Advice for Young Architects

Throughout my short career, I have been able to meet extraordinary architects and leaders that have impacted and inspired me to improve myself and to seek to grow professionally. With that in mind, I am going to share the knowledge and experience of Rob Jurbergs, architect and principal at HBG Design, with the purpose to cause the same reaction on architecture recent graduates and emergent professionals. Rob provides his insight towards architecture and the profession.

Rob Jurbergs, Architect and Principal at HBG Design.

AoC: This might sound like a cliché question, but what made you to want to be an architect?

RJ: I think I would probably answer that differently throughout my career. When I was young, I was an artist and I would try to find a way to channel my creative side into something that could be useful and functional, and that’s why I went into architecture. As I got older, I started to see the potential with architecture of the sizes and scale of visions coming alive. With some of the early projects at HBG and the collaboration within the team, I started seeing team members working at what they are the best at, I saw people excel when they do what they love, and that is how my career was built. If I love doing it, I’m going to be good at it, and I am going to be successful. Ultimately, with a success mindset, you will see the project get built, even through all the difficulties and pitfalls that may occur.

My early mentors where the artist architects. They were the ones that could take out a roll of trace paper and do a beautiful two-point perspective by hand with a depth, details, and character. They taught me to say that people perceived in perspective, they don’t perceive in plan or section. This influenced me to think and say how people are are going to walk through the space and experience architecture or where do you stop and say “Wow!” Anytime I draw whether is in plan or in Sketchup, which I mostly do, because of my love of the perspective world, I think about how people will perceive spaces in the architecture.

AoC: It’s interesting you mention how people react to perspective…

RJ: I believe this comes from my early influences of wanting to be the artist looking to frame a portion of reality. As an architect, you get the bonus that it does not end with a 2D drawing. You will experience how the design is built when you go into a site and see how the framing goes up. It is humbling and inspiring to see a three-dimensional reality of what you created!

I don’t have any ideological trends, yet I like a lot of styles. I appreciate contemporary and minimalism, but I also love eclectic and even thematic. I have done a little bit of everything throughout my career depending on what the project is. I see everything as a challenge. What keeps me going through 21 years as an architect is the difference of every project. I think that if all I did was one style; I would probably get bored.

AoC: Now that you mention movements and style, do you think we are currently living one?

RJ: If you look back to architectural history, there have always been periods, styles, and movements going on, but I feel we are currently more influenced by the entertainment and collision of themes in design. There are segments of our society that are very nostalgic and still look back into things in history that inspire them. An example is residential architecture which may feel Georgian or Early Classicism or Colonial style. Today, I believe the world is more eclectic and “multi-culturalized” based on the background and perception of the world as an architect. Everything is aspirational in architecture. Every work, I think, changes depending on the location.

Remember, wherever you spend your energy in life, that’s is where you are going headed and be successful as well.

AoC: What is your approach towards architecture? And by that I mean, what is architecture to you?

RJ: As I am currently into leather crafting, I wonder why this taps into my personal desire and creative energy and I still think it comes back to my basic desire to create beautiful things that are useful. When you think down from where that desire comes from, it does not really matter if it is a building or a chair or an object designed, it all relates back to human use. Beautiful and functional is the core of it. That is architecture to me.
Architecture is the medium to make it all happen at the larger scale of physical perception. Remember, wherever you spend your energy in life, that’s is where you are going headed and be successful as well.

AoC: Where your inspiration comes from?

RJ: I think it is different for people. I think it is an individual character trait. I met a lot of people that think in many different ways, and you can be creative and methodical or almost scientific about architecture and design. But I feel I am not that way. I am not as sequential as sometimes I should be, and I would say that maybe that it is not right for an architect. But it has worked for me for many years so I don’t question it; I just accept it as it is. That is how I am.

I believe it is important to be connected to nature and the outside views. For example, in our new office, with the changes of the light or the sunset, I think it is inspiring. It is just as the concept of Biophilia in design, how to make nature part of the overall experience. Humans relate to nature in a very basic way and maybe that is where our inspiration comes from.

AoC: The purpose of this interview is to inspire architecture students and emerging professionals. Do you have any advice for those who are about to start in the architecture practice?

RJ: My biggest advice is to try a lot of things and to never be afraid to fail. Also, you should let yourself to be open to the challenges that the profession gives you. The real world pressures architects and designers probably more than it was when I graduated and you are expected now to be more transparent about how we design. We are expected to show the clients what the buildings looks like far before we have had time to figure it out. So that’s why I will give you three bits of advices:

  1.  Never be afraid to challenge yourself and to put yourself in tricky situations because you will grow from it.
  2. Be open to the difference between the academic world and the professional world of architecture. It is a tough transition for a lot of people, but the ones that make to the other side are the ones that will be successful architects that will be changing the world.
  3. Always invest in new technology and exploit new ideas and trends. Try to find time to travel to experience different cultures, cities, and building types and learn from the architecture you experience that may open your eyes to new ideas.


Special thanks to Rob Jurbergs for being part of this idea.
Thank you.

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