Where do Architects get their Ego


Show Notes:


This episode is going to be so awesome. I guarantee this will be the best podcast you listen to all week. Today we’re going to talk about where Architects get their ego? Not that I have an ego, but you better stay tuned or you are going to miss something amazing!

I wanted to go into this subject. The Ego. Where does all this ego in Architecture come from? What can you do about it?

Have you ever heard the saying, “Architects ego’s are as large as their buildings?”

Where does this come from? The architect’s been given this stereotype or earned the stereotype as being the pre-madonna. Prancing around the construction site, throwing their ego and attitude around at everyone.

Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. They’re generally or usually true. I wish it wasn’t the case, but they usually are. There will be exceptions that counter balance the idea, I like to think of myself as an exception to this ego stereotype. I don’t like to think that I have an ego, but to tell you the truth I probably do at times.

Not the crazy over the top ego, but I might just have a little hidden ego deep inside.

I don’t want any of this to come across as if I am defending the architects ego. Actually it’s just the opposite. I would prefer none of us have ego’s. Or at least none of us outwardly project our egos on others.

Our goal to you the client should be to provide value. We should be focused on adding value to your project and creating solutions to help you meet your goals. When we focus on goals and creating a successful project, that should in turn give us as architects a feeling of success.

But when it comes to success, I think a lot of an architects mindset is that their notoriety or reputation determines their success, not their ability to solve problems for their clients. In my opinion a person can be successful without being well known. Would you agree with that?

In a lot of instances Architecture is a thankless job. Unless you are a Starchitect, a lot of architects go unnoticed. Starchitects are those famous architects working on the high profile projects like Frank Gehry. After going to school for many years, interning for many more then finally getting a license to practice, we want the recognition. A lot of us want to be noticed or sought out. We want to be in high demand.

That’s not always the case. Many architects work in the shadows. Behind the scenes. I think it’s wrong but in order to get noticed, I think the ego might start to come out. Kind of that fake it till you make it attitude. Make your own way right?

In reality only the select few get noticed. A lot of architects especially those working in larger offices, are behind the scenes. They spend long hours at their desk drawing and no one notices.

Architecture is, if you can believe it, very personal. Even when your getting into the details. You’re designing. Creating art in some way or another and it becomes very personal. You’re pouring your ideas out onto the paper or into the computer more likely. Creating. Creating that solution to meet your (the owners) goals. A lot of architects forget that we are solving your goals. Developing solutions to your problems.

When our ideas begin to get critiqued or questioned it’s difficult for some to deal with it. Their first reaction is to defend it. Client after client, critique after critique, It becomes a constant battle to defend our work.

Detail after detail. Decision after decision. Each one comes into question by contractors, clients, spectators and the architect themselves.

I think this is where the Architects ego is really born. It’s born out of the idea that its better to stand strong and forceful in the beginning to fend off any potential criticism of the work you create.

When it comes to recognition. Everyone wants some attention for what they do. They work hard to create great amazing spaces. People want to be recognized.

But with recognition comes a level of criticism. An Architect has to be somewhat vulnerable to put their work out there to begin with. To create something and actually something that’s going to be on public display for many years if not decades.

Just look at this podcast for instance. I am coming on each and every week. Trying to provide great content that you can hopefully find educational as well as entertaining. Or vise versa.

I’m throwing it out there. Putting it up on the internet. Asking for people to leave me reviews. Reaching for feedback.

But what happens when their work never gets noticed. What happens when there is no recognition. This is where the jealously sets in. Everyday people are surrounded by Architecture. Everywhere we go. The built world is all around us.

Architects constantly think about architecture. Each building I see or enter, I look at the details. The construction. I think about how the architect arrived at the decision, at the design. Walking or driving around and seeing all the great architecture gets the architect feeling bad if their not getting recognized for the work their doing.

Especially when it comes to awards right. Architects get very jealous about awards. Its the highest honor right? wrong.

You might be thinking. “Gosh all this ego talk. I mean seriously get over yourself. I could just run down to Home Depot and pick up a design book. I could get going on planning and designing my home.”

The perception that what an architect does on a residential scale is anyone can do it. If anyone can do it what is the value.

Why on earth would I hire an architect when I can just do it myself. I’m totally capable with Home Depot’s help. That maybe true. Most people feel that they have the design in their head. They have it all figured out and they just need someone to draw it. “I just need you to draw it for me. Real quick. It’s simple.”

