I’m a firm believer in self-critique and examining your own immediate past in order to better understand where you are, how you got there, where you want to go and how to get there. This is an essential task in life and not taking time to give yourself a review is a great way to ensure you’ll never get where you want to go and most likely just float along aimlessly until something happens to you rather than making things happen. And if you read this blog you know that just 12 months ago I made a huge personal and professional change (i.e. risk) by moving myself and my family from sunny Florida out to woodsy Arkansas. I left a firm I had been with for more than 4 years, a city I had practiced in for 9 years and countless friends I have known even longer. Making a change like this is never easy, either personally or professionally. In both cases I and my wife have had to start our lives over completely. New state, new city, new home, new jobs, new colleagues, new friends. It was…..stressful. But the opportunity to be closer to family and new adventures professionally were too great to ignore. So, we packed up and hauled butt. And now, one year later, this is my Review.
Before we get to the meat of things, I think it’s important I lay out some of the goals I’ve had for myself and some of my professional biography. In 2003 I graduated with my Masters in Architecture and in early 2004 I began my first internship with one of the oldest and most respected firms in Jacksonville, Florida. During my time there I learned a lot about the practice and production of architecture. Between then and now I’ve worked at several other firms in Florida and Virginia, and now Arkansas. I’ve designed projects in multiple other states and countries including Panama, Costa Rica, Australia, New Zealand and Israel.
So, after nearly 10 years in practice, where did I think I’d be by now? Well, I certainly thought I would be licensed before now. That was probably the single greatest goal that I set for myself. Everything else was pretty fluid. I was never one of those architects that had a particular style of architecture or even market sector as a major focus. I just love what I do and relish in the opportunity to work on any project and do the best I can for my clients.
But, I suppose if I was totally honest I would have to admit that I always considered myself a Modern and/or Contemporary designer. I’ve always had a preference for a simple and honest expression of structure and form without a lot of ornament (as little as possible, if any, in fact). But I also always had an appreciation and a love of old buildings. Living and studying in Savannah, Georgia was certainly good for that. But it wasn’t until this past year that I really began to appreciate, study and truly investigate architecture on a deeper level. This was due 100% to the new position I found myself in Arkansas. My firm does a good bit of Historic Preservation, Rehabilitation and Restoration work all over the state. And once I got more involved in these projects I began to more clearly appreciate how historical styles and movements and traditional building methods got us to where we are today with architects like Frank Gehry and Peter Eisenman and Santiago Calatrava and so many others. And through this deeper investigation I began to see the beauty and the purpose behind a lot of the ornament that I had always spurned as ugly and unnecessary.
Fast forward to today and quite frankly I can’t stand a lot of modern architecture out there because there is an almost complete lack of scale, proportion, sensitivity of material or eve at times GOOD TASTE. So much of the modern work I see is a white box or a black box or a grey box or a wood box. Windows are out of place, out of scale, and simply creating a huge open multi-functional space for people to live in is not good design…I could go on and on and on. And to cut a long story not so short, the last year has been wonderful for my professional growth as an architect, and I am also happy to report that as of this post I have taken my 5th of 7 exams (fingers crossed on a big win for that one). This will also be my third exam since moving here last year. Before that I hadn’t taken an exam since 2009. To say I lacked motivation and encouragement is the understatement of the century. There is thankfully no lack of either since I moved here and, God willing, I will be a fully licensed architect before the new year.
And with that big hurdle accomplished it will be time to set new, higher goals for myself in the next year. I look forward to new challenges, new adventures, new projects and new clients. And, on top of all of that, over the next month or two I will be transitioning this blog to a new blog and social media platform. I’ll be handling all blogging and social media for Ruby Architects, Inc. Nothing will really change other than the name, but it’s another step forward for me in my career and I’m really excited about it!