8 Things Successful Architects and Designers Do

Good architects tell a story and engage the senses. They understand the rules — and know when to break them.

Every architect’s design process is extremely personal and nuanced. For example, I have certain tools that I reach for ritually when I start a new project. One is a favorite lead pencil with a lightweight, medium-size barrel and a thinly ridged grip, loaded with a medium-weight HB lead that’s not too soft and not too hard. It has a broken clip at the top and a small blue button near my thumb to advance the lead. It’s with this pencil in hand that I begin each design, visiting the project site, writing, taking notes and sketching in a pocket-size gridded sketchbook. I take with me a small corded bundle of Prismacolor pencils — light cream, sky blue, May green, French gray, yellow ocher and oxide red — to fill in the line work of my sketches and suggest order. It has to be this way for me, and I know that when I’m armed with these tools, the ideas will flow easily. While each architect’s habits are individual and idiosyncratic, the broader architectural habits we share lay the foundations for good design. Here are eight (of the many) habits that help guide successful architects during the design process.

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