It’s difficult to state when or why I decided to become an architect because I cannot recall a time in my life when I even toyed with the idea of any other career path. I don’t believe it was ever a sudden realization, but rather an understanding that was reached.
My home was one where my parents always seemed to be in in the middle of a project, from small to large. From an early age I was taught to work on cars, frame a wall, run electrical wire and lay tile. It was a hands-on house, where I learned to appreciate how a small detail can make or break a project. Creativity was always encouraged. Drawing, sketching, painting, and of course Legos… always Legos. I recall being fascinated for most of my childhood with different houses and the old building that lined Main Street of my home town. I liked that they all looked different and wondered why some could draw attention day to day without any changes ever occurring to that structure. I also loved math from a very early age. I liked that it was precise.
I suppose I could say that it was an AutoCAD course in 9th grade that inspired the first moment when I “knew” I wanted to be an architect. Maybe it was what made me certain I wanted to pursue architecture into college; however, I recently decided that “knowing” what I wanted to be while in middle school or high school was nothing more than a hope. I say this because I “knew” in that class in 9th grade that I wanted to do architecture because I thought the class was fun, and we got to make something and dream of it being real one day. But I never thought about why it was fun. It was not until I was in college that I really realized why I wanted become an architect, which is the more important understanding to me now.
I look now at what really influenced why I wanted to become an architect and I see how my childhood mattered so much to my career choice. At the time I did not understand that the hands-on activities were developing my need to understand how things work, why they work the way they do, how they should go together, and how they could go together better. I didn’t understand that the captivation that some buildings possess was exactly what I wanted to be able to create. And I didn’t understand at the time that my attraction to math may have been the start as to why I attempt to make sure things are done accurately and precisely at all times.
None of those aspects of my childhood meant anything to me until I was in college and I began to learn that architecture is so much more than simply four walls and a roof. I learned that it includes everything from a skyscraper, down to the smallest of details in nearly everything. I learned that it’s an expression, that it’s a living, breathing, inhabitable form of art that affects everyone and everything around it. Everyone needs it, they just don’t necessarily know it. It’s like knowing what you want to be. I look now and say that I think I always knew. I think deep down I knew that I wanted to become an architect from day one. It was my desire to become an architect that made me look at structures as a child and allowed me to be captivated by them. It was my innate love of architecture that caused me to be thoroughly interested in learning every time my father wanted to show me how something, anything, went together.
The thing is, I just didn’t know what architecture was. So how could I know that’s what I wanted to be? So did I know I wanted to be an architect for the first time in that 9th grade AutoCAD class? No, I don’t believe it took me that long to know it, I think it was just the first opportunity I had to put a title on what had been known for years.