This Q&A is part of a series of interviews with BRP architects, designers, and others in the firm about their career journey, and the impact that architecture and design can have on our communities and the collective human experiences. Today, we sat down with Chris Swan, Architect and Managing Partner of BRP to discuss the evolution of his career and the architecture industry.
1. What motivated you to pursue a career in architecture? Were there any specific influences or experiences that led you down this path?
I have known since childhood that I wanted to be an architect. I remember starting to design hotels and homes about 7 or 8 years old. My parents supported my interests by keeping a never-ending supply of graph paper, pencils, scales, and other drawing instruments. In middle school, I went to a career day that included architects talking about their profession and what they do. I was resolved at that point that architecture was my career path.
2.What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made?
The best career decisions I’ve made are the ones that were outside of my comfort zone that forced me to grow and develop as an architect and a leader.
3. How has the architecture industry evolved since you began your career? What significant changes or trends have you observed?
The architecture industry has changed considerably over the 25 years of my professional career. Some of the biggest shifts are in the tools we use and the science of buildings. Since I graduated from college, I have seen 2D, computer-aided drafting be fully implemented only to be replaced by Building Information Modeling. The science of buildings has also evolved with better understanding vapor migration, sustainability, and technology integration.
4.How do you stay updated with the latest developments in architecture and design? Are there any resources or organizations you recommend for continuous learning?
Our profession has several resources that offer continuing education and other professional resources. The American Institute of Architects (AIA), National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), and United States Green Building Council (USGBC) are the primary examples of professional organizations providing resources to architects and other building design professional.
5.What advice do you have for aspiring architects who are just starting their careers? Is there anything you wish you had known when you were starting out?
I think the best advice to aspiring architects is to be true to your talents, skills, and passions. There is a myriad of professional trajectories within architecture like traditional professional practice, product sales, interior design, academia, and sustainability. Each architect has their own talents, skills, and passions. It is important to find the intersection of what you are good at and what you love.