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A Day in the Life of an Architect

This is my entry in the ArchiTalks blogging event for December – in which we architects record a typical day in our professional lives. Links to the other posts are provided below.

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My firm (Thousand Story Studio, LLC) is young in architectural terms. I spend much of my time in the community, developing relationships and forming alliances. Let me be honest with you – I don’t have a great project-based story to tell you here. Lately my days have been spent networking and generating marketing content – all in preparation for the next client, the next project. I’m an introvert at heart, but I’ve learned to enjoy meeting new people, hearing their stories, and opening their eyes to the world of architecture.

Here’s how I spent the day on Thursday, November 20th.

Calendar I

I began the morning at 6:00 at my church were I meet with a group of men to discuss the scriptural aspects of life. There is some professional overlap with these guys, but we focus on faith and mission issues for 90 minutes each week.

As soon as this meeting breaks up, I have to race across town for the monthly CRE meeting. This is a group of commercial real estate brokers and developers who have welcomed me into their circles. Although they’ve all worked with designers and builders before, I’m the only architect who meets with them regularly. I’m the only one on their email distribution list. Roughly two thirds of my work has come through these connections, so it’s been a great group to be a part of.

Newsetter Photo

On this particular day I announce that some of them will receive the premier edition of my firm’s newsletter. I hold it high and offer it digitally to the rest of the group. At the meeting I meet a gentleman with an aerial photography and surveying company. We’re going to strategize how we can combine services and engage in some cross-marketing in 2015. Another CRE professional asked to be on my mailing list; he’s new to the region and doesn’t have an architect yet. I also speak with the presenter, a chamber of commerce director, and he expresses interest in using my business testimonial in a future promotional campaign.

After the real estate meeting I drop by a downtown coworking space to connect with some other associates. Several long term relationships have been fostered in this space and some far-reaching business opportunities are forming. It’s always worth a moment to check in. On this day, one of the fellows using the space is a preacher friend (the faith and mission aspects are never far away). Others arrive and the impromptu visit turns into a lunch meeting.  

Downtown Huntsville

Downtown Huntsville

I make it back to my home office by early afternoon. The rest of the day is spent following up on discussions started and following through on commitments made. I accomplish these thinks through LinkedIn, by email, and over the phone. My wife and I are planning a rare weekend trip so I end my work day early to prepare for our morning departure.

This script is void of what people might think an architect does, but it is actually how I spent that Thursday in November. I believe that the consistent networking and marketing I do will pay off in many satisfied clients and in some notable architecture. For this season it’s all about meeting people and cultivating prospects.

Who says architectural practice isn’t a matter of faith and mission?

Please enjoy some other (more interesting) architectural stories as my blogging friends share “A Day in the Fife of…”
Bob Borson – Life of An Architect
A Day in the Life of an Architect

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture
A Day in the Life of FiELD9: architecture

Marica McKeel – Studio MM
A Day in the Life of a Small Firm Residential Architect

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet
What To Do When You Lose Your Job In Architecture: A Day In The Life

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect
a day in the life…part 2

Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect
EA054: A Day in the Life of Mark R. LePage [Podcast]

Evan Troxel – Archispeak Podcast / TRXL
A Day in My Life

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC
A Day in the Life of: An Almost Architect

Nicholas Renard – Cote Renard Architecture
Another Day of Living the Dream

Andrew Hawkins, AIA – Hawkins Architecture, Inc.
Day in the Life of a Small Firm Owner

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture
a day in the life of a rogue architect

Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design

A Day in the Life of MODarchitect

And a bonus post from Jes Stafford (last month’s post): Architectural Storytelling – Discovery of a Passion

Cormac Phalen  



  1. Lora /Reply

    Thanks for the breath of fresh air, Collier. I’d love to hear more about how you gain work from the real estate “guys”.

  2. Collier Ward /Reply

    Thanks, Lora.
    I didn’t mean to imply the real estate group was all guys. In fact, some of the most dynamic and helpfully members are women! I’ll keep you posted as any projects develop…

  3. Bob@ Life of an Architect /Reply

    Thanks for sharing your “Thursday” – I think you spent your energy (both on that Thursday and in the telling of this story) in a very productive way. I tell people all the time that I think architecture is a service profession and unless you are a massive sized firm, most of your work will come from the people you know … and the more people you know the better. Marketing is an area of the business that most architects just figure out along the way, so thanks for sharing your path with us.


  4. Marica McKeel /Reply

    Very inspiring post to get out there and be a part of your local community. So important and yet so often something that gets pushed to the background for me. Good ideas and great story!
    Thanks! – Marica

  5. cormac phalen /Reply

    I think the “non” architectural aspects are equally “architectural” AND important to showing what we in the profession are made of and dispelling the notion that we hover above the community not in the community. Keep up the goodness Collier and it’s great to be an Auburn Tiger.

  6. Lee Calisti /Reply

    Collier, you’ve got a great recipe going here. As a fellow believer I’m so encouraged by your sharing of faith and how it comes across. I also love the personal touch of the way you network. It shows that we as architects are real and our desire to serve real people in a relational way. So often our profession comes across as architects who design big projects to further our own agendas. People must love the simple face to face approach you describe. I’d love to share a coffee and a few “stories” one day in person.

    1. Collier Ward /Reply

      Lee, thanks. It would be great to share some stories of faith and practice over coffee someday. If I ever head to the Pittsburg-Greensburg area, I’ll give you a call!

  7. Jeremiah Russell /Reply

    Collier, excellent post, my friend! Seems like your days are a lot like mine – a little architecture and a lot of people. But that’s ok. You are right that those relationships you foster now will turn into clients and projects later. Good luck! I look forward to seeing more exciting posts!

  8. Andrew Hawkins /Reply

    This is definitely time well spent. Business runs on people. All business. Period. The larger you build your network and maintain contact with them, the better the odds of being the person they think of at the right moment. I wish I had a bit more time in my days to devote to such activities. Business development is a full time job. So do not think this is not what an architect does. Because a good architect does it all!

  9. matthew.Stanfield /Reply

    I remember those days. It was not all that long ago i was in the same position. Spent all my time networking, going to community meetings, and just being involved. I sometimes miss the freedom to do all that stuff, and i do recognize the importance to keeping up with it to some degree. But i have really had to pull back on those kind of activities to hit the drawing board. Keep up the good work. Your efforts will pay off.

    1. Collier Ward /Reply

      Thanks, Matthew. There’s an inherent paradox – as our networking efforts pay off, there’s less time to network. That’s why I’m intrigued by your production of custom products like the VegeCRATE. It seems like a good way to generate revenue independent of the typical architectural project cycle.

  10. Jeff Echols /Reply

    I’m right there with you brother! Stay involved, stay engaged, keep giving; it will all come back to you in the end! Keep up the good work Collier! – Jeff

  11. Evan Troxel /Reply

    Collier, thanks for sharing about your day. It shows how we have to make it rain – by putting in the hard work ahead of time. It sounds like you’re making some great plans for some interesting collaborations and I can’t wait to see who it all develops in 2015. Good luck!

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