Architects! Get your hands dirty!

Mark Elster

At AOME, we cherish our collaborations with skilled tradespeople, valuing the opportunity to delve deeply into their crafts. Our approach emphasizes asking questions and carefully listening to their wealth of practical knowledge. This engagement not only enriches our understanding of their trades but also profoundly influences how we approach architecture.

We’ve learned invaluable lessons from tradespeople—from clever solutions and efficient methods to
unique problem-solving techniques. These insights have taught us about maximizing material potential,
optimizing assembly sequences, and enhancing design outcomes through subtle yet impactful adjustments.

However, we know that our admiration for tradespeople deepens significantly when we take a more hands-on approach. Recently, my son enlisted me, his architect father, to redesign and construct the front entry of his home. The existing setup posed safety and aesthetic challenges with its slippery worn-out concrete and poorly lit areas. Together, we designed and built a new ipe hardwood porch, integrated lighting, created planters, installed a parcel cabinet, and added functional elements like a bench and concealed hose cabinet.

Throughout the project, we tackled demolition, framing, finish carpentry, electrical and plumbing work, sheet metal fabrication, and more. We encountered and overcame numerous challenges, gaining firsthand insights into the daily realities and demands faced by tradespeople. This experience not only gave us sore muscles and minor injuries but also deepened our respect for their expertise and dedication.

As architects, we find that hands-on involvement of all types has profoundly transformed our perspective. It’s shifted how we approach our work and how we interact with tradespeople on-site. We believe that architects aiming to elevate their craft should engage directly with trades—whether through hobbies like woodworking or DIY projects. By wielding the tools and experiencing the intricacies of craftsmanship firsthand, we gain a profound appreciation for the skills and challenges that tradespeople navigate effortlessly.

At AOME, we advocate for architects to embrace hands-on learning to enhance their professional capabilities. Whether through personal projects or collaborative endeavors, immersing oneself in craftsmanship fosters a deeper understanding and respect for the trades that architecture relies upon.

Architects, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and create!