flexiblefullpage - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
Currently Reading

Being an Architect is Hell

billboard -

Being an Architect is Hell

By Bob Borson, FAIA December 9, 2018

As an architect, every space I walk in to, I look at … intensely. I scrutinize, evaluate, process, and redesign. Every. Single. Space. There are times when I wish this didn’t happen … most of the time actually. Being blissfully unaware of unresolved plan geometries – particularly when I am not “on the clock” sounds pretty good but I know it won’t be that way for me any longer. I have completely crossed over to the architect side.


My Secret Life as a “Hooker Architect”  [2:05 – minute mark]
I’m not proud to admit that I’ve sold myself cheaply before but I need to admit the truth so that I can move on with my recovery.

scene: standing room only crowd but I don’t recognize anyone since nobody is wearing black or heavy-framed glasses

Moderator: Is there anyone new here tonight that would like to share?
Me: (standing) Hi everyone, my name is Bob … and I am a hooker-architect.

… I think you get the idea.


The shower that started it all [3:08 – minute mark]
This photo … may not bother some people, but it bothers me greatly. It’s not just the aesthetics that I find troublesome, it is the that it apparently didn’t bother countless others before I found it. There isn’t anything here that would have been troublesome to repair, from the framer who might have set the header too high, to the plumber


My New House is embarrassing … “irrafrustration”  [8:28 – minute mark]
Buying a new house is stressful for just about everyone, myself included. The actual act of trying to find a house that doesn’t make me want to claw my eyeballs out is a challenge … because I am ridiculously picky and I actually see all the crap that most people miss. This “gift” is a blessing and a curse because it allows me to recognize a house for its potential rather than rely upon the vision of others to present the house in a more complete and finished manner. Even though I can block some pretty obnoxious and offensive decisions out of my mind, it’s like some people go out of their way to make a house assault you with color schemes and construction techniques from bygone eras and lots of poorly executed DIY weekend projects.

This is the case of the house I just bought – house number 6 if you’re keeping track. Pretty good overall structure but a lot of [shudder] on the surface.

I design houses for a living, which makes the current appearance of my house particularly painful.  What you know versus what you can afford versus what you are capable are not necessarily in alignment with one another and I am acutely aware of these discrepancies because I know that I am going to be evaluated by the appearance of my house.


Andrew’s Own Dante’s 2nd Intersection of Hell [10:32 – minute mark]
Every house has instances that are irritating to architects. This is especially true when an architect buys an existing house. This condition in my own house it one that continually puts me in hell on a daily basis. Although I have lived in my house for sixteen years now, I still avert my eyes from these two conditions. It is one of those instances that I cannot change without some major work; like tearing off the roof of the house. So I just have to force myself to live with this annoyance in my own house.  (Not to mention the popcorn ceiling.)


Painting isn’t Fun Anymore [17:39 – minute mark]
While I don’t consider myself a complete neat freak, especially since I don’t have a maid and any cleaning that takes place is done “in-house” (i.e. me and my wife), I would categorize my level of cleanliness on par with a moderately well-managed hospital – you could eat off the floors, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Based on all the evidence I have observed first-hand, the cleanliness level of the previous owner of my house would fall somewhere south of that mark … somewhere in the neighborhood of “well-intentioned crack den.”


It is the Small Things [23.55 – minute mark]
So the need to match existing door hardware in my purchased house created some agony for me as an architect. As you can see, they are not quite matching pieces. I am sure the differences may not drive a normal person to the edge, but for architects, we can find more reasons these two images stretch our nerves to the limits. This goes beyond the obvious concealed attachments and keyhole. The finish is not matching and the actual shapes are not exactly the same. It may be difficult to tell from the photos, but they are ever so slightly not the same shape.


The overwhelming amount of evidence (the vast majority of which has been held back) would suggest that the people who were hired to do the work, as well as the people who hired them, either didn’t care or knowingly tried to get in and out with the least amount of expense. These shortcuts are evidenced everywhere in everyday life, and maybe it’s just my perception but architects seem to be dialed in a bit more obsessively than most when it comes to taking the easy path. At some point, probably for mental health purposes, I would imagine people need to prioritize the things that they allow to bring them pain and suffering. I will readily admit that I am more sensitive to the pain brought on by ocular assault than I might be of something I find less offensive … like bad acting.

In the meantime, let’s try to keep it together.

leaderboard2 - default
boombox2 -
halfpage2 -
native1 -
native2 -
halfpage1 -
leaderboard1 -