Sunday, June 3, 2018



Photo Credit:  Photos-Public-Domain.Com

Experience is, in my opinion, the best education of an architect.  Nothing in school can prepare you for the "real world".  That is why one of the cornerstones of our profession is an internship.  Certain experiences must be collected prior to being able to sit for the exams. That's the way it should be; for all the same reasons you don't want any doctor to treat you that hasn't had at least some experience with patients.

Nobody bothers to count the rings of a sapling that is cut down.  There's no history.  Now, an old grow log is another story.  You can tell a lot about the life of a tree by looking at the rings.  You can see the good years and the bad.  Drought or bountiful rainfall, wild fires or blight; wounds of various variety.

Photo Credit:  U.S. Forestry Serivce

Experience is how we learn from our mistakes.  Mistakes don't prevent us from growing, but they may imprint an indelible mark on our journey.

I ran a variety of projects for 20 years for my firm.  I had a good amount of success.  I also made my share of mistakes.  For most of those mistakes, I figured out how to fix them.  I didn't do it all on my own, I had a wealth of other people's experience working for me, both in the form of co-workers as well as consultants or other partners.  I will say this: I rarely made the same mistake twice. 

Now I help others in the office review their plans.  This is a job I never intended to hold, but it is one that I can do only because of the experiences I had as a project manager.  Why do I look for that extra clear space in toilet stalls if the partitions go all the way to the floor?  I had to fix that once.  Why do I double check remoteness of stair towers?  Had to fix that once.  Why do I look at combustible concealed spaces?  You get the picture.

When I first started out, I always thought that architecture was a profession for the grey haired.  There is no substitute for experience.  I am not suggesting in any way that you attempt to cut open your architect and count his or her rings.  Trust me, those trials and tribulations are there if they have the experience.

This post is part of the ArchiTalks series where a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s theme is "Experience" and was led by Lora Teagarden.  A lot of other talented writers who also are architects are listed below and are worth checking out:

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
experience comes from experiences

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Gaining Experience As A Young Architect

Jeremiah Russell, AIA - ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
knowledge is not experience

Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
That's Experience -- A Wise Investment

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

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
You need it to get it

Jeffrey Pelletier - Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Channeling Experience: Storytelling in the Spaces We Design

Keith Palma - Architect's Trace (@cogitatedesign)
The GC Experience

Mark Stephens - Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)

Leah Alissa Bayer - Stoytelling LAB (@leahalissa)
Four Years In: All Experiences Are Not Created Equal (Nor Should They Be)

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