Where It All Went Right


The following is a part of the #ArchiTalks series wherein a topic is suggested and a group of architect bloggers each give their take on the subject.

The topic this month is "Then and Now"

I have never been much of a life planner. I tend to take events and circumstances as they come and either get through them or try to make the best of them. Sometimes I can be rather apathetic to my situation. Which can have it's benefits. But is not very productive if  trying to make a name for oneself. So, I have more or less resigned myself to doing the best work I can in the circumstances I find myself in.

As such, i never really thought much about what a career in architecture could or should look like. I had no specific ambitions nor plans. So when i graduated from Kent State University with a B.A. in philosophy, my job search became geographic rather than goal oriented. By the time i graduated from KSU, in December of 1996, I was married to Amanda and we had one child just over a year old. With both of us working dead end jobs in Ravenna, OHio, we decided to move in with my parents in Ashland, OHio. Amanda got a job right away and i worked some temporary jobs through a temp agency. Mostly in factories and construction. Then i got my big break. In July of 1997, with our second child on the way, i was offered a job with Marion Zaugg, Architect & Designer.

With no architecture degree, my career in architecture was just beginning. I remember quite clearly while discussing benefits with my new employer, the subject of retirement, or lack thereof was broached. To which i responded that i did not plan on retiring from that firm and that i planned on having my own firm someday. As naive and misguided as i now know that statement to be, here i am nearly 20 years later having been my own boss nearly as long as having had worked for another architect.

Though i was really just a draftsperson, the nature of the firm was such that i was able to get quite a breadth of experience in a relatively short amount of time. Three years and two more children later, it was time to go back to school. I was accepted into the Ohio State University Knowlton School of Architecture for their 3+ M.Arch. degree program. I continued to work for Marion during breaks and over summer. After three years and two more children (for any one trying to keep track, we are in 2003 with five children at this point) i graduated with my M.Arch. and went back to work full time for Marion Zaugg. After finishing IDP and making short work of the A.R.E., i was a licensed architect after another two years and no more children. I continued to work for Marion another three years and two more children. Our youngest daughter was just eight months old when our world came crashing down with the recession of 2008 and i found myself no longer employed.

After a year and one half of job searching i decided to hang my own shingle so to speak. So here i sit, going into my seventh year of running my own firm. Business is going better than ever and i find it hard to keep up with the work i have. There have been some difficult times. And for a long time, i was just making enough to make me want to keep at it. But not enough to really make a living at. Fortunately, we have learned to live frugally and Amanda has, despite her desire to be stay-at-home mom, been willing to work full time to fill the gap. I have made some good decisions and some poor decisions along the way. But we continue to work through them and make the best of the circumstances we find ourselves in.

I may not have had the 'ideal' or even 'typical' architecture career, but i am content with where i find myself. Making a difference in the community i call home. And doing the best work opportunity affords me to do.


Below are links to the posts of the other participants in the #ArchiTalks series. I would encourage you to take the time to read them as well.

Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Then-Now: A Sketch Trip

Stephen Ramos - BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
Big Ass Buildings

Michael LaValley - Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
Reflection on My Wonderful, Unexpected Career

Anthony Richardson - That Architecture Student (@thatarchstudent)
Then and Now

Nisha Kandiah - TCDS (@SKRIBBLES_INC)
Then & Now : Still Chasing the Dream

Tim Ung - Journey of an Architect (@timothy_ung)
10 Lessons Learned from a Young Architect

Mark Stephens - Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
#Architalks 22 - Then and now

Bob Borson - Life of An Architect (@bobborson)

Marica McKeel - Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
From Then to Now...Residential Architect

Jeff Echols - Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Well, How Did I Get Here

Mark R. LePage - EntreArchitect (@EntreArchitect)
The Biggest Surprise of My Life as an Architect

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Then & Now...and the middle

Jeremiah Russell, AIA - ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
then and now: #architalks

brady ernst - Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
Pens & Fizzy Drinks: Or How to Set Measurable Career Goals

Jarod Hall - di'velept (@divelept)
The Joys of Being an Architect

Jim Mehaffey - Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
The Reluctant Code Guru

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
How did I get here?

Emily Grandstaff-Rice - Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Being the light in darkness

Kyu Young Kim - Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
Career Path: Follow Your Heart

Nicholas Renard - Renard Architecture (@dig-arch)
15 Years of Architecture

Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
Architalks 22 Then and Now

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
then and now


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