Inside the Minds of Our Architects

It's no secret that young architects have big dreams. It's also no secret that the responsibility to nurture those who reach for their goals falls upon us as professionals. In many ways, the next generation of community-conscious, sustainability-minded architects is already here, graduating from college as we speak.

While we won't be able to meet the majority of young minds who find value in our experiences below, we believe it's important to write down and share our architectural origins, brightest inspirations, and advice to new graduates as National Architecture Week 2014 comes to a close.


Do You Have a Favorite Architect or Building?

Jim Draheim - Fairfax, VA

Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, a Welsh architect who lived a long life across the 19th and 20th centuries, could arguably be considered one of the last romantics. He was generations ahead of his peers in adaptive reuse, exhibited in his design of the Italianate village of Portmeirion in North Wales. Regularly visited by celebrities throughout the 1950s as a unique filming location, Portmeirion was constructed with architectural artifacts at a time when modern architecture was taking hold over the West. Williams-Ellis salvaged numerous structures and structural elements from the 18th and 19th centuries from landfills long before it was trendy to value architectural heritage. This allowed him to experiment with perspective, depth, color, and materials in a way that deliberately surprises visitors around every corner.

Why Did You Choose to Become an Architect?

Melissa Bennett - Boston, MA

I chose the architecture profession early! I grew up in the country and was really into horseback riding. When I was about eight years old I started drawing floor plans of the ideal stable, dutifully following the British Pony Club handbook. My parents fed my interest in building design through "field trips" to various cities. I realized I was a good artist in middle school, but it wasn't until I took a graphic drawing class that my fascination with the built world really took off. It started with an interest in order and clarity, but quickly expanded to a desire to provide experiential environments for living, working, and playing.

Doug Pfeiffer - Elgin, IL

I grew up in a small city whose buildings told a story of a once prosperous past that had been left to deteriorate. The city felt unplanned, uninspired, and lacking in opportunity. It was a city without a future for me, but one that I loved as my home and wanted the tools to change. Architecture gave me the ability to not just imagine better buildings and better cities, but design them. My passion for the arts, natural analytical thinking ability, and desire to get my hands dirty could only have found a home in the study of architecture.

What Advice Would You Give Graduates Entering the Marketplace?

Jim Beight - Fairfax, VA

Architecture is a challenging and highly competitive profession, one that requires excellence to be successful. The opportunities in this profession are very broad, and require an equally broad set of skills. Figure out what you want from your architectural career, and focus on the specific skills needed to realize those goals. If you find yourself in a place that supports those goals, you've found a place worth staying at. Understand what ignites your passion for architecture and use it to motivate yourself every day.

  • Jim Draheim
    Jim Draheim
  • Jim Beight
    Jim Beight
  • Doug Pfeiffer
    Doug Pfeiffer
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