Architalks #27: Mentorship

This month’s #Architalks theme was suggested by Michael Lavalley, another regular contributor on our blog roll. #Architalks were originally started by Life of an Architect, Bob Borson. Excuse my late posting of this month’s topic. I was celebrating my local NBA team’s winning of the championship series, and it completely slipped my mind that I needed to come back and officially publish this post. If you like this post, be sure to check out the others as a part of the blog roll listed at the bottom.

Mentorship is actually a pretty big deal in the architectural profession. In fact, in order to become an licensed architect, one needs to have a mentor (or mentors) and they often shape the kind of work the mentee may produce in the future whether they know it or not. When coming fresh out of the academic environment, it's a blessing to have mentors that understand the office and business side of architecture. 

As I look back on my career, I have been fortunate enough to have several mentors throughout the different offices I've been able to work at, but I have two mentors that really shaped the way I work and the way I think about architecture as a profession, and as a whole. As an Asian American architectural professional, it's funny how these two mentors have balanced my ethnic identity as well.

My first mentor is someone I can still go to on a daily basis, even at the wee hours of the night or morning if needed. He's the one that gave me my first chance to really see and experience an architectural office, and I continue to consult with him presently. His name is Karl Sherwood-Coombs. Karl has been an architect here in the Bay Area / Silicon Valley for a long long time. He's a part of the older generation that learned to draft by hand on large drafting tables but at the same time, he is computer literate though not to the extent of producing CAD drawings. He attended Stanford's architecture program in addition to his previous degree from Texas, and worked for such local offices as Steinberg Architects and ACS Architects, the latter which he eventually came to own. What I appreciate most about Karl is his belief in me. He's instilled in me confidence as an architectural professional and designer.

My other mentor is an architect I met almost purely by chance in South Korea. The summer before my fifth year in architecture school, I took a month-long trip to Korea to do some soul-(Seoul?)-searching and ran across an office that appeared to be a bit more westernized. The architect's name was Byoung Soo Cho and he studied at the GSD and eventually taught there too, in addition to teaching at MSU. When I got a quick office tour at Byoung's, he casually said I should work there upon graduating and to keep in touch. He said this so casually that I thought for sure he was kidding. 'He probably says that to everybody,' I thought. When it came close to graduating, I kept thinking back on that encounter and sent him an email. He asked when I wanted to come and even paid for my plane ticket! Working for and learning from Byoung was a priceless experience. From his whimsical sketches, he would expect us to turn them into buildings on the computer utilizing 3d CAD software. He had an eye for detail and a desire to carry through a design idea at almost any cost. It was at Byoung's office I really learned the meaning of hard work and it paying off.  

If you want even more on mentorship, go listen to Archispeak Podcast episode #115 on Mentorship here.

Bob Borson - Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
This is NOT Mentorship

Marica McKeel - Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
ArchiTalks: Mentorship

Jeff Echols - Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Mentors, Millennials and the Boomer Cliff

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
mentor was on the odyssey

Mark R. LePage - EntreArchitect (@EntreArchitect)

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
ArchiTalks: Mentorship

Jeremiah Russell, AIA - ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
teach them the way they should go: #architalks

Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Bad Mentor, Good Mentor

Stephen Ramos - BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@BuildingsRCool)
The Top 3 Benefits for Architects to Mentor and to be Mentored

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
I've got a lot to learn

Jonathan Brown - Proto-Architecture (@mondo_tiki_man)
Bah Humbug!

Emily Grandstaff-Rice - Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Gurus, Swamis, and Other Architectural Guides

Jarod Hall - di'velept (@divelept)
The Lonely Mentor

Drew Paul Bell - Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Advice From My Mentor

Jeffrey Pelletier - Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Mentoring with Anecdotes vs. Creating a Culture of Trust

Samantha R. Markham - The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Why every Aspiring Architect needs SCARs

Nisha Kandiah - ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Mentorship : mend or end ?

Keith Palma - Architect's Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Mentor5hip is...

Jim Mehaffey - Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
My Mentor

Tim Ung - Journey of an Architect (@timothy_ung)
5 Mentors that are in my life

Mark Stephens - Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)

Gabriela Baierle-Atwood - Gabriela Baierle-Atwood (@gabrielabaierle)
On Mentorship

Ilaria Marani - Creative Aptitude (@creaptitude)