So what exactly does an architect do all day? Chances are the answer is “a lot” and depending on the market sector in which they focus, probably something somewhat similar and somewhat unique compared to all the other architects out there working away. I thought I would put together a post that explained what I do and how I spend my time on any given day.
Of course, this was just one day … which happened to be Thursday, September 20, 2012.
The day started just like any other day, with me waking up at 6:00, groaning and generally wishing I didn’t have to go to work. This normally wears off by the time I have completed my shower but the likelihood that I am wishing I won the lottery at 6:01 is pretty high. I try to make it into the office early – normally before 7:15am because I have to leave at 5:00pm every day to pick my daughter up from school. I will admit that I get into work early because once I’m up, I’m ready to get busy … I don’t like sitting around (unless that’s the point because I’ve won the lottery.)
First thing I did when I got into the office was to review a proposal for a new project we are going after that has a fast turn-around. I met with the clients yesterday afternoon (Wednesday) and they were making a decision on who they were going to hire 36 hours later … and wanted my proposal by mid-day today.
Next up was some site plan sketches that needed to be prepared. We have a nice addition/ renovation project that I am working on and we have a client meeting tomorrow at 1:00pm. The various schemes are mostly complete but I need to put together some site plan drawings to show how the various schemes sit on the site. Nothing too tricky but I do get to pull out my Sharpie pens.
The exciting task of preparing meeting minutes for distribution. Preparing some sort of record of what was discussed, what was decided, and assigning action items is incredibly important and most residential architectural firms don’t bother. Although I will always acknowledge their value, there are fewer things that I hate doing more than preparing the meeting minutes.
All Day Long
Generic telephone shot because I am on the phone a lot and I didn’t feel like recording each time I had a phone call. In all, I had 27 separate phone calls today … I made 19 and received 8. None of which were from my wife [sad face] she’s more of a text person since she’s in more meetings than any other human being I’ve every known. Whenever I feel like I have a lot going on, she can always scoreboard me:
Bob: Whew! Today was cray-zee! I must have received 50 emails today … AND I had 4 meetings. How does anybody expect me to get any work done if all I ever do is meet and talk about how we are going to get the work done?
Michelle: I had 50 emails before I made it into the office and had 16 meetings today. I had 3 meetings scheduled for the same time … and went to them all.
Meeting with one of the partners to review the plans and the preliminary cost estimates for the project. This was a quick meeting, we basically discussed what the roles each of us would have in the meeting – I would present the design and he would present the costs.
More phone calls, checking on consultants, making sure that schedules will be met, and asking (a lot) “what can I do for you, is there anything you need from me?”
Lunchtime … except I won’t be eating lunch unless I get my errands completed quickly enough. I am currently starting a renovation project on my house (see the introductory post “Working on your own house sucks“) and I had to run out and pick up some door hardware that I have to get to the door manufacturer before they will actually start making my door… I’ll go into detail on that story another day.
The place where I picked up my hardware was TKO Associates and they have a showroom full of groovy things – one of which is this freestanding bath tub from Blu Bathworks. Normally I wouldn’t lie in a tub like this but I didn’t actually want my face in the picture (it’s looking a little doughy these days…)
playing researching in the TKO showroom and actually pick up my door hardware. Brushed Stainless Steel tubular handles from Baldwin (everybody seems to make this handle now). Now I have to drive over the Glasshouse – the people who are making this window/ door unit for me. (look at drawing #6) It is 6′-10″ high and 15′-6″ wide … should be awesome when it gets installed.
I have a meeting over at a client’s office to review and oversee a coordination meeting between the client and their IT / Security / Phone provider. This meeting is not too exciting simply because this isn’t part of my scope of responsibility – I am there simply because the client asked me to be there. Customer service is always the #1 priority so I put on a brave face and show up.
Back in the office and I am trying to work out some stair details (I hate detailing stairs – they are way more complicated than anybody who has never drawn them or built them realizes.) I designed this stair about a year ago but I wanted to adjust and supplement the details to make things as good as they could possibly be. The contractor is getting close to start the framing in this area and I don’t want to be caught with limited options because I didn’t plan ahead.
Leave the office so that I can pick my daughter up from school and start working on her homework. (not that I mean that I’m doing her homework but since she just started 3rd grade, I sit with her as she’s doing it.)
You know that proposal I reviewed this morning? The president of the company called me at home while I was going through spelling homework with my daughter. I didn’t recognize the number so against my regular judgment I answered the call. He told me that he had some questions about the proposal I submitted this morning.
The president informs me that they have decided to retain our firm for the project and that they are ready for us to start work immediately. Cool … nice way to end the work day.
The rest of the day – from 6:05pm to 11:00pm (when I generally go to sleep) is not related to what architects do … it’s what most grownups who have children do. I love being an architect but I have to carry my weight around the house (those bugs aren’t going to squish themselves.) I put this outline together and I fully expect any other architects who read it to shake their head and say to themselves “yeah, Tuesday was just like that for me.” Being an architect (for me) is a really engaging job and I love the fact that I am presented with a myriad of responsibilities and tasks to perform most days. The days of me coming into the office and drawing all day on one project are long gone – I juggle 5 or 6 most days now.
So how about it? What’s your day like?