The truth is, it’s always simple. Everything is always simple. I love the saying simple is triple. Simple is triple. I got that from Sean McCabe. It’s funny because all the “simple” projects I’ve done have ended up being the most complicated and the most time consuming of all.

So you as the owner have an idea of what you want. A visual image of what design solution you want for you home. Your idea might be completely different than what your neighbors idea for your space would be. You might think, well if my neighbors idea is one thing and my idea is another that just means that Design is subjective. It’s in the eye of the beholder, right. It’s all just opinion.

Ok so here comes the ego…

Good design solves a problem. It arrives at a solution that answers the questions that you have been asking. It’s neither random nor based on opinion.

Good design is backed by deep thought and insight. Each project is approached as a new solution to an issue. What is it that is bothering you about your space or your life? What is it that is keeping you up at night?

These are the issues I’m trying to address. Can they all be solved with design, probably not. But many of them can be addressed and by addressing them we can add value to your life.

So when you get down to it. There is a right answer. There is one design that is right for you. And that is the key. Right for you. You see, the design that your neighbor would do, might be right for them. The design that I develop for you, that is the design that is right for you. It’s custom. Tailored to fit you and your family.

And how do we know that the design presented is the right one for you? We work with you to explore and discover it through talking to you and diving deep into the issues you are having with your space. How you use your space. How you want to be able to use it.

It is very difficult to work on a project when design is seen as simple opinion or solutions are subject to an owners random whim. Especially when that whim is changing week to week. Our lives are fairly constant. We live each day pretty much the same as the last. We have a routine. Very seldom do we have life changing moments that alter that routine. Maybe we win the lottery. Ok life changing. We have a baby. Again life changing. If one of these two events happen during a design project you can guarantee some changes to the project. But otherwise your goals should not be changing on a daily basis.

When was the last time you were creative? We all do creative things. Everyday. Even people that don’t think they are creative are deep down creative in some way. Creative people love to create, they take their works very seriously. They pour their heart and soul into the work. Everything you got. Right. Then you put it out there. Show it to someone.

They start to pick it apart. They point out little details that they think should have been done differently. It’s hard for some of us. It really does get difficult. Some can accept criticism better than others. To tell you the truth it’s sometimes difficult for me to accept the critique. I guess it depends on how its worded. What angle the comments come from.

Although I do feel I can push past the first initial reaction I have and understand where the person is coming from. A lot of architects have a hard time overcoming the comments they get on their work. They feel that they must push their design. Convince you that what they have designed is what you need. And to a certain level I agree that we are the experts. We have the experience and the knowledge to take the design to where it needs to be. On another level you do need to have your input. If you are being convinced of a design that does not meet your goals then your architect did not fully understand your goals to begin with.

A good architect will explore your needs before hand, so when they show up with that design they are on the exact path you believed they were on. If they are not on the path then you might see the ego start to come out. Not from me of course…

Not only do we have to convince you that what we have designed is the best way, we also have to confirm it with the contractor. Possibly a contractor that has his own opinions on the matter. For 10 years he/she has been building something one way.

Maybe there is a better method that your architect knows about that would yield a better product. There will be a million and one reasons why your architect went down the path they did but inevitably the contractor wants to go down another path.

If they do, they will always through out money as the reason.

“It will cost a lot more if we do it that way, but I can save you money if I do it my way.” says the contractor. Because money is involve it always wins. Or at least has the advantage. We can defend our method day in and day out. Your architect begins to tell themselves to fight for their opinion. Show the client that you were right. Stand up for yourself. And bam! Out comes the ego or what appears to be ego.

You might be saying, “Gosh, why will he not just go with the flow? Why is he pushing this so much?” The reason most likely is a contractor last week told him the exact opposite on another project. Again we put all our effort in this work. We want it to be precise, correct and the best it can possibly be. We want it to be a smooth process and dare I say fun. I actually do want to have fun with my projects.

So what do you as the owner do about it? How do you approach your architect when you feel like the ego might be getting out of hand?

My best answer to that is give them the opportunity to describe to you how and why they came to that conclusion. What decisions they made to reach that design.

If they don’t have a strong foundation behind the reason for making such a decision or choice then they will realize it during this discussion. If they do have a good explanation and reason, then everyone might come on board.

The final thing that I believe adds to the ego is that what architects design eventually gets built. It affects your life on a daily basis. For better or worse. Hopefully for the better.

“Each and everyday someone is interacting with something I created. How awesome is that. Watch-out here comes the ego…”

I hope that you are having great success with the planning and construction of your home. If you want to get in touch with me please reach out to me on twitter or google plus.

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