Like many other professions, architecture has its common stereotypes, many of which come from a small section of the practice that the media blew out of proportion. Pop culture also has a role to play, like the impression that architects wear round-rimmed spectacles and smoke a pipe. Not every architect looks like Le Corbusier– although we would love to be as influential.

Another misconception I have observed is, some people think architects only draw. We draw and do a lot more. In this post, you’ll likely see one or two wrong notions you have about architects or architectural firms. Hopefully I’ll be able to convince you otherwise.

Architects are for big, complex and expensive projects

No way. Regardless of what you are building, from a massive art museum to a warehouse in your backyard, every project needs a thoughtful design to guide its successful completion. In fact, some small projects require fine details which are absent in large ones. If you don’t get them right, the finishing will be off- anything worth doing is worth doing well. No matter your budget or project scope, there is a design suitable for it.

Architects are rich, glamorous and enjoy the finer things in life

This probably stems from the first misconception. After all, if you only take massive projects, you are paid handsomely every time. There is no doubting the fact that there are posh firms out there, but like every profession, there are levels; the Startups, the free-lance architect, the two-man partnership and so on. Each architect has their niche and it is not all glamourous. In fact, the starting salary of an architect has a huge pay gap. It takes years to finally feel the impact of our rigorous education.

Architects only draw

Yes, we do draw. I even have a separate notepad for my daily doodles and thought designs. And on occasion I amuse my 5-year old son with a sketch of Fred Flintstone juggling some rocks. But that’s not all, architects have a long list of specialties which include:

  • Energy analysis
  • Site selection
  • Obtaining building permits
  • Interiors
  • Flooring selection
  • Colour selection
  • Cost analysis
  • Building restoration
  • Construction administration
  • Design and coordination of new buildings

I could add more but will stop here.

Architects can get you materials

I often have clients who think architects are involved in the negotiation and purchase of building materials. That would make us builders, which we are not- technically. But our experience in the industry puts us in the best position to recommend quality material or builders to clients. We have a close relationship with builders, but the final negotiation is done by the developer/builder.

All architects should be as good as Frank Gehry or Frank Lloyd Wright

These are the rock stars of our profession, but like the music industry rock stars are a rarity. The same way you have a majority of small time gig to gig musicians looking for their big break, most architects make a modest salary and work themselves up to viable up-fits and commissions. But don’t worry, we are getting there.

Do you have your personal notions? What are they?