Michael Ellars




I am an Architect. I use a capital “A” here to distinguish what I do—designing, detailing, and constructing buildings that preserve the health, safety and welfare of the public—from other more recent dilutions of the title. (“Software architect” indeed.)

I am an Architect. I received my license to practice architecture from the State of California in 2006. This followed eight years of internship, of which two years overlapped the final five years of professional architectural education at the University of Southern California. Prior to college, I took the equivalent of three years of architectural drafting at North Eugene High School, the last two of which were on the computer (AutoSketch and AutoCAD).

I am an Architect. I spent two fascinating years working in forensic architecture, during which time I investigated building defects and developed remediation plans. The investigations ranged from examining construction documents and correspondence to on-site destructive testing. The work was almost always related to litigation. It is an unfortunate aspect of the architecture and construction industry that too many professionals either do not understand what they are drawing or what they are building—or just don’t care. This keeps forensic architects very busy.

I am an Architect. I am also a Certified Access Specialist and LEED Accredited Professional, which means I have specialty certification for disabled accessibility and sustainable design (respectively). I am also a Certified Construction Contract Administrator and Construction Documents Technologist, certifications from the Construction Specifications Institute. I know the various building standards codes very well, and I know how to run a smooth construction phase.

I am an Architect. I see my profession drifting further and further away from the Renaissance ideal of “master builder,” the highest level of creative and scientific endeavor. I often fear that the future of this profession is to be relegated to in-house design duties of large design-build contracting firms. Architects have been ceding our traditional duties for decades, and now we are witnessing the results of that short-sightedness. Powerful new tools such as BIM, which should level the playing field between architects and contractors, also threaten the traditional design process in ways that are still being worked out. The profession will survive, but it will likely be much faster and leaner than it is today.

I am an Architect. A former boss and mentor once expounded that the future of architecture is specialization; there is too much to know in today’s profession, too much complexity, for anyone to be good at everything. While I agree to some extent, I also reject the notion that there is no place for a generalist. Someone must know at least a little about everything to ensure that all of the specialists are working together efficiently and that nothing is overlooked. Notwithstanding my aforementioned specialties, I see myself as just such a generalist.

I am an Architect. There is so much to be excited and optimistic about in the design and construction industry. Despite these hard times, work continues. Design is still a valued commodity. Hope remains high.

I am an Architect.