Journey of an Architect is a blog started by Tim Ung to document his journey to design 30 projects by the age of 30 (May 2020). His posts focus on his design process, thoughts, struggles, and successes throughout his journey.

A week of traveling and sightseeing

A week of traveling and sightseeing

As Architects, we’re often caught up with our projects at the office and we constantly lose track of time. As one project is complete, another one enters our schedule and we find ourselves in a constant stream of work. This is great for any architecture office because it’s proof that we’re doing fantastic work and attracting more clients.

However, when we’re caught in this stream of work, we find ourselves in the office for longer hours, eating lunch at our desks, spending extra time trying to make the project perfect, and not leaving the from sunrise to sunset. Every day, we spend our time in the same places and our health slowly deteriorates.

How do I maintain a healthy lifestyle with a busy schedule?

This is a question that I’ve asked myself every few months because I often find myself spending more and more time in the office. Aside from developing a better eating habit and introducing lots of fruits and vegetables to my daily diet, I’ve started eating lunch at my desk and going out for a 30 minute walk, going to the gym or for a run after leaving the office, and scheduling medium or long vacations throughout the year.

This past week, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend my Independence Day weekend traveling to see my family and girlfriend in New York City, NY, catching up with my uncle and aunt in Boston, MA, and heading to Binghamton for a project.

Driving to Rockland County to meet up with my girlfriend

After waiting for months to receive my official license as an Architect in New York, I finally took the time to celebrate this milestone in my life with my girlfriend who is working in NYC for the summer. Once I left the office on Friday, I got in my car and drove to Rockland County to meet up with my girlfriend who was teaching a weeklong course at Rockland Community College.

We spent the night catching up and eating General Tso’s Chicken from a Chinese take-out restaurant. I’ve had a craving for this meal ever since watching “The Search for General Tso” on Netflix a few months ago.

The next morning, both of us were ready to make our way down to my house in NYC and figure out our celebratory plans for the day.

Road trip to NYC

Celebrating my official license as an Architect in NYC

Once we made it to my house, my mother cooked us lunch and we spent a few hours talking to my mom and checking out some shows on Broadway. We decided to celebrate my milestone of becoming a licensed Architect in New York by watching Finding Neverland on Broadway. So we made our way down to Times Square to pick up our tickets and to take a necessary touristy photo of the people, buildings, and advertisements from the amphitheater platform.

Times Square Daytime

With 4 hours to spare, we made our way over to the west side highway and walked along the water where we were able to see lots of new developments being constructed and existing buildings from multiple eras. After our selfie and fantastic Halal food by the water, we made our way over to the Broadway show, which was my first time watching any show on Broadway.

West Side Highway View of NYC

Selfie by the Hudson River

Watching Finding Neverland on Broadway

Since I’ve never watched a show on Broadway, I didn’t know what to expect with regards to the stage design, props, or performance. However, once the show began, I was amazed and moved by the beautiful and constantly changing props, extraordinary talents of the actors and actresses, and by the storyline of the play.

Finding Neverland Broadway

If you’re unfamiliar with this particular play, the storyline focuses on Sir James Matthew Barrie, who is the author of Peter Pan, and how he came up with the play. Barrie was a successful Scottish novelist who wrote plays and was struggling to come up with a new one that was different from the others. So he constantly wrote new plays, but each one had similar characters and scenes as the last.

After going through this several times, Barrie met a group of children and their mother at a park and began spending time with the family. From this encounter and these experiences, he was able to come up with new ideas and his play, Peter Pan.

What I learned from Finding Neverland

As an Architect, I often find myself working long hours in the office or spending all of my time developing architecture projects at home. So the story of Barrie working hard to come up with a new idea, but struggling to develop different characters than his previous plays is a struggle that I’ve encountered multiple times.

Whenever I get stuck on any architecture project, I usually ask others for their opinions on the problems that I’m having and I head out for a walk. If I’m feeling as if I’ll burn out, I take a mini-vacation such as this road trip to NYC, Boston, and Binghamton to clear my mind and recharge my spirit. Once I return to the office, I’m able to see different perspectives of the project and come up with new ideas.

Heading back to Times Square on our way home

Once Finding Neverland was over, we made our way towards the train station to catch our train back to my house. On our way, I decided to make another stop at the same amphitheater area from earlier and took another picture of all of the people, buildings, and advertisements.

Times Square Night Time

A short trip to Boston

The next day, we ate brunch at my house, which consisted of an amazing homemade salad and eggrolls that my mother prepared. We were debating what to do for the remainder of the day and we decided to make our way over to Boston, MA to visit my uncle and aunt. I haven’t spent time with either of them in 16 years, so I thought it would be nice to catch up with them.

We jumped into the car with my mother and younger sister and drove 3 hours to Boston where we had dinner with my uncle and aunt and headed downtown to Harvard Square. We found a parking spot and walked towards the square where we caught the end of a street performer doing a handstand on stacked stools with sharp blades at every corner. We also passed by a concrete building with cantilevers and structural silicone glass facades.

Boston Street Performance

Concrete Building in Boston

On our way back to my uncle and aunt’s house, we picked up some fantastic homemade ice cream from a stand nearby and went to sleep. We woke up and drove back to NYC on Independence Day and I spent the remainder of the day sitting on a recliner chair and watching television.

The drive back to Buffalo

The next morning, I ate breakfast and had a chat with my mother about my current place in life and my future plans. She sat and listened as I described all of my ideas of different companies I plan to start and she just nodded as I spoke. Once we finished our conversation, we packed my car with boxes of my belongings from storage and a large pot with 3 different types of plants to bring back to my house in Buffalo.

Roadtrip Back to Buffalo

Once we were done, I gave my mother a hug, figured out my route home, and left. This is always the hardest moment for me because I always want to spend more time with all of my family and friends in NYC.

Unpacking my stuff and packing for my trip to Binghamton

After unpacking my car, I went to the grocery store to pick up some fruits and meat for the week and lounged around for the remainder of the night. I really couldn’t bring myself to do anything and I didn’t feel guilty about binge watching a new show on Netflix. I quickly packed a change of clothes and went to bed so that I could wake up early for my trip to Binghamton for a project.

My co-worker and I met in the morning and immediately began to drive to Binghamton for a project. After 4 hours of driving, we ate lunch at a nice restaurant called Lost Dogs and drove to the project site. For this project, we were surveying the existing fire safety equipment in two buildings and it took us about 4 hours to complete the walkthrough. We even had a chance to get out onto the rooftop of the building and see an old castle in the distance.

Checking into our hotel and getting dinner

Once we were done walking through the two buildings, we made our way to our hotel and checked in to our rooms, which were on the top floor along the river. I went out for a run in the 92 degree weather, which was not a good idea, and I got ready for dinner. We made our way to a fantastic restaurant called Number 5, which is in an old renovated fire station house and had a wonderful dinner before going to bed.

River view from the hotel

Swordfish Dinner at Number 5

The end of a long road trip

Finally, after 6 days of driving, sightseeing, and working, I was able to get back to my house and get some much needed gardening work done. Although these trips were fun and rewarding, there was a part of me that really wanted to get back to my house and the office. If you’re ever feeling as if you’re spending too much time in the office and you’re about to burn out, I highly recommend taking a few days or a week to travel and explore the world.

Thank you so much for reading and for joining me on my journey as an Architect!

-Tim


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