The Young Architect Gift Guide 2014

Architect Gift

Happy Holidays Everyone!!!

One of my favorite things in the entire world is to buy an awesome present for someone, get completely OCD about how it is wrapped and how straight the lines are and then give it to someone!!!! I love presents! I love the holidays!


I hate holiday shopping. I avoid it as much as possible and buy everything online. I can’t handle the malls, the music and the madness.

Six months ago I started compiling a kick ass list of holiday gifts to share on this blog. I created this list with the intention of doing one of the following:

  1. I would tip-off the Young Architects on a cool architect gift to buy for other people.
  2. Friends and family would come here to find a gift for a Young Architect.
  3. I would introduce something to you that you can then ask someone else to buy for you, to ensure you don’t get the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book. (My mom gave me chicken soup for the soul books for 4 years in a row when I was kid, because she thought I liked them!?)

I hope this list helps with your holiday gifts in one way or another.

Make sure you also check out some of the other Young Architect Gift posts:

The Young Architect Gift Guide 2014

How to Pass tthe Architecture Registration Exam E-Book

How To Pass The Architecture Registration Exam by Michael Riscica

$24.95 as a Downloadable E-book

Written and Self Published by This book about the Architecture Registration Exam shares how and why I completed the ARE, why very few people I knew completed the Architecture Licensing process and what the many failures and successes I encountered were.

It also provides a comprehensive roundup of all the tips, tricks and hacks that I learned from my extensive—and at times, challenging—personal experience with the Architect Exam.  Download a free chapter  


War of art

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

$12 on Amazon

The War of Art is one of greatest essays ever written about creativity. It should be required reading for every artist, designer, entrepreneur, student or anyone building something great will go through a creative process. I buy 5 copies of this book at a time and give them away to everyone I know.



Laser Measure Kit

A Laser Tape Measure and The Stanley Power Tape

Laser tape is about $100 and the Stanley Power Lock Tape is $10

Measuring buildings, accurately, quickly and then drawing them is how I began my career in architecture and continues to be a recurring theme.

Using a laser tape measure can drastically reduce the time it takes to measure a building by at least 4 times. I will even argue that the lasers are much more accurate than a regular tape measure. Look at the picture, 129′-11 15/16″. In my world that's 130′, but try getting that dimension with a tape and it would come in at around 130′-3″.  Lasers have come a long way in the past 10 years and now they are very affordable and make a perfect architect gift.

A few years ago I measured an industrial 30,000 sf  building in 1 day all by myself! Quick and easy! Without a laser it would have taken 2 people at least 2 days due to the very long dimensions.

Lasers haven’t completely replaced tape measures. No, not at all! For smaller jobs a good tape measure is just easier to use and faster. There’s a lot of tape measures on the market but I have found that the Stanley Power tape is officially “The (American) Architect’s Tape Measure”. When you're measuring buildings you want everything in feet and inches and just inches.



picture of The Architect Godfather t shirt

The Architect Godfather Shirt

$30 on Zazzle



Architect Barbie

Architect Barbie

$70-100 on Amazon – It’s a collector’s item
All I’m going to say is that Ken is one lucky dude.



Roomba 650

Roombas aren’t cheap its $359.99 on Amazon

I have a Yellow Labrador Retriever who leaves dog hair everywhere. 2 years ago I bought a Roomba and it has changed my life. I sat on the fence for a long time. Now I wonder how the hell I ever lived without.

If you're wondering “Whats a Roomba?” it’s a vacuum cleaner robot that drives itself all over my apartment vacuuming, while I’m not home!

Here’s 3 reasons on why I’m sold on the Roomba.

  1. I need to vacuum every single day and realistically that’s just not possible. Yet, it is possible to run the Roomba every day, while I take the dog for a walk.
  2. Using a Roomba forced a huge behavior shift, mainly because you can’t leave any clothes, wires or papers on the floor, otherwise it will get stuck. This resulted with everything being put back in its place much more consistently.
  3. It solved the dust problem. Sure the floors are cleaner but there also a lot less dust and pet dander everywhere else in the apartment.

The Roomba is winning the war on dog hair and I’ll never live without one.



Architect Exam Prep Review

Architect Exam Prep

$100 for each ARE division

Are you studying for the Architect Registration Exam? Do you need a gift for someone studying for it?
Architect Exam Prep is the new guy on the ARE study scene, and they are giving both Ballast and Kaplan a run for their money. A few months ago, I purchased and wrote a thorough review of their package for the Construction Documents and Services (CDS) exam. They do an awesome job of getting you up to speed very quickly.
Each of the 7 divisions sell for $100 but considering the amount of information they give you it's a freaking bargain. Each divisions includes the following:
  • Study guide
  • Printable flashcards
  • MP3 Audio content
  • Vignette guide
  • Vignette workbook w/ sample problems,
  • Access to an online mock exam simulator with multiple practice exams
  • Videos walking you through the vignettes
  • They are even working on a mobile app.
Architect Exam Prep can easily exchange the divisions as long as they are not redeemed, but you need provide the name of the purchaser so they can switch the download. All divisions are the same price so it makes giving ARE study materials a super easy Christmas gift!



