Theory Meets Reality

It’s inevitable. The question always rolls around. In conversations, it is normal to try to get an understanding of who people are and what they do for a living. So, the question arises and is something like, “So, what do you do for a living?”

Before I was licensed, it was hard to exactly describe, since it is illegal for a non-licensed person to call him or herself an ‘Architect’ or even anything that is confusingly similar to the term. So, I would settle for ‘Designer’, all the while feeling kind of bewildered that in the State’s desire to protect the profession, regardless of the thousands of IT professionals who also call themselves, “Architects,” I am left in a quandary as to how I can describe to people what I do in casual conversation. My wife Stacey and I arrived at a really neat description, “Turning Dreams into Reality”- but does it really capture the idea of the hard work that goes into architecture?

Having my license makes it much easier. Therefore, when I tell people I am an architect, there is a mix of typical reactions. Sometimes, they’ll exclaim, “How Cool!” or something to that effect. No problems… they know what I am talking about. But then, there are others who, due to one reason or another, don’t know what an Architect is or does. Responses range from smiles to blank stares. They have heard the term before, but it just doesn’t register with them. Then, there are those who are in-between – they know generally that an architect has something to do with making buildings and must be smart in math (of which they also say things like, “I wanted to be an architect, but I couldn’t handle the math”).

So, I want to lend a bit of knowledge so that you may be able to understand what an architect does. And, for those of us who may lean toward the ‘blank stare’ side of the equation, here are a few pointers:

What is an Architect?
An Architect is a person who has been granted the privilege and responsibility by a governing body, e.g., the California Architecture Board, to practice Architecture within that state.
To expand, the Architect has to undergo a long process of education, professional experience, and verification (or testing) of one’s skills and abilities. This process requires that the Architect demonstrate a level of competency so that the public Health, Safety, and Welfare is maintained for the people of the State who will be affected by the building.

What is the ‘Practice of Architecture’?
“…Offering or performing, or being in responsible control of, professional services which require the skills of an architect in the planning of sites, and the design, in whole or in part, of buildings, or groups of buildings and structures.”
To expand this a bit, when an architect advertises, he is practicing architecture. He is also practicing architecture when he does more of the architecturally traditional things such as designing and drawing buildings an indicating where they should go on the site.
Now that I have answered some of your questions, I’ll take a turn.

Have you ever had to answer any of these questions?

  • How can I radically cut my utilities expenses?
  • Is my building permitted?
  • Is it structurally sound?
  • Can the land I want to buy support the function that I want it to?
  • What potential does a building site have to be developed?
  • Do we have enough space for my furniture, this machinery or piece of equipment?
  • Why is it that my house looks so strange and others’ houses look cool or interesting?
  • Can I legally add this building next to the fence in my yard?
  • My room looks too large / confined… what can I do to try to shrink / expand the size with the least amount of cash spent that is possible?
  • My building stands out like a sore thumb… how can I minimize it’s impact?
  • My building doesn’t stand out enough. How can I make my building more visible?
  • How can I cut down on the noise in this room?
  • Or try to do these things: Make a building or room look more pleasing to be in? Make my room or building be more ‘green’ or ‘earth friendly’, start a new chain of restaurants, make the building more user friendly, make the building more friendly and helpful to elderly people.

If so, an Architect can assist you by investigating matters surrounding any evaluation or consultation needs you may have about your built space.
And, using advanced software like Revit, a building information modeling tool, a whole new horizon of opportunities opens for the person wanting to create a specific orientation of the building toward the sun while being able to assist in how much energy will be used.
But, when you get down to it, my job as your architect is to make you more successful. I love designing. I love helping people transform their dreams into reality in special ways.

At Grizzly Bear Architecture and Design, we enjoy our work and work to meet the needs of our clients. The best way to describe what we do is ‘Modern Day Fairy Tales’ – working to turn dreams into reality, using creative, innovative, relevant, one of a kind, hard to find architecture and design.

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