Why Architects should never stop before starting
Have you ever thought of an exciting architecture project but struggled to start because you doubted your ability to complete the project? Oftentimes, we come up with amazing ideas for an architecture project when we walk by an empty parcel or a vacant building. We also come across opportunities such as competitions where a typology, site, and programs are already developed for participants to design. In our minds, these opportunities appear to be an easy endeavor for us to pursue, but for some reason, many architects never get around to bringing their visions to life through renderings or by finding a client for their project. I’ve found that many architects and I struggle with starting an architecture project because we begin to doubt our own abilities and time.
After developing design ideas for 3 of my 30x30 projects, I found myself trying to spend time on all of the projects simultaneously throughout the week. During the weekend, I reflected on my past week of working on all of these projects at the same time. I found that I made very little progress on each one and I actually spent more time revising each project the next day.
As I continued reflecting on my progress designing 3x30 – One Seneca Tower and 4x30 – Competition, I started to feel anxious about whether or not I’ll be able to complete the competition in time and if redesigning a skyscraper alone would be possible with my current timeframe. Although the competition provided a drawing of the site with all of the existing buildings located and a full program and design brief, I began to feel as if the project was too much to take on alone.
I began to hesitate and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to finish any of these projects.
So I stopped thinking and I took action
One of the biggest lessons I learned in architecture school was that there are moments when it’s okay to think about my project and develop a plan to finish by the deadline, but sometimes I just needed to turn off my brain and get to designing and producing the project. At this point in time, I realized that I was overthinking all of these projects and I was spending more time developing a plan of action than working on my 30x30 projects.
I immediately stopped telling myself that this would be impossible and I decided to focus on one project at a time. Then, I started Revit and began developing one floor plan in 3x30 – One Seneca Tower, which was a lot more enjoyable because I wasn’t working under pressure or anxiety. By the weekend, I finished designing one floor of 3x30 – One Seneca Tower, which would be replicated on the next 7 floors above.
This simple switch in mentality from doubting my ability to finish any of these architecture projects to actually working strategically on designing each project allowed me to enjoy the design process and see my progress at the end of each night. Seeing my success of quickly designing 3x30 – One Seneca Tower gave me the motivation that I needed to start working on 4x30 – Competition.
So I opened the existing Revit model and began developing the remaining existing buildings and mentally planning each program’s layout. Initially, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to meet the deadline, which is 4 weeks away. However, I decided that it was more important for me to work as hard as I could to finish this project by the competition’s deadline. Over two days, I was able to develop the entire existing site model and about half of the existing building’s windows and doors.
How seeing progress can be motivational
If I never accepted all of my doubts and fears of completing my projects, I would’ve remained in the same spot that I was a week ago; frozen in fear and negativity. I know it may sound as if I’m over exaggerating, but I’ve been in this situation a few times in the past and I remember giving up before attempting to design the project at hand. The thoughts that were running through my head were, “Maybe I’m just not cutout for this”, “what if the design turns out to be terrible”, and “I probably won’t win this competition anyway”.
Although it was tough to overcome these thoughts, I eventually came to a point where I decided to give it a shot and start designing. So I put my pen on paper and just began doodling awkward and weird shapes. As I began turning the page to start a new sketch, something clicked and I was starting to come up with ideas and different thoughts. My thoughts were now, “well what if I did this”, “how can this design be more efficient”, and “I could probably finish the layout of this floor by tonight”.
Once I finally accepted all of my doubts and began designing projects 3x30 – One Seneca Tower and 4x30 – Competition, I immediately began to see progress with my projects. This progress led to more motivation for working on the project and I was able to focus all of my time and attention on completing each design task.
So if you’re thinking about starting a new architecture or design project, pick up a pen, write down a brief plan of action, and get started. Feel free to share your projects with me and tell me about any struggles you had and how you overcame them in the comments section below!