Fancy hands logo for christmas gift list

A Fancy Hands Membership

Between $25-150

I love Fancy Hands.

Fancy Hands is a virtual assistance company that does small 15 minute tasks. When I started this service, I was very skeptical. Now it is a big part of my daily routine and they have saved me an incredible amount of time. It’s like having a personal butler.

I frequently have them: research things online, find the best prices, buy airline tickets, research people across all social media channels, make calls for me, setup appointments and help me manage all my projects. A few months ago, I wrote long review about how I have been using fancy hands to help me throughout my day.



bird feeder

The Official “How to Architect” Bird Feeder

$29.95 from

The Architect Bird Feeder was designed by architect Doug Patt. Super Great design, brilliant idea and awesome animation.




Mastery by Robert Green

$13 on Amazon

Mastery is an incredible book that uses historical examples and analyzes the characteristics, behaviors and habits of people who have become a master in their field. This book validates the process of beginning great in any discipline. There are many fantastic lessons that can be learned and applied to the profession of architecture. Mastery is perfect for a long air plane trip.




Villa Savoye Lego

$69.99 on Amazon

How do you keep an architect distracted for 3.5 hours?

Give them a Lego model set of Villa Savoye to build!

A few weeks ago, I bought and built this model. I was really impressed. The model comes with a beautiful book telling the history of the building. The directions are all axonometric diagrams, with no words! I had more fun building this then I ever thought I would. In fact I got so addicted to building my Lego model I decided to stay in and finish it instead of going out on a Saturday night to have drinks with friends. I think I’m going to build Fallingwater next!

****Quick Lego Building Tip: All the Lego pieces come in about 8 different bags. Do not mix all the loose Legos together. Keep them separated in the groups they came in. I put them in Ziploc bags to keep things neat and organized. Also the orange handle is for removing connected Legos pieces. I realized this after I was done and used my X-acto to break apart Lego pieces.



homebrew kit


The Joy of Home Brewing by Charlie Papazian and a Home Brew Kit

Joy of home brewing is $13   and the home brew kit is $89.99

Learning how to brew your own beer is the greatest hobby for an architect. The science, history and process of brewing beer is absolutely fascinating. There are many aspects of learning how to brew beer that reminded me of learning about architecture and design.  I taught myself how to brew a few years ago. Someday I will finish a blog post I started writing called “The Architects Guide to Brewing Beer”

Charlie Papazian wrote the joy of home brewing which is the bible of home brewing. He really wonderfully teaches about beer and the brewing process. This is a great read even if you have no intention of ever brewing but are interested in learning more about beer.

This home brew kit has everything you need to get started brewing beer.



chaos tower asdf

Chaos Tower

The tower is $150 and the accessory pack is $50

I found this on amazon a few weeks ago getting distracted at the office. It involves building a giant tower to move around a marble.

This is actually what I want for Christmas this year. Part of me thinks I’ll need about 3 of them so I can let it grow like crazy all over my apartment.




 Construction Calculator

A Construction Calculator

$30 on Amazon

A nice construction calculator is the perfect gift for an Architect. Just like a laser tape measure, a construction calculator is one of those things that you don’t know what you missing until after you’ve started using one.




Unbuilding by David Macaulay

$12 on Amazon

Unbuilding is a fictional children’s book that starts by telling the history of the Empire State Building with some really beautiful drawings. Through a wild turn of events the building gets purchased by an Arab Prince and the building is to be dismantled and shipped to the Middle East. The book then goes into great detail about the process of dismantling the empire state building and preparing it to be shipped with some really amazing drawings.



Stainless Steel Sharpie

A Stainless Steel Sharpie

Regular sharpie is $7 and the refills are $2

Fine point sharpie is $5 and the refills are 2 for $8

The sharpie is to an architect, as a hammer is to a carpenter.


 Las Sillas Stacking Chairs Game

Stacking Chair Game

$65 on Amazon

This is like Jenga for architects.



wifi booster

A Wifi Booster

$18 on Amazon

This gift isn’t so glamorous, but yet an awesome gift. It adds a second wireless modem to your computer which is extremely strong. I carry this little guy with me in my bag and when I’m somewhere the Wi-Fi connection isn’t that great I just plug this in and it boosts up the strength of my Wi-Fi signal.

Having a second modem also really accelerates my file transfer speed, which is super important now that we keep all our files on the cloud.

Make sure you also check out some of 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.

My goal is to help as many people as I can PASS their exams and succeed in their architecture careers.

This is accomplished with the following offerings:

Free FB group that is 12k+ members strong
Low-cost, high-value upcoming webinar
Affordable and Quality ARE Study materials
Professional Development and Powerful Networking
Premium 10-week ARE study program