Three Favorite Architectural Words

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

As I was tasked with choosing my three favorite words for this round of our scheduled #Architalks series, I had several immediate inclinations. But I easily cast those aside as they are not overly relevant to this series. For those who know me well, three other words will most likely come to mind. But I selected my three favorite words as they relate to the practice of architecture. As this seems the most applicable to an architectural blog!

So those three words . . . Design. Decide. Execute. I referred to these three words in a post describing the notion of Architecture in the Real World. These three words can serve to summarize my philosophy (in simple terms) on the practice and process of architecture. The longer I am in the profession and I operate my own business, these three words take on larger meaning. A skilled architect can navigate these three words in a manner that establishes forward progress and keeps momentum. One might assume that the words would be my firm’s tagline : Think + Create + Sustain, but those words seemed too obvious and easy for this assignment. Those are the tenets of my firm and are meaningful to my practice, but in my years of marketing, I have explained them plenty.

The firm tri-fold details Think + Create + Sustain.

The firm tri-fold brochure details Think + Create + Sustain as our tenets.

DESIGN. This one seems obvious, yet for me, it is far reaching. Of course I design the ideas for my projects and the architecture they eventually become. But there is another layer here. One I think that all good architects know; everything is about design. I design my workflow, my workspace, my work processes. Everything in my world is an exercise in design. Not only in architecture but also it has a tendency to flow over into the personal life as well. But we are not here to discuss that portion. But as an architect, or maybe better a creative individual, every piece of my life is eligible for better design. And that is why this one is a favorite word. It is what the reality that I live minute by minute, hour by hour each and every day. This is not always the best attribute as many other designers may comprehend. But that is why the next two words are also very essential to the process.

Design Def 2

DECIDE. This one may be the biggest one. As noted above everything is up for a redesign in the my world as an architect and creative thinker. The real pressure comes when it is time to do exactly this second word. Decide! As a creative solver of problems, there are actually limitless possible solutions to each and every problem/issue/challenge. (however you want to name them). The real mission is to choose one of the numerous possibilities and take ownership. And that means making a decision. It means having the ability to select one option and the confidence to take it up as your solution; the one that you are going to make work. This is not always easy for many architects or creatives. I am also not suggesting that one only investigates a single solution. That is not the notion here. It is that in order to better serve the project, client, and final product you need to commit. This also does not mean the solution is set in stone, but that the core idea of the solution is set.  I see this all too often that architects can continually re-think their chosen solution to a point of detriment.  And to be honest, it is usually visible in the project documents produced and even sometimes the final built architectural work. Architects can get stuck in a revolving loop of never taking ownership of a solution.  This, as you may have suspected, leads us right into the last of the three words.

DECIDE Defintion

EXECUTE. Once you have investigate a multitude of design solutions; and then decided on one particular solution, you must then execute that choice. This is often the step that gets lost if one cannot commit to a decision in step two. The full execution of a design idea is what makes the reality. Proper execution of an idea can be beautiful, inspiring and fulfilling. Not just to the architect, (hopefully not actually) but to the client and even to anyone who comes in contact with the final solution. It is this fully executed design decision that makes a project. This takes it to the next level.  And careful, comprehensive execution will no doubt inform the previous two words in the process. But that is why all three are necessary.

EXECUTE Definition

The combination of these three words, in my professional opinion, is essential to create outstanding architecture. It is a critical process from one to the next in often a cyclical fashion to create better built environments. And along the way, yes, it is undeniable that outside influences will impact these three words. Clients, codes, dollars, time, materials, you name it have a part to play in the three word cycle. But as each word informs the next, those outliers are folded into the process. That is the brilliance of this three word cycle.

DESIGN (better everything)  DECIDE (commit to ownership)  EXECUTE (fully detailed implementation

Design Decide Execute

–Andrew G Hawkins, AIA

Author Line 2015


This is part of a Series created by Bob Borson (Life of an Architect) and consisting of a group of great Architectural Thinkers. We are using the hashtag #ArchiTalks to hopefully gain some momentum and help others understand what we do as Architects. It should be a great dialog and one that I hope will continue for some time into the future. As several of the other responses are being posted around the internet, the links below are those that have already posted. This list will be populated and updated as others continue to contribute today. *Also it should go without saying all opinions expressed by those in the links below are their own and are not reflective of Hawkins Architecture, Inc.  (* legal stuff)

Today’s open topic: Three Favorite Words 

Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture ( @businessofarch )

3 Words to Get Started

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect ( @bobborson )

3 Words: Are. Blogs. Important.

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture ( @FiELD9arch )

3 Words

Marica McKeel – Studio MM ( @ArchitectMM )

Never Give Up

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet ( @Jeff_Echols )

What’s Your Story – My Three (or Four) Favorite Words

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect ( @LeeCalisti )

I Make Art

Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect )

Evan Troxel – TRXL ( @etroxel )

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC ( @L2DesignLLC )

#ArchiTalks: I love it!

Collier Ward – Thousand Story Studio ( @collier1960 )

Cormac Phalen – Cormac Phalen ( @archy_type )

Nicholas Renard – Cote Renard Architecture ( @coterenard )

Jeremiah Russell – ROGUE Architecture ( @rogue_architect )

three little words: #architalks

Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design ( @modarchitect ) 

I am listening

Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design/ The Missing 32% ( @miss32percent)

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect ( @mghottel ) 

architalk#9: my three favorite words

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA ) 

My Three Favorite Words

Amy Kalar –  ArchiMom  ( @AmyKalar ) 

My Three Favorite Words (Architalks #9)

Michael Riscica – Young Architect  ( @YoungArchitxPDX )

How’s it going… Finishing The Architect Exam?!??

Stephen Ramos –  Buildings are Cool   ( @sramos_BAC ) 

My Three Favorite Words

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect ( @bpaletz ) 

I am in

Tara Imani – Tara Imani Designs, LLC ( @Parthenon1 )

Jonathan Brown – Proto-Architecture ( @mondo_tiki_man )

The Big Idea

Eric Wittman – intern[life] ( @rico_w )

my three favorite [hardest] words