AIA | Brian Penschow
Brian didn’t always know that he wanted to go into architecture. His first inclination was to go into marine biology, but he lost interest in that after learning what his likely salary would be in that field. Brian was good at math, science, and technology in high school, and his father was a mechanical engineer, so Brian decided to go into mechanical engineering himself. He enrolled in Rutgers with that goal in mind. However, it didn’t work out as planned.
Brian discovered that he didn’t have to do much studying or class participation in order to maintain high grades, so he found other ways to entertain himself instead. However, he began partying too much, and ended up being arrested for what was basically teen-age trouble-making and got kicked out of school. Brian returned home and got a job at a gas station and then a liquor store. He was still drinking too much and got a DWI. At this point, a young man of just 20, Brian knew it was time to make a change. He stopped drinking and enrolled in Union County College. He started out there taking business classes, then discovered architecture and finally knew that he’d found something to be inspired by.
Brian enrolled in the New Jersey Institute of Technology after graduating from Union County College. However, he experienced another setback when his father had a heart attack shortly after he started at NJIT. When his father died, Brian not only lost a parent, he lost his major source of financial and emotional support.
Brian managed to finish the architecture program at NJIT, got married, bought a house, and settled into his first architecture job. Later, he was headhunted by a company building large, expensive houses. He took the job, but when the 2008 financial crisis hit, the work dried up, and Brian returned to his original architecture firm. When Superstorm Sandy hit, the disaster ended up revitalizing the architecture field in the area, giving Brian’s firm plenty of work and experience, and this eventually led to him moving on to new projects and challenges.
What You’ll Hear on This Episode
How Brian went from an interest in marine biology to mechanical engineering to architecture
Brian’s college experience
Brian’s architecture school experience
Brian’s first architecture job
How Brian was affected by the 2008 financial crisis
How Superstorm Sandy affected the architecture field in New Jersey
How Brian got his own business started
The kinds of projects Brian is working on now
Brian’s experiences with mentorship and the AIA
Brian’s advice for aspiring architects
What Brian knows now that he didn’t know then
The book that changed everything for Brian
The resource that Brian can’t do without
Brian’s best time-saving trick
How listeners can connect with Brian
Top 3 Takeaways from This Episode
- You don’t have to be defined by your mistakes.
- Perseverance is a key quality that an architect needs to have.
- The business aspect of architecture is as important as the building aspect.
Brian Penschow’s Advice for Aspiring Architects
“The number one piece of advice that I can think of is don’t quit. There are a lot of personality traits and characteristics you’re going to need to rely on and you’re going to need to strengthen as an architect, but the number one thing you need is grit.”
“I know today that architecture is a business.”–Brian Penschow on what he knows today that he didn’t know back then
“It’s got everything I need in here.” –Brian Penschow on the book that changed everything, Architectural Graphic Standards
“I do a lot of work out of my F150.”–Brian Penschow on the resource he can’t live without
“Put everything on your calendar.” – Brian Penschow on his best timesaving trick