a paved but winding career path

Apart from that stint in fifth and sixth grade where working for Marvel Comics was the dream, I have always wanted to be an architect. The path was charted early on. That’s OK. After these many years of writing this blog, it has been said countless times that there was no other choice; and quite frankly, I’ve never been disappointed in that decision. I can’t believe I get to do this. Yes, there have been days when it may have been fun to be or do something else – for a day or a week, yet giving this up for a new career path in a different field has never been an option. I make art.

pencils 01.jpgUnless you are interested in rehashing my old stories by clicking the links above, I’ll spare you the many reasons why I believe I am an architect, thus my impulsive process of making the decision to study architecture. If you are looking for rich wisdom of weighing the options, listing pros and cons and aiming for a high paying job, forget it – you won’t find it here.

I just did it.

20171202_065017.jpgAs one of the oldest bloggers in the #Architalks crew, I wonder if those younger than 40, dare I say younger than 30 will latch on to my story or my simplistic method of choosing without a bit of skepticism. Perhaps their discernment is higher and more thoughtful than mine – even their expectations could be more authentic. To me, I just wanted to be an architect, so I pursued it regardless of the hurdles, challenges, disappointments and supposed better opportunities elsewhere. Yes, that’s how much I wanted this.

Being an invited jury critic lead to a dozen years of teaching from 2002-2014 which was critical in shaping the development of my practice, even scripting the process by which I operate my office today. Balancing practice and teaching was oddly amusing, terribly rewarding, but exhausting. Starting in 2015, I had to decide to put it back on the shelf for a later time. Additional thoughts appear in a 2012 blog post.

CMU 1st Yr reviews 01.jpg

It’s not romantic, but I started working at a local office during my college years and returned for almost four years upon graduation. It was a solid foundation, but it couldn’t last. With the encouragement of my wife, I left in 1995 for a firm in downtown Pittsburgh where I enjoyed my 17th floor office until I started my firm in 2003. Exhilarating, exciting, educational and ephemeral describes those eight years which prepared me for a new chapter that I had never planned on – ever. This was another fork in my career path that could not have been anticipated.


For over fifteen years, I’ve operated my own firm as a solo practitioner. Eight years of blogging largely cover my thoughts on this journey as I’ve endeavored to share not only my thoughts, but what I’ve discovered are the thoughts of many other architects. You’ve noticed the plethora of links in this post – right? We are fascinating people, but generally misunderstood. Sharing that has been a cathartic yet joyful glimpse into our world. Hopefully, there are a few people that are a bit closer in apprehending our quirky passion for this profession.

10 good things about working solo
10 challenges about working solo
another 10 good things about working solo

Call me odd for appreciating the singularity of focus for those that set their mind on something they love and take it for what it is – package deal. There’s no greener grass, and at the end of this path, I just hope to be good.

For those just entering this magnificent journey, here are my thoughts.

Please take time to appreciate the enthralling career paths of my friends. #Architalks.

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Well, How Did I Get Here (Again)

Steve Mouzon – The Original Green Blog (@stevemouzon)
A Strange Career Path

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Career – The News Knows

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
#architalks 41 “Career Path”

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
A Winding Path

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Career Path

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Career Path of an Architect (And Beyond)

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Career Path(s)

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Career Path


a paved but winding career path

4 thoughts on “a paved but winding career path

    1. No, it wasn’t with UDA. It was a firm named IAS (Integrated Architectural Services), they no longer exist. It was fun working in an urban environment, but I did commute 1 hour+ each day which made no sense.

      1. Exactly! For several years after moving to Miami Beach, my commute was a bit under a half-mile, almost always on foot (or a bike if I was in a hurry). Now, it’s 50 feet across a courtyard. Love that!

Please leave a reply, and consider sharing this with a friend.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.