How to Be a Better Architect: A Residential Architect’s Perspective

Years’ worth of study, design development, software skills, and sleepless nights might have made you the architect you are today. But, there is so much more to achieve and as Robert Frost rightly said “miles to go before I sleep”.

I have been a residential architect for over thirty-five years. My work gives me peace and thrill simultaneously. It keeps me on my toes to be better for myself and to do better for my clients. Over the years, I have learned new skills, advanced in my design techniques, and bettered each project I undertake.

Residential architects spend their days experimenting with ways to develop a fresh design, accommodate the client’s requirements, and incorporate sustainability all the while dealing with issues of space, planning permissions, and timelines. But, all this plays into upgrading and progressing.

How to be a better architect is just the outer question. The core is why to be a better architect. Why should you work harder than you already are? Why look at that video showing how to achieve that command in the software? Why stay updated on the news from the architecture world?

All this is for you and your work. And that must be motivation enough to be ready to better yourself. Today’s article is for the architects out there who are trying to make a mark.

Understand Your Targets and Work Towards Them

The question to ask yourself at this point is what are you even doing it for? Are you doing it for the fame? Or are you doing it for the money? (Mind you, the money days take a while to come!). There must be something bigger than these aspects right? Yes, money is essential. However, it comes and goes. But your skill will stay. Try to develop it in your mind that you are not doing it for the material, but for the intangible. You are doing it to upskill yourself and be one with your design. The design should be you and you should be the design; immersive and intertwined.

Read Until You Cannot and Then Read a Bit More

Reading is a skill that architects must possess. You could start by composing a list of literature that might interest you. It could be about the history of architecture to the theory of how designs play out. I resonate with the architectural feats of Petra Valley in Jordan, and how architects are now promoting energy efficiency through their designs. Fascinating!

Keep Yourself Updated

The architecture world is consuming and does not stop. It is constantly growing and with that so must you. Gone are the days of reading one news article a month. It is the time to be updated about what is happening outside and then be on par with it. Knowing what is going on in the world is essential to being an architect. Try to be updated about new projects, emerging practices, and changing concepts. Being updated on these could impact your work in one way or another.

Network and Communicate with Fellow Architects

It is essential to meet with colleagues and engage with other professionals from the community. Try to understand how they are doing things and learn from them. It is beneficial to exchange ideas and create a reliable network.

Socialize with the Community

Meet with your friends and participate in the community. Attend social gatherings and learn more about the social circle. It should reflect in the designs that you make for them. Participating in these events and paying attention to the minute details of your client’s needs will help make you a better architect.

Embrace Failure

At some point, every architect has experienced failure. And this is highly essential. It might be disappointing at first, but it makes you a learned and prepared individual. Failures let you experience the hard side of the profession so you can recognize and appreciate the success when it comes your way. The lesson here is never to make the same mistake twice and embrace failure as part of your journey.

Presentation Skills

As an architect, you have to present and pitch in front of people. This trick here is practice. It also requires constructive feedback and then acting on it. Try your pitches in front of colleagues and ask for their evaluation. Another handy trick is engaging the audience (clients) rather than presenting. When it comes to residential architects, the task here is to get along with your clients, perceive their requirements, and help them understand how you can achieve them for them. Compatibility plays an essential role in developing long-term relationships with your clients.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

As an architect, try taking risks or adopting a new approach. These habits bring along opportunities for being unique. You also get the ability to express yourself through your designs. The capability to keep trying new things, using new techniques, and creating new trends could elevate your skills and separate you from the rest.

Prepare Yourself for Difficult Times

Patience is a virtue. Always display desire and zest even when tasked with simple or boring jobs. You might start your career with an established architect. Make them see why they hired you each day you are there. You could be involved in designing, project management, contracts, or dealing with vendors. And you might not like everything on this list. But, show positivity and enthusiasm that is difficult to ignore.

Be Open to Challenges

With new architects entering the market every day, what separates you from the crowd? Fresh architects have fresh ideas and over the years, you might become “basic”. But, do not be afraid to challenge yourself. You have the talent, experience, and skills to be better each day. Dare to participate in international competitions, submit your portfolio, display courage, and show that you are in it to win it.

My Final Thoughts

Being an architect is a hard job. Unlike the regular nine-to-five, your actual job starts when the creative juices start flowing. You might think that designing a chimney is no big deal, but when it comes to the technicalities, a chimney could end up changing your entire design. So, why do we stop here? Being an architect might be hard, but is worth the sleepless nights, the scary software troubles, and the gallons of coffee. And for people looking for residential architects, now you know how to locate the best one for your needs!