The Gaines Group
philip simmons

How often in a day do you get to use your soul? How Sambo changed my life as an architect.

Finding joy in your daily work is a huge gift, giving joy to others is even better.

Charleston South Carolina Iron Work

I figured out that I wanted to be an architect in seventh grade, Mr. Price’s class at Northside Junior High School. From there I took every design class I could through high school and community college. When I arrived at The University of Virginia, William McDonough had just arrived as the new dean of the architectural school.


I truly had no idea what design was at that point, but was eager to learn. Taking studios under architectural heavy weights like Ed Ford, Bill Sherman, and Craig Barton gave me insights into my future. Learning the way designers can problem solve to give a balanced, beautiful, and effective solution was a huge step in me finding my true passion. I also took a course taught by William McDonough on the impacts design can have for social change where he brought leaders from around the world to tell their stories. 

However, it was Sambo that changed the course of my life in architecture. He gave a lecture at the University where he told the story of the rural studio. He talked about how you can use your soul to make better lives for other people through design. He explained his mission to do better in the world. I began researching him and found inspiration in his career path. I could marry my love of problem solving and design with my desire to serve others in my community. You don’t have to fly around the world to find those in need, they exists in your community. They come in every shape, size, color, and income level. Architecture is a profession of service. You can deliver highly functional, effective, and efficient solutions to your clients to make their lives more vibrant, healthy, and happy. It is an amazing gesture to make someone else’s life more livable. That lesson from Sambo was a true gift that changed my life as an architect.