Gifts and Toys For Architecture Students

Toys for Architecture students
Architecture Students are the hardest-working people in the Profession of Architecture.

This is true.

Among the late nights, the hundreds of hours in the studio racking their brains, and the juggling of academic classes that completely disregard the importance of their design work, getting stretched to the max is simply what happens during architecture school. It’s perfect training for life in the real world.

One of my favorite quotes about becoming an architect (which I tweet out sometimes) is:

“If you’re going to do this, you gotta pack your bags, kiss your wife goodbye, and go to war.” –Samual Mockbee

After architecture school is over, most people will never work that hard again. Life begins after architecture school.  I certainly haven’t worked that hard since then. I got close in 2013 with my ARE’s, but that was only for a year.

Architecture Students are also the very best at screwing around.

Yep, this is also true.

When you bring a ton of very creative people together—who have few responsibilities other than getting good grades in college—and give them a studio with 24-hr access to get their homework done in, I guarantee they are going to screw around.

Screwing around is part of the creative process.  Everyone needs to take a break from doing their work. During architecture school, I personally spent tons of time doing things that an outsider might classify as “wasting time” or “messing around.”

I’ll always argue that I was taking a break, and it was part of my creative process—because in the long run, I always got my work done.

Looking back, I realize that I didn’t actually need to take a break or screw around; what I usually needed was to have a good laugh.

Toys for Architecture Students

Below is a list of some pretty cool toys (or gifts) that I have found for Architecture Students:

Young Architect (and Michael Riscica) accepts zero responsibility if you get hurt, kicked out of Architecture school, or arrested—or if your fellow classmates start to hate you. I accept no responsibility if anything undesirable happens due to the information that I share in this blog post.

Make sure you also check out the other Young Architect Gift Posts:


A Video Game Controller

Price varies with controller

This was one of my favorite toys when I was in architecture school, and it makes a great gift. I had a Ms. Pac-Man controller that just connected right into the audio-video input of any TV, computer monitor or projector. The entire video game lived right inside the controller. Just plug it in and start playing.  Having a Ms. Pac-Man tournament on a 25’ projection screen in the middle of the night was a regular occurrence in my design studio.

Pacman Controller 41GJzkycBVL sw controller

Here is a link to the controller that I had. Over the past few years many new controllers have become available.

Cheerson CX-10a


A mini drone is $20

2015 was the year of the Drone. Never has owning a drone been more accessible than it was this year. I have been telling all my friends with kids that if they don’t buy their kid a drone for Christmas this year, they are basically a terrible parent.

In 2015, I purchased a $500 drone, a $100 drone, and several $20 drones. After tons of messing around, the big conclusion I have arrived at is that the smaller, cheaper drones are actually the most fun to fly—especially indoors! I chase my dog with it.

I’ve tried several small drones, and my favorite so far is the Cheerson CX-10a. This is my official office drone; it’s perfect for flying around conference rooms and across the office.

A $20 drone definitely has a lifespan to it. Basically, the more you crash it, the shorter its life is. Nevertheless, each time I have killed a Cheerson CX-10a, I have gotten well worth my $20 of entertainment from it.

Quick tip: I highly recommend using the dorky-looking propeller-protection covers to extend the life of the Cheerson CX-10a.



Razor Scooters 

A good scooter is about $25

Once when I was visiting MIT, I saw a middle-aged Indian Woman riding a Razor Scooter to get to class through the miles of long corridors on the MIT campus. Brilliant!

The Architecture School I went to was built in a former horse stable, and the building was long and skinny. It was basically the length of a football field. The library and printers were at either end of the building, with studio space in between. So traveling back and forth across the building over and over again was inevitable.  Eventually, I just started riding a razor scooter across the building. I tried not to do it during office hours and avoided ever letting the Administration or Dean see me riding it inside the building.

I couldn’t recommend the Razor Scooter enough for indoor transportation. I had several scooters during college. The cheap ones are great, but the Official Razor Scooters were really the best. I always broke the cheap scooters doing jumps or tricks with them.


