this is exciting :: start + finish 


I’ve been thinking (again) about several things that I enjoy about being an architect.

It just so happened that I was invited to participate in the #ArchiTalks series of blogs set up by our friend Bob Borson. Obviously being an architect is exciting enough, yet these few thoughts have been begging to be shared. My contribution will be personal and from my solo point of view – one that hopefully many can relate to readily.


In the past week or two I’ve experienced projects that are just starting and ones that I’ve finished or nearly finished. To me that’s exciting without negating all of the important steps in between. The irony is my office has many projects just starting to unfold simultaneously as I work to bring others to a point of completion or a state where they don’t require daily activity from me (i.e. total completion, out to bid, out for permit, start of construction).


I’ve discovered that I really enjoy the early phases of a project from the initial lead, the initial interview and the steps it takes to secure that commission. Perhaps it’s the limitless potential that I’ve addressed in the past where all of the possibilities in the world exist at a moment in time before the first mark is made. In fact, the anticipation of getting the project is both intoxicating and aggravating simultaneously. I also enjoy the early phases when there is planning involved, research and other preparation required before any real design (as most people define design) takes place. It’s exciting to watch clients watch me know how to lead the project team in a direction to search for answers to the critical questions that shape the assignment. This time is so important, whether it’s a master bedroom addition or a library. Decisions made in these early days outline and define the direction of the project despite the circuitous path projects often take. All of this before I get my favorite #2 pencils out or doodle in my sketchbook.


The second start that excites me is the beginning of a new semester. If you don’t know, I teach design studio part-time at a prestigious school of architecture. I’ve taught first year students for most of my twelve years there. Specifically I’ve taught first year since the fall of 2010. Next week, I’ll get another dozen or so students fresh out of high school with aspirations and expectations about being an architect. I am fortunate enough to be part of their first impression of architecture school (shrieks and gasps follow). We get to share our values and share our passion for this profession in hopes of it being a contagion that leads them to be better than we are. These are the architects that will design in a world we cannot predict. Architecture for them will be different than it is for us. Despite the frustrations, disagreements and challenges in our profession today with emerging professionals and the path to becoming an architect, their world cannot be predicted. All I can do is endeavor to affect the first step. That’s it. Some of you reading this just might become their clients.


Lastly, I find great satisfaction in completion. Several major tasks and projects have been completed recently – some might be considered trite. Last weekend, I mailed a final set of revised construction drawings for a very small project to a client. It was off of my desk finally.  At the same time I mailed a set of construction drawings (for a separate project) to the local plan examiner for review. This was a great feeling because it had lingered on for far too long due to unforeseen situations far out of my control. I sealed the drawings – literally and literally. There was joy with that client hearing it had finally gotten to this stage. The third part of this notion of completion came earlier this week as I joined a client and my photographer to finally shoot a project that was completed last fall. It just didn’t work to get pictures any earlier – something always got in the way. In fact our three schedules collided so often that we had to reschedule five times. However, the reunion was exciting as I got to share another project with my photographer and see a client that has become a friend. I think my client may now hire my photographer for another assignment. Cool.


Guess what, this same client wants to start a new project with me.

photos are from stock photo galleries on – click on photo to see author (used under the Standard Restrictions)

Thanks for reading, thanks Bob for letting us contribute. Please visit these blogs below. #ArchiTalks (they’ll be updated as they are shared with us)

Find me on Twitter @leecalisti

 Bob Borson – Life of an Architect (twitter @bobborson)
“this is exciting – the beginning of the end”

 Marica McKeel – Studio MM (twitter @ArchitectMM)
“Dreams to Reality – THIS is Exciting

 Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture (twitter @enochsears)
This is Exciting – Marketing for Architects That Works

 Jes Stafford  – Modus Operandi Design (twitter @modarchitect)
This is Exciting – It All Comes Together

 Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect (twitter @EntreArchitect)
This is exciting – Making a Difference at Entrepreneur Architect

 Jeff Echols – Architect of the Internet (twitter @Jeff_Echols)
“This is Exciting: 5 “RE’s” to Change the Future of Architecture

 Nicholas Renard – Cote Renard Architecture (Twitter @coterenard)
This Right Here, This is Exciting

 Evan Troxel – The Archispeak Podcast (twitter @etroxel)
This is exciting…Because it’s Real

Jeremiah Russell, RA – (twitter @ronestudioarch)
I’m So Excited

Matthew Stanfield – (twitter @field9ARCH)
This, is Exciting

Cormac Phalen – (twitter @archy_type)
This is Exciting – The End is like the Beginning

Oscia Wilson – (twitter @oscia_wilson)
This is exciting: they’re fighting it out

this is exciting :: start + finish 

12 thoughts on “this is exciting :: start + finish 

  1. Lee,
    You’ve described well “The Circle of Life” that defines our project-based profession. Starts and finishes, beginnings and ends; each project is a story.

    Thanks for sharing!


  2. Agree that the start and finish can be exciting… but there is sometimes a looooong time between the start and the finish and it can be hard to maintain the excitement…. I think it’s one of the challenges of our job. Thanks for the article. Michael, MSG Architecture

  3. I work on other people’s houses… they need to take ownership of the space. I have to emotionally give it back to them so they can decorate it, move in the furniture,live there,… so the finish is theirs. I like to visit a year later and see if the spaces I made are used deliberately and intuitively – very satisfying.

    My exciting time, – after being hired and the second meeting when we find good solutions together – is when I can walk through the frame and see the space, know that my vision presented on paper,
    in 2-D, is live and beautiful. Great joy then.

    Also when I have spec’ed moldings that I know and the client and carpenter don’t, quite. As they get installed and light creates shadow and pattern, I am amazingly happy.

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