What does an architect look like?

February 27, 2011 at 4:45 pm 3 comments

What do real architects look like?” rhetorically asks Bryant Turnage of the Washington DC-based architecture, design, and urban planning blog “Off the Mall” (love that name, by the way). Turnage continues with some answers: “Well, that’s an easy question. An architect wears all black clothing, usually a turtleneck, and eyeglasses with thick, black plastic frames.”

“Instant Architect” via Core77

“Or maybe an architect wears a sharp suit and handmade leather shoes, and dons a hard hat whenever called to the construction site to review thick rolls of blueprints.”

“architect and supervisor reviewing blueprints” from iStockphoto (and from page 1 of results when I googled “architect”)

“No, wait, an architect wears distressed designer jeans, carries a well-used messenger bag, and is rarely seen without iPod earbuds firmly in place.”

photograph of an architecture student from The Satorialist

Turnage goes on to encourage architecture professionals to find ways of publicly showing what real, non-stereotyped, non-urban chic architects really look like, and even made a Flickr pool for people to upload photos of themselves.

“What Do Real Architects Look Like?” was an especially timely article (published February 8, 2011) because Architect Barbie was revealed a mere five days later during New York’s Toy Fair 11 (February 13-16, 2011). While the history of how the doll came into existence is definitely empowering (check out Design Observer or GOOD for the scoop), there have been mixed reviews on the final product.

via Architizer

February 27’s daily design idea is my own reaction to the new Barbie: I’m thrilled to see the idea of female architects playing out on such a national stage (because women are definitely underrepresented in the profession), but my biggest problem is that the idea of “career” within the whole line of professional Barbies is so oversimplified. I believe that the non-linear career path will only continue to become more common, which makes answering the question of “what you can be” more complicated (and more interesting) than what Mattel presents it to be.


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Fantastic photographic reenactments (2 of 2). One well-deserved stereotype.

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. One well-deserved stereotype. « Daily Design Idea  |  March 8, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    […] there are lots of stereotypes about architects, especially in regards to what they look like, there is another stereotype that I think is well deserved: […]

  • […] Since writing my post asking what real architects look like, the response has been amazing. It’s spurred discussions on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other forums. There have been copious jokes. Another blogger even wrote a response post. […]

  • 3. Goals and reflection. « Daily Design Idea  |  March 28, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    […] the home page, Top 3 Pages visited: the post What does an architect look like? (9,163 times) the post Fantastic photographic reenactments (2 of 2). (1,341 times) the post A […]


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