Looking back on it, I'm really not sure why I decided to become an architect.
I never knew an architect growing up. I didn't know who Frank Lloyd Wright was until I was in college, enrolled in my first architecture class. I was too young to have watched the Brady Bunch. The show How I Met Your Mother had not yet been invented.
Come to think of it...the closest thing to an architect I knew was George Costanza!
Honestly, I really knew nothing about architecture until I was in college at the University of Maryland. I was originally a computer science major when I began my freshman year. That lasted about 3 months. I was taking a C+ computer programming class and I was struggling to get a D+.
I hated Computer Science.
So I dropped it. After 1 semester.
It didn't take much time before I decided that architecture would be my next major. I figured that I had some talent at drawing and I was good at math. Architecture it is! Looking back on it, I made a pretty quick decision without really knowing anything about being an architect. Or more importantly, I didn't know how much of a pain in the ass it would be to become an architect.
I knew that architects designed buildings and created blue prints. This was 1999 and I'm pretty sure blue prints were extinct by then.
The point is...I knew nothing.
Drawing + Math = Architecture
And that's it. That is my origin story. I know....It's sad.
A time for Reflection.
For some reason I have been thinking a lot lately about why I became an architect. Writing this blog has made me much more reflective about what I do. I wonder about my choice because I made it pretty quickly without much vetting.
And that's not like me. I am pretty thorough with big decisions. The other day I was purchasing clothing hangers on Amazon.com and I read several reviews before making my $9.99 purchase.
Fortunately, my architectural leap of faith has paid dividends.
I love being an architect and I could not imagine doing anything else. And that is why my leap of faith is so interesting to me. It kinda happened by chance and I really lucked out.
But there must be more to this story. Certainly something must have peaked my interest?
There is one possible catalyst.
One thing I do remember about my pre-architecture life is that I always had an interest in seeing things get built. I grew up in a rural area, so there really wasn't much development. But I do recall car rides through suburban areas and the occasional visit to Washington DC where I did witness buildings getting built. It wasn't the bull dozers, cranes and men at work that fascinated me. It was returning days later and seeing progress being made over time.
I don't remember when this fascination began, but seeing construction has always been an interest.
Steve Ramos: Baby Architect
For the first several years of my career in architecture, I did not see anything get built. At Michael Graves and Associates I worked on big projects in far-flung places. Egypt, Singapore and Switzerland to name a few. Since I was a green intern and had only been there for 18 months, they definitely weren't going to be sending me to the Nile to do construction administration.
My first couple of years at LS3P were during the recession so projects under construction were pretty scarce. But there were some, however my roles on the projects were limited so I didn't feel much ownership over the finished product. Nonetheless, I very much enjoyed shadowing our construction administration architects on site visits.
Steve Ramos: Toddler Architect
Right around year 5 of my career I began to see projects in which I started getting larger design opportunities and began to take some real ownership in my projects. And a few of those buildings got built. I'm going to tell the story of my first project in a future #ArchiTalks post. TBD
Seeing your work get built is a very rewarding thing for an architect. I would even call it a major milestone for an architect.
It's pretty amazing.
It's powerful stuff man!
Once upon a time I wrote a post called I like to make and create. I talked about the thrill I get out of making all different types of things.....paintings, architecture and compilation cds.
Making buildings is definitely at the top of that list. Witnessing a building grow out of the dirt is just awesome.
And have you seen how big buildings are? And I'm not talking about buildings for ants.
I'm talking buildings for people. Full size people. And lots of em!
I like using the term powerful because I can't think of something more descriptive. Creating a drawing on a sheet of paper that fits on your desk and then seeing that drawing constructed at full scale just blows my mind.
And then on a building's grand opening when the project is turned over to a happy client....that's it. Home run.
The images I have been showing in this post are the construction progress of the Tides IV Condominium Project in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. The project contains 54 luxury condominiums with some of the best views in Charleston. It is soon to be the premier condo development in South Carolina.
Tides IV is a 7 story building over 1 level of subterranean parking. It tops out at 80 feet and in Mt. Pleasant....80 feet...that's a skyscraper.
Even so. It grew out of small pieces of trace paper that fit on the desks of my colleagues and myself.