Do all architects lead glamorous lives?

September 9, 2010 — 39 Comments

Liam Neeson in 'Love Actually'

I’m writing this post today because my husband is celebrating our 15th anniversary by jetting off to New York City for what sounds like a great trip visiting Brizo, meeting other architects, attending a fashion show, and no doubt having lots of cocktails.  Yes, that’s right, Bob’s going to New York on our 15th anniversary and I’m not invited.  Now I don’t really care about missing all the architecture stuff, but I’m flaming jealous about him seeing a fashion show in New York without me.  He doesn’t even care about fashion.    The last time he picked up a fashion magazine was, like, never.  And I looooooooooooooove clothes … it’s just not fair.  Why can’t I go to fashion week?  Maybe I need my own blog where I can get my opinion out and have suppliers want to woo me and take me on fantastic trips.  I really need to work on that.  But what would I write about?  I have an advanced degree in mathematics and I work in procurement.  Do you even know what procurement means???  I’m afraid that would only get me invited to some Star Trek convention and that isn’t really my style.  Ok, maybe it is my style, but for now let’s pretend it’s not.


Gary Cooper in 'The Fountainhead'

So, it made me wonder, ‘Do all architects lead glamorous lives?’.  You certainly would think so if you believed Hollywood.  Seems like every other movie or tv show has an architect as the lead character.  They always seem to be honest, hardworking, introspective, and extremely financially successful.  Oh, and sexy.  They always wear black and have stylish glasses.  A few actors that played architects in movies – Paul Newman, Keanu Reeves, Michael Keaton, Tom Hanks, Liam Neeson.  The list goes on and on; almost every big actor has played an architect once.  And yet none of these characters have a lifestyle anything like ours.  Tom Hanks lived on an awesome houseboat on Lake Washington in “Sleepless in Seattle”.  Have you priced one of those out lately?  If I tell anyone my husband is an architect, they all raise their eyebrows and instantly assume we are rich and have a glamorous house with awesome furniture; you know, like Tom Hanks.


Keanu Reeves in 'The Lake House'

So, this led me to my next question – ‘What is Bob doing wrong?’.  I mean, it MUST be his fault that our lifestyle isn’t one of glamour and money and fame.  It’s the stereotype so it must be right!  Why can’t we build ourselves a super modern house in an ultra-chic neighborhood with all the yuppie creative types?  Why doesn’t he wear black all the time and take me out on dates to fancy clubs wearing high fashion clothing while drinking fancy cocktails?  Where’s my houseboat and ultra modern weekend house?  WHY AREN’T WE RICH??????????????


Tom Hanks in 'Sleepless in Seattle'

And then it came to me.  Hollywood must be wrong. GASP!   I don’t want to believe it, but they must.  The harsh reality is that the majority of architects don’t make tons of money or live glamorous lives – at least the ones I know.  Sure, there may be the occasional trip to New York and fashion week, but that’s not the norm.  But, architecture is a truly noble profession within a very tight knit community.   The title ‘architect’  defines the person, not just the profession.  Not many others can say that.

So, all that being said, my 15 years with Bob haven’t been glamorous, but they’ve been great.  We have an amazing kid, two dogs, one cat, one goldfish, a rundown house with lots of ‘potential’, and lots of great memories of our 15 years together.  We’ve traveled all over the world and done some amazing things and have some fantastic stories to tell.  I’ll take that over glamour any day.  Happy Anniversary honey.  I love you.


Bob and Michelle – October 1992


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  • Archtect Bright

    As an Architecture student (that’s right, I’m dying for graduation yet I have two years left) and a son of an Architect, I can tell you that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with your life and your husband didn’t go wrong, my father is one Prestigious architect in our community, there’s absolutely no one in the city who doesn’t know at least one of his great projects or buildings, he raised good money, he’s well known but still, he’s not like Tom Hanks, movies only show you what you really want to see, I mean every year, there are thousands of architecture graduates around the world who are ready to take this difficult way of hard working and success, do you believe that these tens of thousands of people they all live like Tom Hanks ? I don’t.
    it was a nice piece to read thanks for sharing Michelle.

  • Darrell Allen Caraway

    I have a glamourous life. Sailboat, sports cars, oil painting, exotic drumming, singing and playing guitar, bohemian studio – ? I thought you were supposed to?

    • life of good – glad to hear you’re living the life of Reilly!

  • corten6

    thanks for sharing this, michelle. so true…from a fellow (female) architect.

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  • Craigpurcell

    Also Towering Inferno where the architect knows all.

  • R_moore

    Congratulations on your anniversary. Our 27th is tomorrow. I don’t get to fly to New York but I am going to watch Steve Martin (that wild and crazy guy) play the banjo in Brevard, NC.

    • hen_ka

      Steve Martin was an architect in one of his movies, too. Huge house, fancy car… so true-to-life.

      • Pablo

        That would be “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” – if I recall correctly.

  • architectrunnerguy

    Great musings but you forgot TV. Specifically, Mr. Brady of The Brady Bunch and Wilber Post of Mr. Ed.

    Mr. Brady had a live in maid which is pretty much the norm for architects (as well as the bright red kitchen countertops). But he did have a hard hat on in a few episodes while walking a vacant lot where a building was supposed to be built. I guess he was afraid of getting hit by bird…..

