Oct. 22nd, 2010

tnrkitect: (Default)
So, I've been thinking recently. As many may know, I have a new job working for the Corps of Engineers in Huntsville. My job is a Project Manager, and I manage Energy Surveys of DoD installations worldwide as we do them. I have clients (the installations) to keep happy (they are spending money from their budgets to pay us to do the work as the "experts"). I have engineers to manage that actually do the work or supervise the contractors that do the work. I deal with contract negotiations, budgets, scheduling issues, all the same stuff that I would do on a building project. The work is interesting and enjoyable, I'm continually learning, I get to travel, and the pay, job security, and vacation time can't be beat.

The only perceived drawback is that there is no design/creative aspect to the job.

By training and profession (and job description within the COE system) I am an Architect. The Corps even pays for my license renewal every year, and makes sure I have the opportunity to get the Continuing Education I need to keep my license. Yet the skills that I use for this job are the ones that do not require design.

The interesting thing is, I am OK with that.

Why?

Because I can get my design "fix" elsewhere! Who says that I can only be creative at work? Most commercial / government / military architectural work doesn't really require a lot of creativity. Your time is spent squeezing every last penny you can out of the design by only doing the minimum work required to give the customer the same old building typology dressed up in a different rearrangement of the same tired architectural tricks.

If a building has a brick facade, it is NOT a requirement that all corners must have quoins! It is not a requirement that every restroom that has upgraded decor must have an Uba-tuba granite counter top with a white, raised bowl sink and a single handle brushed nickel faucet that has an extension on it to be high enough to flow into the sink. I do not have to have only flat paint on all interior wall surfaces.

By NOT having to do design at work yet still getting paid to keep up my knowledge, it actually frees my creativity. I can reserve it for sketching, drawing or painting. I can use it for creating the miniature environs of a model railroad accurately. I can build furniture. I can moonlight, doing only the work I WANT to do. I can design and create architectural follies, or my own versions of tiny houses. I can experiment.I can renovate an old house.

The point is, my creativity is not wasted churning out the same tired design reconfigured to fit the requirements of a new building.

I get the best of both worlds.

Job security and skills maintenance, without the restrictions of having to conform my creativeness to the least common denominator.  AKA...

"How much is THAT going to cost me?"

The possibilities!

(Addendum: I must note that the above is true for my position within the Energy Division. PM's of project that deal with design MAY get the chance to design in their daily job, however I am not certain as I have not seen the way they allocate work.)

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tnrkitect - Musings of an Unconventional Mind

June 2011

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