Myth #1: I can’t afford an architect.
This is number one because it is the most mis-understood. An architect will make your budget his or her best friend and will negotiate to get the best materials and the best workmanship for a good price. More bang for your buck. An architect will not only advocate for your budget but will also design to reduce the life costs of energy consumption and maintenance. They spend time planning to avoid costly changes during construction by anticipating problems and solving them before they are a problem. All for what you might pay in sales tax for the project.
Myth #2: Architects make a lot of money.
Why is it that architects always get lumped with doctors and lawyers? Maybe the extent and intensity of education can be relatively as lengthy and costly for the three, but it certainly can’t have to do with how we are compensated. As of the date of this post an intern architect makes between $40k and $60K annually. When I started in 1997 I took $27K as a starting salary. Looking back I could have probably held out for something north of $30k. Depending on the area of specialty, a doctor can start somewhere between $160k and $250K annually. After 16 years I haven’t even scratched at the low end of a doctor’s starting pay. There are a few architects who make a comparable salary, but there’s only about 5 or 6 of them.
Myth #3: Architects only do drawings.
We also do:
- Energy analysis
- Site selection
- Flooring selection
- Color selection
- Cost analysis
- Restore old buildings
- Update old buildings
- Design and build new buildings
- Find a skilled craftsman
- Construction administration
Myth #4: Architects are for large complex and expensive projects.
Regardless of size and complexity, every project needs a thoughtful design. In fact a small project is likely going to have intricacies not found in larger more expensive projects. Such as tight budgets, lot restrictions, client restrictions or needs. The challenge of a smaller project can have inverse proportional affects that will need the expertise and guidance of an experienced architect.
Myth #5: I have a deadline, I don’t time for an architect.
Deadlines? Architects have a very intimate relationship with deadlines, see myth #8. The term ‘charrette’ is a very common expression used in both classroom and office environments. An architect is trained to coordinate all the facets of a project and most have refined and streamlined a process to complete projects in time; regardless of the time constraints. The film industry has romanticized architects as deep thinkers who will contemplate a door knob for weeks. The truth is we are compelled by the same economics that propel most businesses, time is money. The most efficient way to get a project funneled through design, bidding, permitted and in the ground is through one single source. Architects are trained and experienced to coordinate the channels and expedite any project, whether it’s a small kitchen addition, large home or a high-rise in Times Square.
Myth #6: All architects wear a black turtleneck.
In the movies, yes. Me? I’ve never owned a black turtleneck and have only met one colleague who did. Not sure what he’s wearing these days. Architects can be slightly eccentric but rarely do any care what they are wearing. Usually just the normal business attire.
Myth #7: Frank Lloyd Wright is the most influential architect in the world.
He might be the only one you’ve ever heard of but he is certainly not the most influential. I have seen post holiday office parties where FLW gifts are re-gifted. Yes, every architect has likely received a FLW book, tie, or coffee mug from a relative. Some of the names that might circulate the circles of architects are:
- Frank Gerhy
- Filippo Brunelleschi (even though he was an engineer)
- Alvar Alto
- Robert A.M. Stern
- Rem Koolhaas
- Thomas Jefferson
- Michael Graves
- Walter Gropius
- Thomas Hastings
- Louis Kahn
- Le Corbusier (Probably the most influential architect… ever)
- Renzo Piano
- Michelangelo Buonarotti
Myth #8: Architects get plenty of sleep.
“Time is a hunter that requires no sleep” is usually my response when told I need more sleep. See Myth #5 above. But in our defense it is more about the passion for our work then it is about time management. Ideas beget ideas, and those ideas beget more ideas and they all need to be explored and tested. Get it? Good, I’m going to go take a nap.
photos used w/ creative commons license