Why Architecture?

I’ve often wondered how people end up doing what they do. Especially when it’s something quite specialized. Probably quite often people’s day jobs are determined by the course of their life. Either as a reaction to a particular event or an evolution due to smaller events. My career path has largely taken direction from the latter.

When I was in pre-school I wanted to be a train engineer. This was likely due to our trips out to the railway museum out in Union, IL. I thought the old steam locomotives were really cool with all their levers and that smell of coal. It was also possibly due to our trips to downtown taking the elevated train. Seeing the city pass by from 20 feet in the air is something I enjoy to this day. But then during elementary school, that fascination with trains faded.

As I neared high school, I was questioned more and more about what I wanted to do. In part since the high schools in the area generally concentrated on either techical abilities or college prepatory classes. Though most of the tech schools offered college prep also. As with probably most everyone, I was really at a loss for what I might want to go into. I was very good at all my subjects except for English class or those which required quite a bit of written work. As I thought about many professions, I kept thinking “Is this really interesting enough that I would want to only do this for the rest of my life?” Since I didn’t have a passion for anything, everything I could think of got eliminated. Though math and science were two fields that did hold my interest more than others. The difficulty was thinking of whether any profession that involved one or the other would hold my interest once you get deeply into it. In the end, when it came to choosing a high school, I chose a technical school with a college prep program so that my options would be open.

But there was another reason. When I was growing up one of the things I enjoyed was helping my father work on the house. Mainly building or fixing things out of wood. We watched many public television home building and repair shows (along with cooking and science programs) when I was growing up. We religiously watched This Old House every Sunday. So I was interested in taking a carpentry class in high school.

Though the carpentry class required that you take a drafting class before you could enter the shop. So I happily took the drafting class and my perfectionist side helped me ace the class. And of course when you do something well and you enjoy it, you want to keep doing it. This is the basic premise on how my career path has evolved. So the next semester instead of taking that carpentry class, I thought I would try out architectural drafting.

The class was quite simple compared to the drafting class which consisted of copying set drawings or rendering 3d objects in 2d. The only assignment was for you to draw your dream home. I think there were some parameters which I followed religiously, but otherwise we spent much of the class listening to the instructor tell stories and jokes, most of them dirty. At the end of the class I had created a well laid out, but rather horrible looking boxy home. The instructor gave me a good grade because he saw how much I was into it. I had caught the bug.


Within a year or two, it was certain that I would be going into architecture for college. I had found something which I passionately enjoyed. Something that I could see myself doing on a daily basis. It combined problem solving, creativity, and how we shape the world around us. I started studying the evolution of architecture in Chicago along with the history of the city. I became fascinated with skyscrapers and started following the progress of those under construction downtown. It was excellent how the field combines so many things that interest me. As it still does today.

I completed my studies after getting two degrees and spending some time abroad. Then I actually started working as an architect. I was having a great time until an opportunity arose which brought me into my current profession. I’ll publish that post soon.


~ by Frank on February 9, 2009.

One Response to “Why Architecture?”

  1. […] Structural Engineering? In a previous post I talked about how it came to be that I started on a career in architecture. But now I work as a […]

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