153 episodes

A gifted storyteller communicating the role and value of architecture to a new audience, host Bob Borson uses the experiences acquired over a 25-year career to inform his podcast.



A small firm owner, architect, and college design instructor, co-host Andrew Hawkins brings his insight from his 20 years in various roles within the profession.



It responds to the public curiosity and common misunderstanding about what architects do and how it is relevant to people’s lives, engaging a wide demographic of people in a meaningful way without requiring an understanding of the jargon or knowledge of the history of the profession.



With a creative mix of humor and practicality, Borson’s stories are informative, engaging, and approachable, using first-person narratives and anecdotes that have introduced transparency into what it really means to be a practicing architect.



To learn more about Bob, Andrew, and what life is like as an architect, please visit Lifeofanarchitect.com

Life of an Architect Bob Borson and Andrew Hawkins

    • Arts
    • 4.8 • 298 Ratings

A gifted storyteller communicating the role and value of architecture to a new audience, host Bob Borson uses the experiences acquired over a 25-year career to inform his podcast.



A small firm owner, architect, and college design instructor, co-host Andrew Hawkins brings his insight from his 20 years in various roles within the profession.



It responds to the public curiosity and common misunderstanding about what architects do and how it is relevant to people’s lives, engaging a wide demographic of people in a meaningful way without requiring an understanding of the jargon or knowledge of the history of the profession.



With a creative mix of humor and practicality, Borson’s stories are informative, engaging, and approachable, using first-person narratives and anecdotes that have introduced transparency into what it really means to be a practicing architect.



To learn more about Bob, Andrew, and what life is like as an architect, please visit Lifeofanarchitect.com

    Inspiration

    Inspiration

    Inspiration can come from many different sources - but can you actively seek it out when you are feeling like you are in a dry spell?

    • 1 hr 8 min
    Starting a New Job

    Starting a New Job

    When you are starting a new job, even you very first job, here are some tips that might make the transition a bit easier and potentially, more fruitful.

    Starting a Business

    Starting a Business

    We are finally conceding to a request that’s been made a thousand times – do an episode on starting an architectural business – a topic that I have resisted for essentially 6 years, and I think I’ve finally broken. This is not as easy of a topic to discuss as you might think because there are a million different ways you could answer a question this broad. In an attempt to make this conversation of value, we are going to start at the beginning, and we are going to eat this whale one bit at a time. Welcome to EP 151: Starting a Business



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    Starting at the Beginning jump to 1:36



    Business plans are not that difficult to prepare, and when created properly, they can be used as a guide to help make long term decisions on to best set up you new firm. Since we are going to go about today's conversation at the beginning, we are going to adopt the strategy of "eating this whale one bite at a time".







    Student Example Business Plan from Andrew's class



    Executive Strategy jump to 4:40

    The first thing to do is to take some time to figure out exactly who you are, and more importantly, who you want to be - which means creating an overview of your firm, its mission, and goals. For me, the most important part of this process is to focus on your goals. This can mean a handful of different things, (type of work, geographic location, size of your new firm, how much money do you want to make, etc.) but how you decide to answer this question will fundamentally guide your behavior in the beginning



    Summary of services offered and target market jump to 7:12

    This should be an easy one for most people to figure out. What type of work will you be providing and who will you be providing it for? Let’s say you want to start a residential architecture firm. Will you be focusing on developers, builders or end users as your client base (maybe all three?) Will you be designing new houses, additions renovations, full documentation or something at a reduced capacity (i.e. “Builder set”?) Maybe you think you will simply be taking on whatever you can and for whomever – which is a reality for most people starting out in a residential firm but you still need to have some sort of understanding at what level of service and documentation each of these user bases will require and how to establish an appropriate fee for each one (which is probably the most asked question I get on this topic).



    For the record, there is no canned ready-to-serve answer to this question due to the number considerations that fall into place.



    Firm Description jump to 11:10

    History of the firm (if any if it is a modification of an existing firm) and its partners. This is exactly what you think it is and might be the easiest thing about creating a business plan. The purpose of this section is to really demonstrate competency to the people you want as clients. This is really a personal history of the individuals that make up the firm (which could be one) but it explains how and why you ventured out to create this firm.



    Develop a Vision and Mission Statement jump to 12:40

    I am not a big fan typically of mission statements, mostly because I don’t think people use them properly. A mission statement is typically used to clarify what business you are in, focus your goals, and identify your business objectives. They should be internal vision statements to help guide the decision making process not some pandering message shared with the public espousing things you should be doing anyway (like providing excellent service, providing solutions, or any sort of “listening to your clients”)



    I wrote a post on Mission Statements back in 2014 (https://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/mission-statements/) and my thoughts on the matt...

