How to become a partner in only 21 years

June 17, 2013 — 53 Comments

It only took 21 years but I finally made it –

Architect Bob Borson contact information

This week I will be heading off to Denver to attend the 2013 American Institute of Architects National Convention. It will be the only break I have between leaving my last job and starting my new on this coming Monday. I have accepted a position as Principal with Michael Malone Architects – a firm I first worked at 21 years ago. In fact, it was my first job coming out of school in 1992 … talk about not burning any bridges.

If you want to check out the new firms projects, head on over to the website

Michael and I go way back, all the way back to the beginning. He was my first employer and I was his first employee – my first day on the job was moving him out of his house and into some temporary offices. I was 24 years old and he was 34 – and what we both lacked in experience we more than made up for with effort and enthusiasm. Even though things have changed significantly for both of us, I am expecting that a lot of that old chemistry is still in place, just measured with a bit more knowledge and patience (and in Michael’s case, Icy-Hot patches).

The work we do is very similar to the type of work I’ve been doing for the last 11 years – we have a nice balance of residential, commercial and retail work. And now that I am a Principal, I can take on whatever projects I want.

And it only took 21 years to get exactly what I wanted.


Bob signature

ps – if you are going to be at the National Convention, send me an email. We are going to get everyone together Wednesday night.



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  • alec sithong

    Congrats Bob! Love your website – very creative and humorous. Best wishes with your new venture.

  • archiwiz

    Congratulations Bob! You’re making it very easy for us to keep looking up to you. 🙂

    • Thanks – I hope to maintain the momentum.


  • Courtney Price

    Congrats Bob!!

  • Russell Higgins RA

    21 Years, not so bad to be where you WANT to be.
    I know a couple of people who ended up partners at firms they left and came back to.
    I’d like to second, for business reasons, prefering to work ‘with others’ than on own.
    Our profession struggles under burdens few businesses do, liability and losing sub – markets to unlicensed providers, marketing and insurance costs are others. Single and small practicioners cannot create the necessary profit, actually surplus profit, needed to lobby for better laws regarding our profession, and have to devote out size proportions of fees to overheads of all sorts. Size is how every business suceeds. It allows overhead to become a reasonable percentage of work. It allows the money, and partner level time needed to change the industry and the business environment, (laws), we work in. Architects will always be hobbled as a profession until we all realize this and alter our behavior (ego) and aggregate our businesses.
    Great site!

    • Great points Russell – I hope that my long standing relationship with Michael will limit the possible risk with moving over to join the firm.

  • NubianCzar

    Congrats Bob, I wanna be like you when I “grow up” 🙂

    All the best on the new “old” path. Better things lying ahead…


    • well … I suppose there are worse things that could happen to you. I appreciate your support.


  • Kristi

    Congratulations :)!

  • Kathy

    Congrats, Bob! After taking a spin through MMA’s portfolio, I’m really looking forward to what’s next. Enjoy your last few days off!

  • Guest

    Congrats, Bob! I look forward to seeing what’s next. Enjoy your time off!

  • Marc Moura

    congratulations Bob, I was worried that you might have gone the large global firm path!!!!!

  • Mark Mc Swain

    You made me google–the only office still extant/open/dba would be FLM, and that’s stretching things, as they were still Foster+Meier and over in the (then) LTV building at 1600 Elm . . .

  • “Herzlichen Glückwunsch” from Germany!

    • “danke – ich schätze, dass!” from Dallas!

      • Mark Mc Swain

        Aci, so können wir hier Deutsch sprechen?
        Schoenes, sehr schoenes.

        • Ich erinnere mich nicht viel von meinem deutschen Klassen in der High School – in diesen Tagen ist es vor allem, “wie viel für Ihre größte Bier?”

          • Mark Mc Swain

            (There’s an REK concert gag in there )
            The essential foreign language sampler:
            Bier jetzt dienen?
            Ja, ich will ein Bier zu trinken.
            Bitte, Ein mehr bier.
            Wo die männliche Toilette?

            Find out if they serve beer
            Ask for a beer.
            Be able to ask for one more.
            Be able to ask where the WC is.

            After those four, the locals will help you cope with most everything else.
            I can fade those four in Herman, French, Spanish, Acadiene; Itallian (with a bad accent); Duth (with a worse accent); and half of that in Japanese and Russian.
            I r an Wurld trayvler

  • Andrew Mikhael

    Congratulations! I am a fan of his book. See you in Denver.

    • Thanks – looking forward to it.


  • Marcia Kellogg

    Congratulations and best wishes on your new endeavor!

  • Alexandra Williams

    Congrats. Who wouldn’t want to partner with you?

    • I can think of two people ….

      Thanks for all you do – you are one of the originals

      • Alexandra Williams

        Yesssss. Always wanted to be an OG!

  • Collin Zalesak

    Congratulations Mr. Bob Borson. You did it!
    I had the privialiage to go tour his office at one point last year with my design studio at Texas Tech. He took us around to check out a few of the houses he had designed.
    Great opportunity for you! Hope the transition goes well!

  • Mikheil

    Congratulations! Actually I have book by Michael Malone – “The Architect’s guide to Residential Design”, very nice book.

  • Lee Borrero

    Congratulations BB.

  • Julie Howard

    Bravo Bob! Proud of ya!! Que le meilleur!!!

  • Cam

    Congrats Bob! Here’s to the new adventure =)

    • Thanks Cam – I appreciate you taking the time to write something


  • derek

    Congrats!! did you finish architecture school at 34? wow!

  • Nancy Honchen

    Congrats and good luck with the new job!

    • Thanks Nancy – I am looking forward to a new set of challenges


  • Diego Bortolato Architetto

    Congrats and good luck. It sound so different from here in Italy, that drive me happy for you, enthusiast for the opportunity around the world, and sad for the backwardness of our field in my, by now, backward country…

    • I appreciate the support – although, based on what I see in your Instagram feed, you look like you are enjoying life. Thanks for being there for so long.

      • Diego Bortolato Architetto

        my work is my passion… but fortunately there is also food, enough country space and my fantastic bike… 🙂 (I don’t want to talk about girls… 😉

  • bubbaofthebubbles

    aaahhhh: He of the thoughtful “The Architect’s Guide to Residential Design”. Congrats and great success!

    • Did you see that I got a shout-out in that book? I even worked on the Brandt Residence. Like I said, this is an industry where it pays to keep everything professional, you’ll eventually know everybody.


  • Roxanne Button

    Congratulations, Bob! It also took me 21 years to become a partner…but I had to start the firm to do it 😉

    Best wishes in your new (old) firm.

    • Ha – I was wondering if I could be considered a “founding” partner” since I was there at the beginning …

      I think most people would have started their own firm by now if they were me, except I don’t like working by myself, I am far too social to spend the bulk of my day with only myself for company (I would drive me crazy)

      • Juliana Inman

        I know what you mean. I started my solo office 24 years ago and still miss having colleagues!

  • Chris

    Congratulations! Enjoy your new position!

  • Robert Moore

    Good luck with the new position. I’m sure you’ll do well!

    • I appreciate the support and vote of confidence. I will continue the tales here so everyone can participate on the journey – let’s hope it is a successful one.


  • Kyle

    congrats and good luck. Shows that patients has its reward