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10 Classic Misconceptions of Architects

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When you think of an architect, what is the first thing that comes to mind? We bet it is one of these top ten classic misconceptions that we have compiled below. While every profession contains certain stereotypes (and some may be valid), architects tend to be right up there with engineers when it comes to misconstrued notions.

Look at our list of ten classic misconceptions of architects to see if any are ones you hold, and perhaps consider if these are truly valid ideas or are they are myths that need to be debunked?

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1) Architecture Is For Men

There are so many misconceptions of architects, but perhaps this is the first one that should be debunked. While it is true that architecture is a male-dominated field, it is not true that it is a career solely for men.

Great female architects are finally getting their due attention with female architects such as Teresa Borsuk receiving the 2015 Woman Architect of the Year award.  Women certainly have a place in this field of design.

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 2) Architects Are Wealthy

Sadly, this is not true. Despite the years of hardwork in school, all of their studies do not pay off in the sense of the bank balance. Despite the mainstream thought, architects are not paid like doctors, they earn a good income, but not one that will make them wealthy.

The median annual wage in 2013 was $74, 110 USD, with the top 10% earning $119,370 USD annually, and the bottom 10% earning $44, 930 USD annually. As you can see, you will certainly not be poor, but you won’t be wealthy either.

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 3) Architects Are Builders

Architects use tools but not hammers. Architects design the buildings, they do not build them. Their designs and blueprints are passed off to the builders/developers who then bring the design to fruition.

Yes, this requires a close relationship between the architects and the builders, but the final structure is created by the developer/builder. Should we mention the salary of a developer? No, that might depress the architects reading this.

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 4) Architects Are James Bond Cool

While many architects don’t want us to debunk this classic misconception—everyone wants to be sleek and cool like James Bond—but architects are not the eccentric, cool, cigar smoking characters that the general public has envisioned them to be.

Sorry, they are just average people like the rest of us, sitting at desks (perhaps in a cubicle), hunched over computers, and usually working on the minute details of a project.

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 5) Architects Are Introverts

Wrong! Architects can’t afford to be introverts—their design ideas would never leap from blueprint to reality if they were quiet and shy.

In order to have their designs accepted and taken seriously, and to have the builders follow their designs—architects must be loud and proud.  A shy architect will struggle in this field since the job relies heavily on communication skills with clients, designers, builders, contractors, public etc…

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 6) It Is A Glamorous Job

Becoming the next Frank Lloyd Wright seems glamorous, right? Yes, it must have been glamorous to be a famous architect who created some of the most ingenious structures, but this is not the reality for the everyday architect.

Most architects are busy working out the details; meeting city officials; trying to leap through bureaucratic red tape; dealing with building codes; constrained by a client’s budget, or visiting contractor sites—nothing about these tasks is glamorous. While some architects do have the chance to travel, it is not as common as some may think.

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 7) Architects Are Creative Artists

While many architects entering school think they need amazingly creative artistic skills—it is simply not a job requirement. Architects do need to be creative problem solvers, but they don’t need the skills of Picasso.

In fact, a lot of their work involves basic geometry skills which are by no means creative. And Computer Aided Design (CAD) has pretty much taken over the pencil and paper, so most times architects are hunched over computers rather than drawing their own design.

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8) Architects Work Alone

Like most projects—architecture is not the work of one sole person—it takes a team. There are usually dozens of people involved in the larger projects (interns, modelers, the CAD designers, people in the field etc)

While most design firms have a managing principle: a person who facilitates the design; they are not usually the actual designers. Rather it is the lower totem staff who create the design, but sometimes the managing principle becomes ‘The Architect” who designed said building.  We see how this could be frustrating for the rest of the team. Just know that when you read in a magazine about ‘so and so was the architect’ , there was probably a lot more people involved than that one person mentioned in the article.

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 9) Architects Can Get You The Materials

Architects design, as we mentioned above, they are not the builders of their designs; therefore, they are not brokers for the materials used in a project.

They can only suggest which materials are best suited for the design, and perhaps mention a possible source of such material to the builders, but the builders probably already have their own  material sources, and perhaps their own ideas of what materials will work best.

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 10) All Architects Are Equally Qualified

They all went to school to get the same degree, right? So they should all be equally qualified for the task at hand? Wrong. Yes, architecture is a science, but there are numerous ideologies that can change the way an individual firm approaches your job.

Look to their individual past experiences: What are they predominant in–Commercial or housing or green design etc? Ask how they approach a job, what is their workflow process, what do their past projects look like? No two architects or architectural firms are alike, so choose one that best suits your individual needs.

Wow! There are a lot of misconceptions about architects. Do any of these ring true for you?  We think that despite all the ups and downs of this field of study, architecture still remains an amazing job whereby you can become well-known for your unique and creative design abilities.

What do you think the most common misconception of architects is?

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