Drawing Inspiration from our Emerging Professionals – Brian Penschow

November 2, 2016

“Drawing Inspiration from our Emerging Professionals” is an eight-part series that will be published on the AIA NJ blog over the course of the month of October, AIA Emerging Professionals Month. In this series, our young professionals will chronicle the personal stories of how they were attracted to become architects — and how architecture inspires them.

epic_penshaw.jpg    Drawing Out My Inner Creativity

I like to joke with people that I came to architecture after trying accounting, anthropology, and archaeology, but that isn’t really true – my career path wasn’t nearly that simple. And while it is true that I played with legos and lincoln logs when I was a child, grew up in and around the beautiful architecture of New York City, and had a poster of the World Trade Center with the 1976 King Kong on my bedroom wall, none of those things inspired me to become an architect or even led me to architecture school.

In grade school, I wanted to be a marine biologist, but I didn’t know how to make a life out of that. (Ironically, my wife found a way; she actually teaches Marine Biology.)

As I grew older, my plans transformed and I was convinced that I would be a patent attorney, as my logic skills and gifts with mathematics and science would help me excel in that field. I planned to get an undergraduate engineering degree, and then go to law school, but none of that worked out. The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

While I did enter engineering school at the age of seventeen, I never finished my degree. After bouncing around several different jobs, some of which I considered possible careers, I decided to go back to school and study business, which ended up being a complete disaster. I was good at engineering, but in engineering there is one particular solution to a problem, and there is very limited room for creativity. I found business school very boring, and it’s no exaggeration to say that I was completely lost.

It wasn’t until I took my first class in architecture at my local community college that I finally felt at home. I was willing to work long hours, stay up all night, cry after brutal critiques, and even sacrifice a social life for a discipline that would allow me to use all of my skills and creativity. Architectural school, for the first time, helped me release my inner creativity that was always trying to get out.

My inspiration for becoming an architect, and for producing architecture comes from within. Finding that locus of inspiration within me is the secret to my ambition, my drive, and, in large part, to my success.

Brian Penschow, AIA

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