    And I can picture the producers of Mr. Ed now…..”Let’s see, we have a talking horse here so what profession should we make the owner so that seems at least marginally plausible. I know, AN ARCHITECT AND WE’LL PLACE HIS STUDIO IN THE BARN!!”. Perfect!!


    • Maybe this dates me (for once to my advantage) but I have never in my life seen an episode of Mr. Ed – although now that you mention that he was owned by an architect who kept his office in the barn (epic fail) I might have to look into that.

      Thanks Doug

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  • First, let me congratulate you for your family, I honestly can feel the love in the post! 🙂
    I’m an architect and glamour is far from my everyday life; although I can’t think on anything of glamour that could top my home with my wife and kid…
    I’m glad to read such a honest happiness of a family! Big grats! 🙂

    • Jose,

      Thanks for taking the time to say such nice things. Despite preconceived notions, finding happiness is being able to appreciate what you have, not want you want.

  • Rsimmons

    are u kidding? my suggestion to anyone that is thinking of starting a relationship with an architect – run. Its all about them and their craft. Architecture is their first and final love and they give two dimes about who else is around. That is – they will notice if that other person is there to support their “art.” And be damned the rest. Egotistical and usually poor as hell. Run.

    • your comment smells of a bad personal experience – sorry to “hear” that you didn’t find your architect to be all that and more. I’m pretty sure that my wife is happy with her decision to stay married to me (although I can’t guarantee it)

      • Darrell Allen Caraway

        relationships don’t come with insurance

    • I think you obviously found a bad one! Or maybe I’m just different 🙂
      But I agree about the money, it’s not quite as well paid as most people think.

    • Darrell Allen Caraway

      they have to in order to be successful

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  • 20×30

    I spend most of my time as an architect talking to the construction workers because their bosses can’t relate to the hands that do the work…. It takes a lot of time but we get things done that way in this part of a developing nation.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I loved reading it. It makes me want to continue doing architecture….

  • Kevin Eckert

    Wait a minute, I thought “Bob” was Keanu Reeves! I’ve been duped again….

  • Excellent post Michelle, you need your own blog. Or maybe you guys could alternate days. That sounds like an HGTV show. Never mind.

    I hope Bob’s made it up to you since he’s been back. Either that or he bought you something really expensive when he was in New York.

  • Great post. I love that movies think architect’s are awesome. I’m an architect married to an architect. Tonight she is going to a last minute black tie event without me. I know how you feel. Still, wouldn’t trade it for any other career.

    • Jeromy

      Dangit. That was supposed to be architects, not architect’s.

  • Michelle,

    I would read your blog, if you had one. You have done a great job in Bob’s absence.


  • Will

    very sweet post – but you forgot one! don’t forget indecent proposal where woody harrelson (architect) sells his wife to robert redford so they can build their dream home.

  • Hey Michelle: Bob is cuter than all of those guys too! Well, Liam has always been one of my faves. But I feel generous because you and your hubby are so Fab! I think Bob drank all the limo champagne in your honor. Does that cheer you up?
    Fun post too. I love reading your guestie posties. And if it’s true that you took that “lovely” pic of him doing the martial arts, screwed-up eyes maneuver, then we can all tell that you two are meant for another 70 years! Perfect match. Have a wonderful anniversary. Wear his clothes! Don’t tell him that you did.

  • Ha! In front of the table w/ the ubiquitous parallel bar, no less! Great smiles.

    Tom Hanks’ desk does look like the most realistic, I have to say, especially with the calculator in view. Clearly, Bob married you for your number skilz.

    And thanks for making me look up ‘procurement’.

  • Richard

    I think my wife could have wrote this blog. I keep running off to Montreal on business and she’s the one stuck at home on Vancouver Island. She’s also the one who loves Montreal because of the…You guessed it; fashion. I just like the coffee at the hotel! LOL Happy 15th to the two of you.

  • Denese Bottrell

    Michelle, congrats on a great article and 15 years! Bob better be careful, because you know how this blogging thing goes… readers rule… if we decide we like you better, it might very well be you jet-setting off next year! Or, you could always try commenting on your favorite designer’s blog while you’re at the controls… maybe, at the very least, they’ll send you some cool boots or something!:)

  • Linda

    Great post, and how adorable do you two look in that photo! But Hollywood may not ALWAYS get it wrong. Case in point: Mike Brady (“Here’s the story…of a lovely lady…”). I don’t think anybody would call living in a four-bedroom, three-bathroom tract house in the Valley with a spouse, six kids, a dog, and a live-in housekeeper the height of glamour. Although they did get to go to Hawaii that one time.

  • Great post Michelle … had me laughing beginning & middle and a tear in my eye towards the end. Great story … Happy Anniversary to you both!

  • I like Bob. He’s a good guy. But you’re obviously far too good for him. Call Liam or Keanu. Or Brad Pitt – he likes architecture. And if the adoptions are any indications, he’s crazy for procurement.

  • Hollie Holcombe

    Aww, what a great post. Thank you! I feel less of a dunce as an architect now. And you guys were SO CUTE in 1992. Happy Anniversary.

  • Love the post, as usual and found myself laughing knowingly through most of it (especially the part about trying to figure out what’s wrong with Bob). Maybe you could secretly hire a babysitter, fly up to NY, and at least see the fashion show, right? *wink wink*

    Seriously, I love how you bring it back down to a real level and pull the over dramatized Hollywood role out of it. It is a career that allows the architect and project to meld together and creation begins. I love it.