Hover Boards

Hoover boards are between $250-500

2015 is also the year of the Hoover Board. The Hoover Board is basically a smaller version of a Segway. I always thought the Segway was cool, but they were easily several thousands of dollars— thus, very far out of reach for most people.  Within the past 6 months, Hoover boards have suddenly appeared out of nowhere and are available between $300-500.

I haven’t purchased a Hoover Board yet, but I plan on getting one to walk my dog. I'm waiting until this spring after the rainy season is over in Portland Oregon.


Wiffle Ball

Wiffle Ball set is about $5 Make sure you get some extra balls

We played a ton of wiffle ball during architecture school. It got pretty competitive. What was nice about wiffle ball was that everyone got involved, and it forced everyone to go outside. However, batting practice in the hallways did occasionally happen.


Indoor Basketball Hoop

An $8 hoop or a $30 hoop

I had a little basketball hoop in my studio during my thesis year. I would sometimes place the garbage can under it, and I would practice my shots with garbage sketches on trace paper while I was hacking my way through the design process.

Here’re two basketball hoops, a cheap one and a fancy one:



A Cheap Tripod and Smartphone Connector

Tripod is $10 and smartphone connector is $8

I never owned a tripod until recently. This is a shame. It’s because they are always soo expensive, and I never cared enough to make the investment.

I recently purchased a super-cheap tripod and a smart phone connector because I wanted to mess around with the time lapse feature on my iPhone. Shortly after making this video, I ended up accidentally leaving this tripod in Mexico.

Luckily, the tripod was only $15, and I don’t really feel too bad about losing it. I guess it’s kind of like losing a cheap pair of sunglasses. Someday, I will eventually upgrade to a nice tripod, but until then, I’m gonna keep messing around with the cheap ones.

Yellow glasses

Yellow “Sun” Glasses 

$30 on amazon

The winters in Portland, Oregon, are grey, cold, and wet. The sun does make an brief appearance almost every day, but during the winter, it only lasts for about 10 minutes. And then it’s back to grey, cloudy skies.   After not seeing sunshine for a while, it starts to wear on people, and everyone gets very irritable.

I bought these glasses 2 years ago, and I keep them in my winter jacket pocket. I call them my “Sun” glasses. I wear them during cloudy days, or even at night.

What happens when I wear them? That’s easy, wearing them just puts me in a better mood. It turns any dark, depressing day into feeling like you’re at the beach. It really works! These “Sun” glasses are also excellent for wearing when you are feeling sick, hungover or just haven’t slept in a few days.


Kangaroo Jumping Stilts

About $285

Check out this video:

I’m just sayin’…


Cards against humanity

Cards Against Humanity

$25 for the set and $10 for the expansion decks

Playing Cards Against Humanity is one of the most hilarious games ever invented.

If you don’t know, the premise of the game is that someone pulls a card with a question. Then using the cards in your hand, you choose a response to their question. The person who asked the question chooses the best answer. Meanwhile, the questions and answers are both totally hilarious.

My friend gave me the Cards against Humanity set one year as a Christmas present. After a few months, I purchased all the expander packs to keep the game fresh and interesting.

crabs adjust humidity

While writing this blogpost I learned there is a dirtier funnier expansion set called Crabs Adjust Humidity.



Only $15 on Amazon

Megaphones can be a ton of fun. During college, my best friend and I used to drive around Boston, talking to people on the street with a megaphone. With all the college kids in Boston, keeping a megaphone in the car always kept things pretty interesting.


Adult Jenga

$150 on Amazon

Jenga is an awesome game for architecture students. I bet with some 2X lumber, a woodshop, and some time, you could build your own adult-sized Jenga set.

I just learned that nowadays, there are million different types of Jenga sets:

Make sure you also check out the other Young Architect Gift Posts:



Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect, Founder and Head Coach of the ARE Boot Camp Coaching Program & Online Study Group.

Hi I’m Michael Riscica.

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