    • 1 hr 19 min
    Drawing Stuff

    Drawing Stuff

    So here we are ... Episode 150, and I am a little surprised that I made it this far into this Life of an Architect experiment, but due to the support and interest we have received over the last 6 years, we find ourselves as what I believe to be a fairly significant milestone. When it came time to pick today’s subject matter, there was really on one topic that was up for consideration … Welcome to EP 150: Drawing Stuff!



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    Today we are going to be talking about "drawing stuff", and if you are wondering what that really means, you are in the right place because that’s what Andrew and I are going to try and figure out. There are all sorts of examples and references in today's post so this is a good post to earmark for future reference (if you're into that sort of thing).











    Life of an Architect and Drawing Stuff jump to 01:00



    When I say “drawing stuff” to you, what comes to mind? Do you think there is some relevance to the fact that the question is framed because I said “drawing” and not “drafting”? I will confess that there is a difference for some, but not for me. I make drawings. I can draft them, I can sketch them, I can get on a computer and use software like Revit (well, I can’t use Revit), AutoCAD, or whatever your drafting software of choice might be. Drawing stuff can mean anything and in any software - I am just referring to visual communication and how we think and talk through ideas. I'd like to say that I don't think there is a wrong way to draw stuff - but we all know that's not true. Sketching, drafting, 3dmodeling, rendering, I've talked about all of it at one time or another but there are some particular moments that stand out for me ...



    Notable Blog Posts for "Drawing Stuff"  08:47



    https://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/do-architects-draw-too-much/



    It wasn’t that long ago that I could produce construction drawings for a 6-figure residential project in little more than a dozen sheets of drawings. The last one I worked on was quite a bit more as the architectural set having around 45 sheets to it. That is a 400% increase within the last 20-years. Once I add in the structural drawings, grading and drainage drawings, as well as the dedicated HVAC drawings, we will approach 60+ sheets in this set.



    What is going on? What is the reason for all the increased drawings? Is it the complexity of the projects? Maybe it’s because architects anticipate a contentious relationship with contractors? Maybe it’s the overly-specific design intentions that architects are wanting in our projects and we know that we can’t expect the contractor to read our minds?!? This entire post was a bit of a rant because things are starting to feel as if some residential contractors are punishing those of us that produce drawings that tell them how we want things done - that this makes us appear difficult and fussy when the exact opposite is the goal.







    https://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/design-process-redlines/



    I might not always be a nice person and I like to complain as much as the next person but if there is one trait someone who visits this site with any regularity knows, I do like to be helpful. During the design process, this typically manifests itself as “redlines”.  For those of you that may not be familiar, redlines are typically created when architects make editorial notes on a set of drawings to convey changes that are needed to be made. This process typically occurs during the construction drawings phase, but I find that they are more helpful for how I like to work during the design development phase of the projects.

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Moonlighting

    Moonlighting

    This will be the 5th time in 5,209 days that I have put my opinions about taking on extra work outside of your normal job and typically during ridiculous hours of the day and night. This practice has come to be known as “moonlighting” and depending on your age and where you are at in your career, it is either the light at the end of the tunnel or an oncoming train. Andrew and I originally had something else scheduled for today’s show but this topic has been forcing itself into my brain over the past month or so and I want to talk about it . Welcome to EP 149: Moonlighting.



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    Today we are going to be talking about moonlighting. I mentioned in the opening that in some capacity, I have brought this topic up for discussion 5 times over the past 14 years but it has never been the focus of a dedicated podcast episode. Is that irony?







    answer are from a poll I presented on my Instagram account with an average of 1,200 responses per question



    Fun Facts jump to 01:52



    The etymology of the word “moonlight” as a verb, "hold a second job, especially at night," and this version or use came into use in 1957 (implied in the verbal noun moonlighting), from moonlighter "one who takes a second job after hours" (1954), from the notion of working by the light of the moon. Earlier the verb had been used to mean "commit crimes at night" (1882), from moonlighter in reference to members of organized bands that carried on agrarian outrages in Ireland.



    Did you know there was a phrase called “sunlighting” which is in obvious contrast to the word “moonlighting? “Sunlighting,” as the term indicates, is work done outside the company—but with complete transparency and within the boundaries of what is allowed by professional ethics and individual conscience. sunlighting is considered ethical because it is done transparently after work hours and does not conflict with the employee's obligations to their primary employer.



    The names suggest that moonlighting is done after hours and without the knowledge and consent of your employer while sunlighting is doing essentially the same thing with full disclosure and the approval of your employer.











