Architect memories

Recently, in the EntreArchitect group in Facebook, we reminisced about what architectural practice was like in the “good ol’ days.” Below are some memories I shared. More to come.

I studied architecture in my native Venezuela. There, your university education is all you need to practice. No ARE. I graduated a Saturday, and Monday I had my own firm with 5 other friends. Things are simpler there. In my 3 years of professional practice there, I never drew a wall section. Never wrote a spec. Didn’t know what a flashing was. No ice, no snow. It rains, the sun comes out and dries everything.

Before graduating, I worked for a couple of architects in Caracas, with 3 others. The architects kept changing their minds and the 4 of us did A LOT OF ERASING. We would sweep the eraser “dust” to a corner of our drafting table to see who had the biggest mound come Friday at 5PM. We got paid by the sheet, so I quickly learned that erasing and revising also takes time and costs money.

One of my bosses in that job was OLD, a founder of the Venezuelan equivalent of the AIA. We had to list, on the drawings, the license numbers of EVERYBODY in the firm. People thought we had made a mistake because HIS license number was “6”. Yes, SIX.

We used pencil for background lines and then ink and LEROY lettering for the final drawings, on vellum. Then, we would take a cotton ball soaked in solvent (benzene?) to remove pencil, smudges, fingerprints.  We produced beautiful, pristine drawings to be copied later in blueprint or sepia paper. Once, after drawing hundreds of trees on a site plan, I discovered that the cotton ball method didn’t work on mylar. EVERYTHING came off, even the trees.


  1. Bert on November 18, 2020 at 5:56 pm

    Sure brings back memories! I once worked for a firm in Washington, D.C. Our boards were lined up in columns 2 wide by 4 deep. The job captain, Bernie, had a board at the “foot” of the rows and occasionally would call-out “All I want to see are asses and elbows, asses and elbows” to keep us focused. We were paid $3.00 per hour, not bad as some weeks we’d put in 90 hours or so.

    We should all put together a book.


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