By Dale Weiss
August 21, 2017

Okay, I have to admit I’ve never vacationed with another architect. But since everyone believes all architects are basically alike, I’ll assume that your vacation experience with your architect will go pretty much like my family’s vacations go with me. Besides, it sounds much less narcissistic if I can use “we” instead of “I”. So here are four basic things you will experience and need to accept if you are going on vacation with an architect.

1.    There will be a physical reason for the location that you end up going to.

Your vacation purpose will not be just relaxing on a beach all week or cuddling up with a book in a cabin in the mountains. Trust me, there will be some form of architecture nearby. It could be the city or the town where the beach or cabin is near. I’ll bet it has at least one cool area with some interesting old buildings, or some newly built public area, or a contemporary museum, or funky shops. Your architect will find it and you will go check it out.

It could even be a specific resort that you end up at, but it will also be a well designed resort. Even if you can’t tell the difference, ask your architect. They’ll be glad to take you on a tour of the property and point out all the things that are making you feel relaxed without even knowing why. Be careful though, your architect also sees all the mistakes they made. Not to worry though. They also know how to fix it.

And if you did get to pick that cabin in the mountains without thinking about your built environment, don’t despair. Your architect will find the best rock formations to hike to or the most amazing waterfall for you to visit. After all, Mother Nature is an architect, too.

2.    There will be a plan, and there will be a schedule.

Don’t panic. Architects are master coordinators. It’s in our DNA. We have to deal with clients, and engineers, and contractors, and staff, and schedules, and materials, and technology – all in a state of constant flux. Vacation schedules are a piece of cake by comparison. Don’t be afraid of the schedule either. We only make them so we remember everything we wanted to go see.

Your architect is also accustomed to compromise (even if we are always right). And remember, we’re on vacation, too. It feels good to your architect if a schedule is not met and the world doesn’t crash and burn as a result. Just make sure he or she gets a few meaningful architectural fixes along the way.

3.    You will not stay with the tour group, or any group for that matter.

If you do find yourself in a guided tour, don’t expect to stay there for long. Your architect will quickly realize they know more than the tour guide and become bored and distracted. Here’s where you will need to watch your architect to see what they’re looking at. Architects are trained to be observant of the subtlest details. Their eyes will be constantly scanning, but when they pause, take notice. It will be something amazing that nobody else sees.

You will also not stay in a crowded area. We’re there for the experience of the place. Usually people are just visual clutter to us. We’re like the oppositely charged magnet that will just bounce away from all the other magnets. Grab tight and go for the ride. Don’t resist or complain. Your architect has a natural homing instinct for the best places to be. In short order you will round a corner and find yourself staring at the most amazing building, or in the perfect secluded garden, or a quiet funky shop, or if you’re lucky, the most perfect little café area with more character than you’ve seen since your last vacation with an architect. Which leads me to my last expectation.

4.    Expect spontaneous explorations.

This is especially true if your architect is carrying a camera. Remember those observational skills and homing instincts? You never know when they will kick in on an architect. Something will catch our eye, and we’ll have to chase it like a dog to a squirrel. Have a little patience and after a few quick clicks, and maybe an unauthorized climb for the perfect angle, we’ll be back on that schedule.

Speaking of schedule, you may notice that photowalks never seem to be a part of the schedule. That only means that it’s the kind of thing an architect is loath to schedule. A photowalk is a creative endeavor and the last thing an architect wants to do on a vacation is schedule creativity in. But we won’t be able to go more than a couple of days without doing something creative, so photowalk it is. If you did bring that book along, now would be the time to excuse yourself and go cuddle up with it.

If your architect is old school, expect the same thing with a sketchbook. That process takes a little longer, so don’t forget to bring your book along, too.

So there you have it. Just as architects are great at designing amazing buildings, we are also great at designing amazing vacations. All you need to do is trust your architect, give us feedback (we’ll accept it better if you call it “design parameters”), and stay flexible. Oh, and plan in a few days after your vacation to rest and recover.

« Back to news & insights