As I studied fine arts in college, it was always rewarding to invest hours upon hours on an assignment and have something tangible and sometimes beautiful to show for it - something concrete that you could touch and hold and observe. The materiality of the sculptural piece, photograph or drawing was very satisfying. As the deadline of graduate school approached, the reward of tangible results was one of the primary reasons that architecture started to become an attractive option.
Architecture can be a frustrating occupation, as any occupation can be. Sometimes your ideas get shot down, contracts and communication take up days of unprofitable work, your "precious" details get value engineered out, or you fail to design something correctly. But, one of the most rewarding aspects of being an architect is when the building (or at least details of it) that you conceived actually come to life and appear before you. There is something you can look at and touch to show how hard and effective you have worked over the past months and, sometimes, years.
Over the last year, I have traveled to Orangeburg, SC on a weekly basis to help manage the construction of a world-class surgery center that we had the privilege of designing. Every week, more progress is observed with greater anticipation towards the final product. Every week, I get almost giddy as I drive up to the site noticing a completed masonry wall or storefront installation or sidewalk added. All this is something that someone trusted us to design in the most cost effective and beautiful way that we could imagine. As the building nears completion, it is quite humbling to see everything come together in one beautiful building. A building comprised of spaces that will help improve the lives of the employees that will spend 1/3 of their waking life in there as well as the patients that will encounter life altering surgeries there. As I walked around the building last Wednesday, it became all at once an emotional, humbling, exciting, and fulfilling moment. Architecture does have it's rewarding moments.