03 Aug 2015

Why I’m an Architect – It Was a Happy Accident

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Why are any of us architects? Bob Borson, an inquiring architect, twitter presence & blogging God asked the same question of his closest virtual-architect friends and asked them to share their stories in his blogging brain child, the #Architalks forum. I read many entries and solicited myself a belated invitation which Bob graciously accepted so here’s my becoming an architect story.

I’m an architect because I satisfied the education, internship, legal and regulatory requirements to earn the label “architect.”<<shudder>>. Please forgive that banal transgression that may explain why I’m an architect, but doesn’t explain why I’m an ARCHITECT! There’s much more to my personal architect story than a few checked boxes to satisfy requirements. I’m an ARCHITECT via a series of happy accidents.


Accident 1 – The Best Friend Persuasion: My senior year in high school, my best friend amassed enough scholastic credits to take a mechanical drafting class at the local vocational school. That sounded more fun than taking high school electives to fill my afternoon so I asked a guidance counselor if I could take a vocational school class and learned I also amassed sufficient credits to attend the vocational school. Truth be told, the high school was probably glad I spent afternoons off-campus. I heard through reliable underclass sources that my geometry, zoology and productions teachers celebrated my post-lunch departure everyday with a tip of their respective flasks. Accident 1 was my yearning to be somewhere other than high school.


Accident 2 – The 5-Minute Decision: Later that same year in my final high school semester, I sat in my room (a rare occurrence) drawing (a common occurrence during my pre-teen years, but uncommon beyond that). My dad entered and asked, what at first seemed an innocuous question, “You’re graduating next month. What are you going to do?” Important questions fell deaf on my teen ears and I thought he meant for the next 5 minutes, but staring in his eyes, I realized he meant for the rest of my life! [repeat that last phrase in a booming James Earl Jones voice]. So, I thought about that question as long as any 17-year old would — about 5 minutes — and answered, “I guess I’ll go to college.” I didn’t realize that was the right answer until 5 years later when he posed the same question to my sister to which she replied, “I guess I’ll travel for awhile.” and he protested, “Fine, I’m not paying for your school.” Accident 2 was my split-second school decision.


Accident 3 – The Fake Field Trip: Three months into the vocational drafting class my ADHD reached full potential. Drawing gears and machine parts no longer held my attention and I learned non-repro blue and line quality didn’t attract cute chicks so I fabricated a field trip to the high school during career day to surprise my girl friend with a milkshake and a ride home. On the way to her class, I passed the career room where I spied a splendid chipboard, cardboard and polystyrene model of a trendy office building the architecture recruiter brought. The paper masterpiece commandeered my ADHD attention long enough to elicit three questions. I neither remember the questions nor the answers, but I remembered that model and my 5-second decision to study architecture so I could drink my milkshake before it melted. Accident 3 was cardboard model and melting ice cream.


Accident 4 – The Stubborn Teen: Another month passed and it was time for my scheduled mom-son trip to the university to enroll in college. We attended orientation, declared a major and the administrator whisked us to the testing room because architecture students had to take a test to determine in which math class to place each student. I scored 8 out of 100 and the counselor informed me I could not enroll in architecture school because I lacked the aptitude. I don’t remember what happened next, but mom said I stood and demanded, “Then tell me what I need to do because THIS IS what I’m going to do!” I didn’t give this event another thought until August of that year when I started architecture school. Accident 4 is a teen who doesn’t like to be told “no.


Accident 5 – Pro School Admittance: My first year class contained 105 aspiring architects, but Oklahoma State University limits admission to the 3rd year of architecture school to the top 40 students who demonstrate satisfactory GPA and class prerequisites. I made the cut. I suspect pursuing Architectural Engineering and back-to-back 3.75 and 4.00 GPAs taking classes such as Advanced studio, Physics II and Calculus II helped. Third year was my paradigm year when a prestigious professor pulled me and two other students aside to commend us on our formal collision design concepts. He challenged us to take our projects to the next level. None of us knew what that meant, but that incident was my lightening strike moment when I realized Architecture is not something I do…It’s something I AM! Accident 5 was being in the right mindset at the right time when architecture finally picked me.

25 years later I’m licensed in two states and practiced architecture with public and private companies in the United States and Japan on projects from small follies to full city plans. I’ve participated in all architecture practice aspects (marketing, design, business development, documents, contracts, negotiation, construction observation) and own a small architecture firm called WishingRock Studio. Every day is not a picnic but despite the challenges in the profession I call a gift, I know Architecture is not something I do…It’s something I AM, and that’s no accident.

Architalks Credits
Why are others architects? #Architalks … in no particular order:

Architalks Entries
Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)

Why I am an Architect (and not an Astronaut)

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)

Why am I an architect?

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)

why i am an architect

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)

#ArchiTalks: Why I am an architect

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)

“why i am an architect…”

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)

Architalks: Why I am an Architect

Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)

Why did you become an Architect?

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)

I like to make and create.

Brady Ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)

The Agrarian Pantheon

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)

I am what I am…

Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)

Why I am an Architect, when I could have been a Mathematician #ArchiTalks

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice AIA (@egraia)

Why I Am an Architect

About the Author

Your Architect is Eric Faulkner -- an architect licensed in Texas & Oklahoma with 29 years experience in design, construction observation and life.