Gaines Group Architects
waterfall house

My best advice for future architectural students…

Here is my best advice for future architectural students: I met with a high school student this morning that is getting acceptance letters to a variety of architectural schools. She is clearly an exceptional student and has passion for pursuing architecture. She is clearly stressed with this very important decision looming on the horizon.



So how should you start your architectural journey – what is really the best way and place? I have to admit, there is no right answer and certainly no wrong answer (UVA and Tennessee being my choices). My best advice is find your passion and follow it, run after, jump for it, fight for it. Finding your passion will make you a better person and the world needs better people right now more than they need anything else.

Roberto the Insect Architect

If you are interested in architecture – what kind of architecture? Do you enjoy the aesthetics of design or the function of design? Do you like modern or traditional? Do you like firms that focus on large projects or small projects? Do you want to work in a small firm or a large firm? Do you want to do university work or houses? Honestly, you will take years to answer these questions and maybe will never answer them completely. Passion on the other hand you probably already know. My passion is service to others. I want to create a better future through design. I can see things that others do not – not ghosts or anything cool like that – design solutions. I can identify problems that others do not identify. I find solutions that make life more fun, enjoyable, sustainable, workable, and livable. I follow my passion by designing but also through writing blogs, teaching, talking until you are completely zoned out about building science, and advocating for better design decisions. I always knew I wanted to help others, I just did not make the connection between my passion and my interest in architecture until I met Sambo.

Hurricane Katrina

Find your passion and you will find success. Perhaps you pick school 1 to start your journey. It is only the start of the journey, you are learning along the way – stop putting so much pressure on this decision. You are going to find out that you like particular architects – for me it was Richard Meier and Tadao Ando, but then your taste will change as you learn. I moved from very sculptural architects to purpose driven architects like Sambo after many years of learning design. You will evolve along with your passion at any school you select. If you are following your passion, you will impact the school you are at and change others around you. Passion inspires passion. 

falling water

So my best advice I can give you as a future architect is to find and follow your passion and be the best person you can be every day. Also, prepare for an experience like you have never imagined. Architectural school is different. Nothing can prepare you for the fun you are going to have over the next 4 or 5 years. You will live on caffeine, rejection, success, friends, tears, sketch paper, sawdust, pizza, pens – all kinds of pens – with different points and inks and weights and styles and colors, knives very sharp knives that you use late at night with no sleep for days, band aids – go ahead and stock up you are going to need them remember no sleep and sharp knives,  discussions, talks, questions, random and obscure references that you will pretend to understand when said and you will say back to people when they ask you to look at their design still not really knowing what they mean, tape, push pins, power naps – forget sleep for a while, books and more books – mainly for the pictures you will be too tired for words – go ahead and give up on words for a while, travel, community, friends, enemies, friendenemies, and it will all go by so fast you will no even blink. Now, go make a good decision, find a school that has professors with passion and learn everything you can learn from them. They are better people and you want to be around better people. Oh and wear a lot of black – it looks cool – unique glasses are a bonus…

Charley Brown