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Advice For New Students in Architecture This Year: Find Your Passion

Here is my opinions / advice for the new students in architecture this year, find your passion.

Find your passion. Then follow.


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I figured out I wanted to be an architect in seventh grade. I followed that interest to community college and then to a four-year university and then graduate school. As a student at the University of Virginia, design studio was the focus. We spent hours and hours doing sketches, building models, and trying to figure out ways to stay awake. I learned valuable lessons of humility, thick skin, and most important, how to think design. The time I had at UVA did a wonderful job preparing me to be a problem solver, but it did not feed my soul as I expected.

I then worked at an architectural firm, the one I own now, for almost three years. I started out doing drafting, red lines is what we called it. Hours and hours of adjusting changes requested by clients, fixing mistakes, and updating details. It was enjoyable work, but more like the feeling of accomplishment you get after mowing a green lawn. You can see your progress made and you can feel good about finishing the task. I was included in design decisions, but I was not designing the solutions. I learned about buildings and how they work. I learned about what to draw and what not to draw. I was learning process and industry standards. I was a part of the team, but I was not driving the solutions. It was what I wanted to do in life, but it turns out this was not my life’s passion. My soul still needed something.

I have written about finding my passion for serving others many times. This is what feeds my soul. The one lecture I attended by Samuel Mockbee gave me permission and vision for how to get there. More on that HERE. The summary is “everybody deserves good design.

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I learned from my parents the importance of taking care of other people. This is my passion. This feeds my soul. It took me a long time to embrace this passion. I thought my passion was to be an architect, but that is only one of the tools I can use in life to serve my community. My passion is to serve my community to help make it a better place for everyone in the community. I wish I could go back to my days in architectural school and really have time to dig into this idea of design to help others. I wish I had identified my passion before my major, but we evolve and things are revealed to us when we are ready to hear and see them.

For all the new architectural students starting their journey. I encourage you to find your passion beneath the major, beyond the school, deep in your heart. What do you want to achieve with your gifts and skills. I hope your passion is to design a better future for all of us. We need more people focused on something deeper than just aesthetics, we need passion for designing a future that builds us all as a community. However, you need to figure out what feeds your soul. Only you can do that work. Finding your passion may be the most important thing you can do while at college.

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It took me years to figure out my passion in life and I am still learning. As a college student please seek out mentors that are doing things that seem interesting to you. Find blogs like this one and read what others that have walked the path you are on have experienced and what they are saying. Seek out beauty in life and figure out what and how it feeds your soul.  Slow down, don’t rush your time. Enjoy the process and explore the why as much as the how and because. Find things that feed your soul and figure out how that ties into your work in studio.

My advice to you – find your passion and then follow it to where it takes you.

Here are some other blogs I have written that might help you become the architect you and your community need you to be in the future:

Best advice for a high school student

Find a mentor

Find a mentor


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