Beards of an Architect

December 15, 2011 — 44 Comments

Let’s talk stereotypes here for a minute.

What do you think of when I say “Architect”?

Something like this…

architects in black and heavy glasses


A clean shaven man in all black?  Thick rimmed glasses? Pretentious pose?

We could substitute the clothes…leave or take the glasses…but the clean shaven part…well, that image doesn’t go away.

Which brings me to today’s topic: Beards and Architects.

If you have no interest in beard culture or beard jargon then I suggest you navigate away from this page now.  But if you have any interest in learning how a beard could one day save your life… then please, read on. (Bob, taught me that….it’s called “The Hook”.  It’s a great literary tool to use when you know your reader has no interest in what they’re reading but you need them to hang on for a few more paragraphs.)

Take a few seconds and try to create a mental picture of a bearded architect. Go ahead.  Think…and don’t try and imagine Charles Darwin or Abraham Lincoln wearing a black turtleneck sketching up a skyscraper.

Ok, now that you’ve got a headache take some Tylenol and focus for a second.

Need a little help? Try Google searching “Beard + Architect”.  What do you get?  A whole lot of nothing.

Actually don’t Google search that because there are a few architecture firms with “Beard” in their firm name and they shouldn’t be getting any free press out of this post.

The truth of the matter is that architects don’t have beards, well, real beards anyway.  I’m not talking about that crap you grew in studio because you hadn’t slept/showered/shaved in 5 days when you were in college. I’m talkin’ about an intentional “I’m sorry, we lost that new youth center project because the clients thought that homeless people work here” kind of beard.

My brief research came up with a few examples of bearded architect…


Look at this guy…


Watson Fothergill...Victorian architect from Nottingham, England

I assume that this was the style back then so Mr. Fothergill probably only had a beard out of peer pressure.


Thom Mayne

Architect Thom Mayne from Morphosis

with some sort of an o’clock shadow.


Philip Johnson

Architect Philip Johnson

He grew some scruff towards the end of his career (a little creepy if you ask me).


Carlo Scarpa

Architect Carlo Scarpa

He had a very clear understanding of the coolness of bearding AND smoking…and sometimes, at the same time!


Sam Mockbee

Architect Samuel Mockbee

Now we’re getting somewhere.  Finally a credible example of an architect with a beard. You can tell in his eyes that he has a plan and shaving is not part of it.

So what’s the problem with architects and their lack of beards?  Is it the fact that architects are neat freaks and they don’t like having cookie crumbs stuck in their facial hair all day? (btw, that happened to me last week)  Is it the fact that there isn’t an AutoCAD command to help grow/trim/array a beard?  Do architects not want to dedicate the time to grow a beard?  Do they have commitment issues? Or, is it a response to the way society expects professionals to appear?

Either way, I’m sick of it.  It’s time to ditch the clean shaven look and move into a new era of respectfully bearded architects. I’m making a plea to all of the architects in the world (women can grow beards too) to challenge the status quo and live a little more beardier.

After you’ve decided that you want to join the movement realize that there may be some drawbacks to sporting a beard in your office. If you have an uptight boss you might not get that promotion you’ve been hoping for. You probably wont get that Christmas bonus you were banking on to help pay off that jet-ski/pool/Ferrari you were going to buy.

If you have some commitment issues I’ve included an instant beard kit that you can download and cut out to wear around the office. You know, to help you get a feel for things.

Fake Beard Kit



If any of your coworkers ask what your doing tell them that you’re part of a movement…a movement that is vital to reinventing the perception of how architects are viewed.  They’ll probably look at you funny and take a break from going out to lunch with you for a few weeks.

Now, if your boss asks about it… you need to respond a little differently.  Quickly turn the beard over to the white side and say…

“It’s a Santa beard!  I’m just trying to spread some holiday cheer!”

…after all,  you don’t want to miss out on that Christmas bonus this year.




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  • Stephen Ramos

    this blog should be revisited. this was written pre-beard revolution. it’s a hairy world now. -Steve

  • Larry

    Hey, the current president of the Ontario Association of Architects is well bearded, as am I. But neither of us wear exclusive black or sport Corbu glasses so do we count?

  • habib

    I am an architect thats fresh out of university and I am sporting a decent 4 month old beard (my Persian/Pakistani roots means I grow a full beard fast) and I’m loving every inch of it! But even though I’m living in an Arabian/islamic country I still get told to shave everyday and the peer pressure is killing me.. now I’ve got a job interview in a few days and I’ve been told by friends and family that I wouldn’t stand a chance with my (very well groomed) beard. As a creative I feel I need to express myself and the beard does it so well for me. I hate what society has come to and honestly, I apologise to bring this up, but if this is hurting me so much… I can’t imagine how bad people feel when they get hate from racist societies. I hope stereotyping becomes tabu in the near future. Anyway, I’ll end this by saying I give up and I’m trimming my beard down to nothing!

  • I am a bearded architect for more than 5 years (bearded). And while looking for a picture I found out that I often wear a black Tshirt.

