I Once Wanted to Be an Architect

Chatting with my son on Saturday morning, he told me that he thought he might want to be an architect when he grew up. This made a lot of sense to me. He’s always constructing all kinds of interesting things with Legos, or sketching out elaborate bases on paper. It also reminded me of a time that I wanted to be an architect. In 11th grade, I took Drafting as my elective. It was a great class, taught by a very good teacher, and in that class I learned how to draw floor plans and elevation, how to use templates and other tools of the trade. I had fun laying out imaginary houses, but I had even more fun drawing those houses from the floor plans I’d laid out.

Yesterday, while searching for some old letters, I found those drawings from 34 years ago. I thought I’d shared them here once before, years ago, but I could find no reference to them when I searched the blog, so I figured I’d share those drawings with you today. First, we have a pair of drawing I made of what the 16-year old version of me thought my house would look like when I was a grown up:

My imagined future house, front view.
My imagined future house, front view.

Next, we have what I was certain the back of my future house would look like, complete with deck, pool, and tennis court.

My imagined future house, rear view.
My imagined future house, rear view.

Compare and contrast to what my actual house looks like, some 34 years later:

My house, today.
My house, today is somewhat more modest than what I thought it might be as a 16-year old.

Not quite what I imagined it would be as a brash 16-year old, although we do have a large deck in the back. No pool or tennis courts, though.

Okay, a few more of my drawings from that drafting class. Here’s one of a beach house I designed:

A beach house drawing from 11th grade.
A beach house drawing from 11th grade.

I’m not quite sure how to describe this next house, other than to see it appears very accordion-like to me:

My "Accordion"-style house.
My “Accordion”-style house.

This one is another beach house. Keep in mind that I lived in L.A. when I was making these drawings and we would occasionally drive past houses in places like Pacific Palisades and Malibu, and that might have had some influence on all of the beach houses I was designing.

YABH: Yet Another Beach House.
YABH: Yet Another Beach House.

This next one is what I’d call a “contemporary” style–at least for the late 1980s. It reminds me of the houses I’d see in the Chatsworth area of the San Fernando Valley.

A 1980s "contemporary"-style house.
A 1980s “contemporary”-style house.

Finally, I found one attempt I’d made at what I think is a Tutor-style house:

A Tutor-style house.
A Tutor-style house.

When I was taking this class, and making these drawings, I’d been working at a stationary store in the Northridge Fashion Center, so I had access to lots of drawing material at a discount. There was a record store near the stationary store, and I remember going in and buying Christopher Cross’s eponymous album, and listening to that album over and over while I made these drawings. Today, when I hear songs from that album, I am reminded of velum and the smell of pencil lead. I also recall buying issues of Architectural Digest and flipping through the magazine, clipping out pictures of places I thought I might own when I was a grown up.

My desire to be an architect did not outlive 11th grade, however. I moved on to other things, and when I entered the University of California, Riverside in the fall of 1994, a little over a year after making these drawings, it was as a physics major.

Still, I’m glad I found these drawings, and happier still that I was able to preserve them here. I showed them to my son, who responded with typical teenage brevity: “Cool!” he said.

Written on August 23, 2022.

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