Why Did You Become An Architect?

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This weeks blog post is proudly sponsored by the monthly #ArchiTalks series.  Please take a  few moments to click on the links at the bottom of this blog post to learn why all the other Architect Bloggers answer the same question “Why did you become an Architect?”

Why did you become  an Architect?


To look really cool at parties.

To impress hot babes.

To make boatloads of money.

For the job security, excellent benefits, pension, and retirement.

For the flexible work hours.

Because it allows me time off to travel the world.

For the great pay right out of college and minimal student debt.

To be respected amongst other professionals and on the jobsite.

Because I really, really love Frank Lloyd Wright, and I want to be like him.


Should I keep going or start over?


Why did you become an Architect?

I don’t know.

I didn’t know I wanted to pursue Architecture until I was about twenty years old. But before then, I was pretty lost.

Growing up, I hated school. I was terrible at it. I hated authority and was generally miserable from elementary school through high school. Before college, my education was a complete struggle. No, actually it was a battle.

When I graduated high school special ed., I had very, very low confidence in what I could do or accomplish in my life. Going to college made no sense; I had zero skills and no idea as to how I was going to fit into the world. It was an awkward few years of my life.

Soooo, why did you become an Architect?

It all started because I taught myself 2D AutoCAD (which I found enjoyable), and I soon realized, “OMG, I could do this to make money!”

I started in architecture merely for survival. I quickly landed myself a job working for a high-end residential architect.

I just wanted to draw on a computer and get paid for it. I started really enjoying learning about the profession and how things worked. I developed a deep appreciation for the craft of putting together a great set of construction drawings or (more importantly) the Art of Giving Instructions.

I had no other plan in life, and being an Architect’s Whipping Boy was working out for me at that time.


Why did you become an Architect?

I began taking community college classes to get better at my newly discovered vocation: Drafting!

For the first time in my life, I did really well in school. I kept learning more and more about drafting and architecture.

For years, I operated from the paradigm of, “I’ll work for an Architect,” and never, “I’ll be an Architect.” But the more I moved into a real architecture education, I started to realize I had many skills and traits that uniquely made me qualified to do this work.


Like what?!??


  • I have an incredible memory for buildings, environments, and relationships of space. And I can basically remember the spatial configurations from everywhere I have ever been.
  • I had more time than everyone else. I partied a lot in high school and grew up much faster than many other architecture students. Girls and partying didn’t matter so much by my early twenties. So I literally dedicated all of my time, money, and energy to architecture school.
  • I have always related to the world as if everything has a life or a personality. Whether it’s a floorplan, an urban place, a painting, or a piece of furniture, I acknowledge the energy of these things—the same way I see people. I have relationships with environments the same way I have relationships with people.
  • I am really good at juggling many moving parts, making sense and synthesizing information that has nothing to do with each other.
  • I developed a deep appreciation for the history of architecture and the theories behind it.
  • I love the fact that this work requires being multi-disciplined and having the ability to wear many hats, not just an Architect hat.

I was a good architecture student, but I certainly wasn’t the best. To be honest, the biggest advantages I had were being creative and the ability to outwork everyone else.

Even then, I was constantly wondering if I was really good enough to be in the program I was in.

Whenever I reevaluated if I should really be becoming an architect, all of the data always told me to keep going with it. I always liked it, but I questioned if the grass was greener doing something else. But I had no ideas or options about doing anything else.

Even then, I still never thought I would become an Architect.


Why did you become an Architect?

After college, I was very lost for the first few years.

I went from this very beautiful experience in architecture school into pushing a lot of paper and drawings at a firm. Even though I worked in firms throughout architecture school, the fact that I was finally forced to embrace the real world freaked me out.

I tried to go back to architecture school, but that wasn’t an option.

I debated about finding another way to make a living, but that didn’t make sense either.

Eventually, I realized that I wanted nothing more than to be in charge of my own life and independent of an employer or anyone else providing me an employment situation.

Building on my existing architecture experience, getting my license as an architect seemed like the logical next step toward moving in that direction.


Why did you become an Architect?

Once I started studying for the Architecture Registration Exam, I started to see the profession in a different way. The ARE became like getting another degree, but it forced me to learn everything I didn’t learn in college. Many things about the profession that I never understood started making sense.

I quickly started to really appreciate the office job that I struggled with for many years.

One beautiful thing the ARE does is that it really beats into your skull that practicing architecture is all about providing service. You’re protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public, the environment, and the disabled.

I started to see how my contribution in the office played out in the bigger picture of the world. It took me a long time to really understand how this work trickled down to real people in real life. But when I started making those connections, it slapped me in the face.

Several years ago, I took a Project Manager position with the City of Portland, which is where I work now. The concept of serving the public is something I think and talk about every single day.

Everything I do is closely linked to helping people. I do a ton of ADA projects and am constantly focused on making decisions that are based on the best interests of the City Employees, the public, and the taxpayers.


Why did you become an Architect?

Around the end of 2012, I suddenly got fed up with not being a licensed architect. I felt that after all the projects, education, experiences, and dedication to this profession, I was entitled to be licensed, and the only thing standing in my way was a few tests. So I did everything I could to get them out of my life.

Most importantly, I haven’t stopped working since the Architect exam, and I am now getting very close to jumping off the cliff and becoming an Entrepreneur Architect.


 Why did you become an Architect?

The answer to why I became an architect has changed several times since I started this journey 15 years ago, but today the answer I give is about service.

I love helping people.

I love using my knowledge of design and construction to help people be more successful. I do this every day at my job with the City of Portland.

I have become very passionate about handicap accessibility.

I love to teach.  I teach 3rd and 5th graders about design. I always wanted to teach at a University, but I decided to start writing a blog for Young Architects instead.

I love seeing this profession do good in the world. I get really excited about creative people finding creative ways to make people’s lives better—people who have less than them.

I can connect with that.


#ArchiTalks Peeps

Learn why the rest of the rest of the Architecture blogging community answers why they became an Architect.

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
Why I am an Architect (and not an Astronaut)

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
Why am I an architect?

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
why i am an architect

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
#ArchiTalks: Why I am an architect

Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design (@modarchitect)
Purpose in the Profession

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“why i am an architect…”

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks: Why I am an Architect

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
I like to make and create.

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
The Agrarian Pantheon

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
I am what I am…

Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
Why I am an Architect, when I could have been a Mathematician #ArchiTalks

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice AIA (@egraia)
Why I Am an Architect

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Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect, and the creator of Young Architect, an online platform and community dedicated to helping the next generation of Architects become the most successful generation of Architects. 
Connect: Linkedin / Facebook / Instagram

Hi there!

I’m Michael Riscica, the guy behind Young Architect. I write to help Architecture Students, ARE Candidates and Young Architecture Professionals be more successful at school, work and life!


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