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What makes an architect?

Monday 23 Apr 2012

What makes an architect?

What makes an architect? by WAN Editorial
All images: Michael Hammond and World Architecture News in Milan 
What makes an architect? by WAN Editorial What makes an architect? by WAN Editorial What makes an architect? by WAN Editorial What makes an architect? by WAN Editorial What makes an architect? by WAN Editorial What makes an architect? by WAN Editorial
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No. of Comments: 12

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30/04/12 Tom Wilber, Albuquerque
Legos, Lincoln Logs, and Tinker toys as a child. Later, paints, cars and anything mechanical. To create was an obsession whether it be a building or a car. However, architecture offered a career.
26/04/12 John Whitaker, Aiea, HI
We had an assignment in our 4th grade art class to design an office building, and paint a perspective of it in tempera. I thought that was pretty cool, and went on from there to become an Architect.
26/04/12 Fernando Rojas, San Juan
Neither of my parents are architects - but my mom has always been crafty & artistic and my father was always great with numbers and problem-solving, that is two essential traits for architects to have.

But really I liked building stuff with my hands and was always attracted to materials and how things come together.
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26/04/12 Barbara, Houston
Legos,, Legos....especially the clear blocks that could become glass block walls.
At 6 years old I also drew floor plans for anyone that showed up at our house and would tell me what kind of house they wanted. Later, I made homes out of wooden shipping crates left in the garage from overseas moves. I always loved art also and paint regularly.
I am still designing houses 58 years later...and any other building design projects that come my way.
My parents were a chemist and a mechanical engineer. It did not hurt that my mother's roommate in college was an architect (female).
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25/04/12 Kaye Sanchez, Abu Dhabi, UAE
I became an architect not by any external influences - my father was a chemical engineer and my mother was into administration. At an early age, i used to draw plans of houses on my school notebooks and envisaged myself living in one of those mansions. Building blocks (LEGOs) were my fave toys and gave way for me to express my desire and passion to build structures.

To date i have no clear recollection of what it is that influenced me but the innate desire to create and express myself paved the way for me to take up architecture in my college days, even with much persuasion from my father not to since it is a realm for men - finally conceding when my stubborness kicked in.
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25/04/12 Rod Burrows, Denver
...fuelled daily by endless inspiration, relentlessly driven by some inner-self to create, viewing the world in some kind of 3D spacial wireframe...

Very accurate. And very well spoken, obviously by a guy relentlessly driven by some inner-self to communicate.
25/04/12 Rod Burrows, Denver
What made me an architect:
1) Building with Kenner beams & girders at age 5
2) Watching my dad do construction projects (He was a non-registered engineer) Age 3 through the present
3) Building, designing and drawing stuff since age 4
4) Looking at my cousins' high school drafting project when I was in Jr. High
5) Watching a movie where the star goes off to college to be an arcitect when I was in elementary school

I got an architecture degree from MIT and ended up as a Licensed Architect and Registered PE (civl and mechanical) in 20 states.
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25/04/12 Stan Rostas, Charlotte
At the age of five I new that I wanted to be someone whom builds things. In the daily walking trek from home to school and back would find things along the way and then would make something out them. At this time also started to draw plans and images of castles influenced by Disney Land and the Wizard of OZ. From that point onward never thought I would be anything else, especially after watching the Brady Bunch and seeing that you can create skyscrapers from the home office ! ;-) No architects in the family though there was a bit of schizophrenia.
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25/04/12 Holly, Chicago
Genetics? Well, my mom's mother was a visual artist, and my dad was an engineer (and a very creative problem-solver).

Influences? When I was very young, our new house was the last one on the street before the land turned to soybean fields. When the street was extended, the new home construction site next door became a favorite place to play. At age 9, I was intrigued by the process of construction, and imagining what the spaces slowly taking shape would be. Or could be. That was the start.
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25/04/12 Charles Roig, Chicago
What made me an architect was, to simplify, two-fold.

First, I had the unquenchable desire to formulate people's lifestyles into positive environments. I would live their lives and design around them; even if I didn't know who they were. I would picture families, office workers and amusement park attendants and the like, even at four years old.

The second element was the desire to create three-dimensional design. Not sculpture, but three-dimensional images that would be inhabited. Believe it or not; this was the venue that gave me greater difficulty. This is where the academia became all-important to me. Kicking and screaming, beautiful design was fused into my being by persistant professors.
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I’ll re-phrase that. What made you an architect? As an architect, you will most probably be fuelled daily by endless inspiration, relentlessly driven by some inner-self to create, viewing the world in some kind of 3D spacial wireframe, but rewind to the beginning, before all this, to your beginning; where did your original inspiration to take up architecture come from?

Having just returned from Milan, the mecca of all things design, a city grown out of the formidable heritage of Leonardo da Vinci, I’m convinced there must be something in the water. The city simply lives and breathes design, from clothing and fashion, through engineering and cars to architecture and interiors, to lights, chairs and everything else imaginable. But why is that?

Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York who studied architecture in Milan recounted in a recent interview: “We were 15,000 students, only in Milan, only in architecture. Sometimes we would have to wait twenty minutes in a line for the staircase to the second floor where we were taught.”

Paola has never practiced architecture. (She would have designed escalators into everything for sure.)

Precedents in genetic dependency are prolific. We have all heard of Genghis Khan’s awesome legacy: the fearsome Mongolian warrior of the 13th century, according to a well published genetic study, may have roughly 16 million descendants living today.

So that’s it, Italy’s 21st century design gene pool stems from Leonardo’s frenetic social life.

Unfortunately not: no wife, no children. He was assumed to be a homosexual. Mmm… back to the drawing board.

A quick search of the WAN database reveals that globally, the ratio of architects per 1,000k head of population varies tremendously; from Japan at pole position with 240 through Italy with 174 and the US at 74 with the UK trailing in at a mere 54. So is this evidence of a creative gene lurking in our bloodstreams? Would the existence of an archi-gene explain the huge disparity between countries?

Szabolcs Kéri, a researcher at Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary, recently carried out a study into brain development and found that a genetic mutation (neuregulin 1 protein) that influences creativity is also linked to psychosis and schizophrenia (sorry guys).

For my part, the only reason that I’m not an architect is that my father was. Having made the grown-up decision to pave my own way in life, I seem to have spent most of my working career paddling against the tide, always being drawn back inexorably into the fold. But is that genetic or just parental influence?

I’m now obsessed with finding out what inspired today’s architects to take up the profession and would be pleased to hear from you, particularly if either of your parents were architects… tell us your story.

To be continued…

Michael Hammond
Editor in Chief at WAN

WAN Editorial

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