  • Himat

    Although I have been reading your blog for quite awhile, I just came across this post. Yes I was googling “bearded architects”! Amazingly like many other architectural commentary searches I do, you ranked number 1 in that search as well! Anyway, great work all around and as the self proclaimed, “longest beard in the history of the profession of architecture” (maybe the only recognition I will ever get in this profession!) I wholly endorse this article. As you will note, my beard is so long it is very tough to photograph…which also makes it impossible to know how long it really is for any challengers. Oh and for those worried about what their bosses will say should they decide to flow their follicle freedom…you are a creative. If you can’t freely express who you really are, time to consider another work environment.

    • so … exactly how long is your beard? You can’t leave us hanging!!

      • Himat

        Let’s put it this way, longer than Santa’s and H.H. Richardson’s!

  • Shane

    What about H. H. Richardson?

  • LOL Christmas bonus.. in this economy.. You are so funny 🙂

  • Tyler Adams

    Although I normally do sport a beard, I did this steesh for a charity event. To be honest, it just ended up frightening me when I looked in the mirror the next morning (this is an intentionally creepy fake myspace profile picture):

  • When I got out of the Army and entered architecture school I stopped shaving altogether, but it was more of a sissified goatee. It wasn’t until I had Sambo as a professor that I and many of my fellow Auburn Alum started sporting the “real” beards, I went back and fourth on the goatee look, but was never clean shaven. Now for the past 4 years it has been a closely cropped beard, and don’t see myself ever cutting it off. And to solidify that decision about a year ago I was trimming my beard, jacked it up a bit, so I shaved it down to a 5 o’clock shadow and my daughter wouldn’t talk to me for a week….

    SO, do real architects have beards? I like to think that Sambo would be proud of my career thusfar and since I consider him a “real” architect (like you) I am in good company.

  • Andrew Poeppel

    Bearded since 2010

  • TeenArchitectureGeek

    And of course, you can’t forget Hagrid- who says he didn’t build his own hut? Maybe that’s why it’s so lopsided.

  • Garry
  • I remember a study I read a while back that showed salary/hiring statistics as it related to facial hair and general appearance. Men with beards were paid less than their clean shaven counterparts, while – get this – men with only mustaches were paid the most. I guess if you’re gutsy enough to sport a ‘stache then you’re the type who’ll rake in the big bucks for your company. Now, handlebar or some other type…?

  • Anonymous

    Louis Sullivan!

  • missmissy

    I knew an architect who occasionally sported a beard, 5 o’clock, etc….but I it never seemed to stay around for too long, though I was a huge fan. If I had to guess, I’d guess it was messy feeling somehow…whether it be the food issue or visually unappealing or just the feeling of its itchiness growing all over.  But then I think, how often do I see beards around?  I don’t.  So, shrug, who knows?  Do doctors grow beards?  Do landscapers?  Who, as a demographic, grows beards besides people who chop down trees or are part werewolf?  We’re just not a bearded society anymore.

  • There are those among us who sport the mini beard. The “goatee” look. That seems to be common these days. I have a “goatee shadow.” I keep it pretty clean and short.

  • Scott, 

    I cannot speak for Architects, chiefly because I am not one… I had my 4 years of college (+ a victory lap semester for an extra football season), and I had had my fill of academia.  However, as professional within the construction industry, I find my beard (which I shaved into a mustache for Movember) provides a ruggedness better suited for a job site rather than inside a conference room, but, alas, I’m attempting that naive, young, business maverick thing, so I figure to whomever I may offend now with my face blanket will just have to suffer when reading my success novel 15 years down the road. 

    All the best,


  • This has made my day. Also, I’m not shaving tonight.

    • Scott Taylor

      Nor will I.

      • Verdecia

         Nor I!

  • Robert Zylstra

    I have been rocking the beard since college and I like to wear color.  You can check out this bearded architect at

    • Scott Taylor

      Dude, killer beard.  Do you have some Viking in your lineage?

      • Robert Zylstra

        Thanks Scott. Mostly Dutch, Italian, German, and a little Irish.  Even my director at the school of Architecture was thrown off by the beard. I was definitely a standout for many reasons and even changed his perception about Architects with Beards.

  • Always had a beard since college days….

    • that is admirable commitment! (there is a ship’s Admirable joke in there but I am going to pass this time)

  • A solid post and a heady beard! Like reading your voice on LoaA!

  • e

    love this article!

  • Phillip looks like he just posted bail.

    • it’s a grim look that’s for sure

      “will architect for peach ripple”

      • Robert Moore


  • Man… can you really right this post and not mention H.H. Richardson! 

    • Dear Polia

      I was going to post the same! H. H. Richardson, beard AND monk costume! Michelangelo & Bernini also had beards.

    • I mentioned HH to Scott the other night but this isn’t a list of all architects with beards.

      We try and keep things fresh (and apparently hairy) here at LoaA.

      • Understandable, just have to rep my homey from the 617.  

    • Scott Taylor

      I always thought that he was a sorcerer and that’s why i didn’t include him.  He will be included in my next post called “Beards of Sorcerers”…

  • My husband is going to love this…

  • carlos di napoli

    You forgot Alvaro Siza and Enric Miralles and Eduardo Souto de Moura !

  • Peter Zimowski

    Yay!! My beard can be grandfathered in!