Please Note: the part of the architect will be played by me, Keith. For protection, the partygoer’s real names will not be used.
I would say at least 99.99% of my readers have delivered, received, or overheard the following conversation at a party:
Partygoer1: “Hey Partygoer2, you should talk with Keith, he’s an architect… you guys have a lot in common.”
Partygoer2: “That would be great. I did take some art classes in college, although I wasn’t very good at math.”
Partygoer1: “Keith… Keith… psst KEITH!”
Keith: (with a blank stare looks up from the nacho platter) “Oh, hey… Partygoer1, how are you doing?”
Partygoer1: “You know, I can’t complain… well I could but nobody would listen” (roars with laughter and makes pistol gestures with both hands)
Keith: (attempts to laugh but can only muster a look of insanity)
Partygoer1: “Keith, I’d like you to meet Partygoer2. You guys have a lot in common.”
Partygoer2: (extends arm for handshake)
Keith: (confused, air-gestures a hand shake while retaining a beer and nachos in hands…looks even more crazed) “Hi Partygoer2. Partygoer1 says we have a lot in common. Are you in architect or related to the profession in another capacity? (Thinks to himself, or better yet, “Do you have oodles of disposable income and would like to hire me?”)
Partygoer2: “Well sort of… I took a few art classes in college. I always thought it would be the most awesome thing ever to be an architect and draw all day!”
Keith: (disparity overcomes his demeanor) “Well, actually…”
Partygoer2: (cuts Keith off mid-sentence) “Seriously, how cool is it to draw all day!
The rest of the conversation is a blur to me. I’m sure I said some really compelling things. However, all I recall hearing was “Draw blah blah blah… draw… art… blah blah blah… failed math… blah blah blah.” I can hear you saying, “Keith, this is just another opportunity to explain what it is an architect does.” You’re right, and I did the best I could. Further, I did turn it into something productive- I came up with a list of what I do on a typical day. The next time a conversation like this arises, and it will, I will have laminated (nachos can be messy) copies of the list to distribute. What a typical day for me as an architect entails, a list of ‘stuff’ I do:
1. Read through 37 or so emails…hmmm BIM/CAD software for $19.99… what could be the issue?
2. Wrote 2 contracts… revised 2 contracts.
3. Selected colors, Bright White for the wall and Brilliant White for the ceiling.
4. Prepared a PCCE.
5. Spoke with a contractor about the bid forms he received.
6. Phoned the printer to find out why the drawings that were supposed to be here yesterday aren’t here today.
7. Spoke with plan reviewer, he won’t approve a pedestal building design because he doesn’t think it meets code.
8. Read section 508.2 of the International Building Code- as it pertains to a pedestal building.
9. Re-read section 508.2.
10. A publisher phoned and inquired if I would pay to be in their book…um, no!
11. Re-read section 508.2, I’m positive. I’m correct.
12. Phoned the International Code Council (ICC) to discuss section 508.2 of the IBC and persuade them to make the correct interpretation.
13. Established architectural fees for a renovation project.
14. Re-explained to GC his responsibility for reframing any/all soffits if he doesn’t submit a mechanical system layout drawing for review prior to install.
15. Laid out the framing plans for a new house (sort of counts as drawing, + ½ point for drawing).
16. Sketched bathroom option (+1 point for drawing).
17. Ordered office supplies.
18. Reviewed contractors request for pre-fab fireplace substitution.
19. Prepared/sent invoices.
20. Spoke with the ICC rep, he stated he agrees with me and will issue an interpretation.
21. Sketched/forwarded a detail clarification per contractor’s request (+1 point for drawing).
22. Review/red-line set of CD drawings (sort of counts as drawing, + ½ point for drawing).
23. Researched Cumaru wood decking.
24. Unjammed printer. Jammed. Unjammed.
25. Worked on SD floor plan sketches (+1 point for drawing).
26. Prepared an RFP for structural services.
27. Phoned a client to explain to them, delicately, why their idea won’t ‘work.’
28. Confirmed zoning and setbacks for a property.
29. Responded to plan reviewer comments.
30. Met with utility company rep to discuss possible water service line upgrade.
Tallying the points, we have drawing at 4 points and all other stuff an architect does on a typical day at 26 points, or 87% non-drawing. Even if you’re not good at math, the winner is clear.
As an architect I draw, but I don’t draw all day every day. There is an abundant amount of ‘other stuff’ that we as architects do that has nothing to do with drawing- it’s what separates us from being a ‘designer’ or drafter. It’s worth noting, that much like an Oreo, the ‘other stuff’ can also be ‘double stuffed.’ As an architect, I strive to make my clients experience enjoyable and buffer them from the vast amount of decisions a project requires- such that they can focus on what is drawn– that’s what an architect does all day every day.
* Later that night I did draw a bath, but there is no way I’m counting that as drawing! Originally posted September 13 2012, edited/revised per date above.