What I Miss Most About Working with Architects


It’s been more than eight months since I left my 9-year communications gig at HOK.

My time away from the AEC grind has allowed me to reflect on the many positive aspects of working in the design professions.

Beyond the creativity and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants reality, I also miss those pesky architects. Challenging and incorrigible as they can sometimes be, those hybrid right-brain/left-brain creatures also bring some pretty dynamic traits to the table.

Here are a few of the qualities I miss most about working alongside architects*:

The Passion. For most architects, their passion propels them to thrive in an often-thankless field that is largely under-appreciated, undervalued – and underpaid.

The Perseverance. They willingly sacrifice time, food, money, etc. for the sake of the project/client. And we all know how most of them refuse to retire at a reasonable age, choosing instead to design until they take their final breath.

The Pride. I loved witnessing the proud papas (occasionally mamas) beam at the public unveiling of their projects. I imagine there are fewer more satisfying experiences for an architect than ushering a project from idea to built form that will serve people for decades to come.

The Idealism. Most architects possess an inherent desire to “do the right thing” (in the areas of design, sustainability, resources, etc.), even if it’s not practical or feasible. Ultimately, it’s because they believe in the power of architecture to change the world.

The Glasses. A signature accessory for many, quirky glasses symbolize a designer’s creativity, individuality and not-so-veiled desire to be noticed and taken seriously.

The Black. It’s an unwritten (but almost universal) maxim that serious architects don’t wear bright colors. Or, usually, any colors. 

The Aloofness. OK, this one can definitely be annoying to someone whose role it is to communicate with and engage people. But I grew to welcome the challenge of breaking through their independent-mindedness. 

The Writing. Sometimes frustrating, often confusing, the convoluted “design speak” of architects always served as a rich source of comic relief. I was frequently amused and dumbfounded by the number of big-ticket words could be strung together to say relatively little.

The Egos. A controversial characteristic, I realize, but this elephant-in-the-room quality of many architects can be quite endearing (because it is a direct outgrowth of each quality listed above).

Although not currently employed by the architectural profession, I retain special memories of my time there and am grateful for the special friendships I maintain with folks at HOK and throughout the AEC industry. Hope you enjoyed my commentary.


* My broad definition of “architects” encompasses interior designers, planners, landscape architects, exhibit designers and other design professionals.