When I grow up…

I always wanted to be an architect. From the time I was about 10 years old, I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know it had a name. I wanted to design houses. At that age, I never knew that a professional who designed buildings was called an architect, all I understood was that I really liked to draw and I couldn’t stay away from doodling house plans. I would go with my parents to view model homes after church on Sundays, and we would end up with a folder full of house plans from each builder we visited. I would take those plans home and sketch over them, redesigning portions or completely starting over if I thought the design was bad. I’d show my parents my ‘improvements’ I had made to the spec homes, and they’d ask, “But what will the roof line look like? No one will be able to afford it!”. It was their way of telling me that complicated roof lines are expensive. But I was 10, so my retort was, “I’ll just have to find rich clients then!”. In my world, I was going to design what I wanted, and I would just wait for the right client to come along to pay for it all.

Sketch of Gustave Deloye's "Saint Marc"

Sketch of Gustave Deloye’s “Saint Marc”

Once I hit high school, I wasn’t as sure what I wanted to do in life. I had lots of interests: music, art, writing, psychology and medicine, law… I didn’t know which would be best for a career. Sure, I had always liked drawing house plans, but I had to make money some how. It wasn’t until my senior year that I really took a good look at each profession and researched what it meant to take on a title associated with a particular field of study. “Lawyer” meant I’d have to do a lot of memorization and tons of detailed reading – that was bearable, but I didn’t like the idea of criminal trials where someone could get off the hook due to a technicality. I ditched that idea pretty quick. I loved the idea of getting a degree in psychology and becoming a a counselor, but I wasn’t sure where that would really take me, or if I had the patience to sit and listen to people day in and day out as they sorted through difficult pasts filled with emotion. I loved music, but I wasn’t a symphony quality musician by any means. I rather preferred singing to playing the flute, and I had gone the band route – not choir. I had lots of melodies in my head, but never the right words (until later). After sifting through various professions and realizing my best option was down the artistically inclined route, I looked into architecture. I knew making a living as a fine artist was tough, and although I have a natural classical talent, modernism was in; my hyper realistic drawings wouldn’t be desirable among a fan base that appreciated splotches of paint. And so I went with architecture – a confirmation of what I always knew.

College taught me quickly that architecture had to do with much more than just designing house plans. There were drawings like elevations, sections and details. There were construction methods to consider. There was history and theory and precedent. There was practicality of budget and client – not just what I wanted in my head. Long story short, my education broadened my understanding and taught me to analyze. I was able to understand design and architecture, and I was able to channel my creativity into projects that solved problems. After graduating, I joined the workforce and got caught up in the rush. Life’s never ending to do list piled up on me and while I never stopped reaching towards the goal, I never stopped to realize how far I’d come.

Through my journey I’ve been able to dabble in many of the areas I once considered for a career. I draw and sketch regularly, and create fine art. I research properties and codes and find the technicalities that will best benefit my projects. I interact with clients in a way that allows me to analyze their thoughts, habits and lifestyles and translate them into a design. Music inspires the forms I create and I’ve even penned (lyrics and all) many songs. In a way, I’ve been able to play the part of lawyer, psychologist, musician and artist – just by choosing architecture as a career. Even before I graduated, I had worked at a firm that specialized in designing high end residential projects – complicated roof lines and all.

Sometimes I joke with my parents that they underestimated me – that I did eventually find the clients willing to pay for elaborate and expensive designs. We laugh about it now, but it’s a great reminder: never stop reaching for the goal and never underestimate yourself.

 



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  • Love your post and you where wise to learn early that building and architecture is way more than just elevations and design… so much more.

    • Thanks, Todd. It is funny the ideas we can have about what a particular profession consists of, but once we experience it ourselves, it can be totally different.

  • Don’t. Stop. Belieeeevin! ; )

    • Hold on to that feeeeeelliiiiin! *Guitar solo* 😉

  • Great post Brinn, helps me reflect on why I came this route. Funny – I considered similar ‘other’ careers. 😉

    • Thanks! I think in the end, we all chose a career that allowed us to do many of the things we initially considered, or explored other outlets for our interests. (I always liked writing, so I started a blog!) 🙂

  • This is a very interesting entry in today’s blog off.  And very inspiring, I might add!  I try to not spend too much time looking back, thinking about what might have been and so forth, although a subject like today’s is sure to put a that resolve in the ashcan!  But, if I had it to do again… Architecture, as I’ve said on another blog is something I would have liked to pursue.  And if I had the talent for it—I’ve never tried to play an instrument—I would have loved to have been a classical musician.  There is something so very sublime about making music like that.  But I think it’s cooler than cool that you ended up just where you wanted to be.

    • Thanks, Joe. I don’t like to spend too much time looking back, either, if the purpose is only to ponder the ‘what ifs’ and ‘should have been’ scenarios. However, reflecting on the past can be a good exercise to remind us of our struggles, our victories, and our goals – all of which can help enrich our lives.

  • L

    it was nice to read a post that still holds so much optimism in having chosen a career in Architecture, especially of late. My husband is an Architect by way of an early love of art and construction sites, an initial degree interest Material Science (for a year) then 3-dimensional art/design (Undergrad degree). It also fulfilled his tech-geek side, and his love of theory and philosophy. We laugh (and sometimes cry) over the way Architecture is underestimated culturally and professionally. We also wish it wasn’t such a hard place to be right now. Going to have to pass this post along, share this bit of reaffirmation.  

    thank you.

    • Thanks for commenting. Architecture is definitely a profession that allows delving into a broad range of interests, and it is easy to forget how exciting a field it is when the economy tanks and we get stuck behind a computer day in and day out. I hope the passion your husband has for architecture continues to grow and gets you through another season.

  • Jeremiah

    Never let others underestimate you either. Great post! 🙂

  • so when are we going to hear an original Brinn Miracle recording of an original Brinn Miracle song? Now that would be something!

    • Soon, I hope! (Disclaimer: soon means when I get around to it). I do have some music software and recording equipment, I just need a good computer (and a few musicians) to get it going. I’ll see what I can do…

  • P Anater

    I love that you still continue to pursue your childhood passions. There’s something sweet about painting now for me too and it’s nice to do it without any pressure to sell what I paint. Thanks as always for your thoughtful posts.

  • It sounds like you have a wonderful job.

  • Racellisantos

    im 16yrs old and i want to be an architect too .. your life is very interesting .. 🙂

    • It’s great to hear you are interested in architecture. Thanks for stopping by to comment, and best of luck to you!

  • Keaven M

    My 1st “site plan” was a hotel resort in the only island chain I had ever heard of at the time….Hawaii. I was 9 years old. I didn’t draw another site plan until I was 34. Now I am 42 and own a successful  architectural illustration business. Destined paths are a strange thing only once they become apparent. Best of luck to you! 

    • Interesting story! It’s neat to hear you pursued the path and are enjoying it today. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

  • Student

    I am very glad that I stumbled upon this post. I had been unsure whether or not to pursue a degree in architecture because of job availability etc., but your story made me realise that it is what I want to do. It sounds like it has been a fulfilling career for you.

    • Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. I’m glad I was able to give some inspiration and encouragement. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. Best of luck to you!

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