Life Of An Architect – One Day In An Architect’s Workweek
One question lingering on the minds of many architectural students, youngsters elbow deep in Lego blocks dreaming of joining a profession, or even everyday architecture admirers is what an architect’s day looks like. As our cities become more architecturally sophisticated, many of us wonder how architecture comes to be, who the people behind impressive designs are, and most importantly, what they do on any given day.
The simple and likely the most accurate answer is that architects do ‘a lot’ over one day. Of course, the exact daily routine depends on the position a person holds and the nature of the studio. Journeys into architecture are very different for each designer regardless of rank and post they hold in the studio. No matter how varied, architects’ days have a few things in common.
Dickson So, KIRKOR’s Design Principal, took a moment to muse on this query.
How did you come into architecture?
People get into architecture for many different reasons. For some, architecture was a childhood dream; for others, practical decisions based on their strengths and interests. Similarly, everyone lands into their roles in a variety of ways. However, I came into my role via most familiar circumstances – personnel shifts and hard work. I have been with KIRKOR since 2005. I cut my teeth with KIRKOR, starting out as an Architectural Technologist, learning everything I could as I worked through the ranks.
What is your day-to-day like?
The romanticism of architecture can plague the idea of what architects do day today. The practise of architecture is so much more than tracing papers and fancy Pantone markers reworking designs. Architecture is a business as much as design and, therefore, follows a daily path akin to a wide range of professionals. Part of the practice is as much about solving mundane issues as it is about coming up with a stunning design solution. The best design is when visible and invisible aspects of architecture are given equal attention and detail. The devil is in the detail, after all.
For me, no day is alike. What I do, my daily schedule is subject to priorities. That is priorities of that day. The following is an example of what that one day might be. But trust me, these lineups change rapidly on any given day or moment.
So, some day:
If there’s a deadline or meeting, the priority would be to review any outstanding items and make sure sufficient staff and resources accompany those.
Even if there are no immediate deadlines, the next priority is to make sure all my staff have the necessary information they need to have a productive day, which means my reviewing any of their concerns before I get bogged down with meetings, clients or consultants requests.
The next priority would be to review upcoming projects and staffing needs. Oh, but this is not as simple as moving staff around to “plug holes.” It is a delicate balancing act among understanding the complexities of the project, deadlines and deliverables, the particulars of a client, the schedule and workload of various staff, and trying to match up all these variables while at the same time making sure staff have the room to grow and learn different aspects of projects.
People management is a crucial aspect of the business of architecture. Understanding the strengths of each designer and how they respond to the client is an enormous part of management. Therefore, I mediate among clients and staff, evaluating and deciding who the best people for the job are based on their design skill and people skill equally.
In between and during meetings, I will do actual project work on projects where we don’t have enough staff or resources.
I enjoy cultivating design in the office while, at the same time, I insist on meeting the demands of the external affects. Every site has distinct problems that an architect is trying to resolve. Seeing a site as tabula raze is not a solution. Context plays an enormous role; its social, historical, economic, physical, or other aspects weigh in on design as much as designers’ thoughts, desires, and knowledge.
Throughout the day, if I have any “free time,” I will try to connect with various project managers to stay on top of any concerns or upcoming needs.
Throughout the week, I will also connect with staff from various departments. Some days, Greg might bug me about reviewing invoices and timesheets, or Kim and Danijela ask me to review RFPs or write a blog like this one! Other times, I connect too with Doris or Ilana to review the project budget and write up ASCs or speak to Keesa and Jon about staffing or company knowledge. Once in a while, I catch up with Jeremy about BIM concerns as they relate to the Design Department.
At the end of the day, after all that, I review any outstanding questions from clients, consultants and staff that I didn’t get to or may have missed during the day and either respond to them before I leave the office or schedule to have them resolved the next day.
So, after all that, do we even ask: What are your working platforms — your work ethic?
Hard work gets you places. So do your best in every point or aspect of the job. That should be enough.