    Experience with Moonlighting jump to 8:39



    Andrew and I have both taken on moonlighting jobs in the past, and since I don't really want to speak for Andrew, I will admit that my experiences fall into both the moonlighting  AND sunlighting categories. I've also had both positive AND negative experiences. One of the things I tried hard to convey in today's episode is that I can see both sides of the argument of why moonlighting takes place, it's value to the individuals, and the benefits that can happen as a result of the extra experience and, and lets be completely blunt about this, the extra money. I bought my first house with moonlighting money ... and the client on that job also stiffed me on my completely reasonable  bill (I worked without asking for immediate payment for services rendered until the business was up and running and to this date, almost 30 years later, they have never paid me ... I should let it go but it provides an extremely valuable life lesson).











    Side Effects of Moonlighting jump to 15:58



    Originally this was going to be a list of pros and cons, but the pro list was short and incredibly easy to identify. Our conversation on the cons was really about the ramifications - or side effects - or taking on moonlighting work. Without any real effort, the first things that came to mind are:





    Exhaustion

    Burnout

    Decreased productivity

    • 1 hr 4 min
    Meetings are a Waste of Time

    Meetings are a Waste of Time

    You check the time and realize that you have 4 minutes before your next meeting. Maybe it’s an internal meeting, maybe clients are coming in. Is it in person or online? Depending on how you answer those questions, time to start scrambling so that you are where you need to be and have the information required to make this meeting a good use of your time. But guess what? I promise that you will end up waiting on someone … maybe you are that someone. Either way, you aren’t getting that time back and you haven’t even started yet. Welcome to EP 148: Meetings are a Waste of Time



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    I wrote a post on this topic 11 years ago – and it was also titled “Meetings are a Waste of time.” When I wrote this down as a topic, it wasn’t because I had already covered this topic a decade ago, it was because I had forgotten that I had covered it and I most likely had just come out of a meeting that I felt was an unproductive waste of time. Is this going to be a crabby podcast episode? It’s entirely possible, but you can hit the pause button, go grab a beer, and then restart the show because I feel like most people feel like I do when it comes to the majority of meetings they attend.



    I am becoming more and more sensitive to sitting in meetings where I think:



    What am I doing in this meeting?



    You already said that, move on …



    What does that have to do with what we are supposed to be talking about?



    I went back to reread that post from 2013 and as I went through the points, I typically thought to myself “Nailed It” but things are a little different for me now and shockingly, I thought I was in a lot of meetings before, I am in ten times that number now. It’s not even close!



    A couple of caveats to consider:



    There is a huge difference between professional environment meetings and volunteer organization meetings, Meetings with Clients, and internal meetings. Along with those distinctions comes a slightly different pain threshold for what is acceptable behavior or not. While I would like volunteer meetings to be run with the same efficiency, I have to acknowledge that these are "volunteer" based meetings and if the people attending have to do something as part of their real jobs, I am not going to get in their way.



    Probably 50% of the time I spend in meetings isn’t scheduled. My office (air quotes) is pretty open and it lends itself to pop-in meetings – which was purposeful at the time of design. Exactly what is supposed to happen DOES in fact happen, but it does become disruptive to developing any sort of rhythm to the creative process.



    Client meetings generally fall outside of the requirements I considered, unless I am the one who is slowing things down – which does happen. I wrote in the 2013 post the following:



    “At least half of the meetings I attend, nothing is really happening other than the swapping of stories. One on hand, that’s okay because I’m the Pecos Bill of stories, but I simply don’t have the time for it anymore.”



    So in an effort to reclaim some lost time, here are some tips I have collected and follow to help make sure that my days don’t get longer by sitting in unnecessary or gratuitous meetings.











    Start your meetings on time jump to 17:39

    If someone is late, that’s their problem. Don’t review information that’s already been covered. I make it an effort to be on time to meetings and it drives me insane when someone else is late and I have to just sit there waiting on them. Not only a waste of time, it’s disrespectful – it says “my time is more important than yours”.

    • 1 hr 10 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
298 Ratings

298 Ratings

banjo&fiddle ,

A lot of fun

As a mid fifties architect and principal in a small firm this podcast has been very fun and thought provoking. Id never heard of Bob or the show before he came to my local Aia meeting for a presentation and I’ve been hooked ever since. My wife really enjoys some of the shows I’ve shared with her even though she is in the tech industry because some of the ideas of the work, process and life are very similar.

Jonny Texan ,

Modivated to continue

2 years ago I was losing motivation toward my skill in designing and thought about doing something different til I stumbled upon this podcast I checked mr bob’s work on IG and since then I started to follow him and listen to his podcast’s, great work!

Stevenbrando ,

Best architectural podcast. one criticism:

Isolating two host voices on two separate audio tracks makes it irritating to listen to with headphones. Stereophonic hearing is really important to comprehension, so hearing one person in one ear and one voice in the other ear hinders comprehension.

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