The Culture of Questions

The hair on my head is graying; some parts are much grayer than others now. I hope that someday you have the same problem. Maybe you are already there. For me, this means that I have been doing architecture since my graduation when dinosaurs roamed the earth (not really), and this much I have learned: I do not know everything, and I am confident that neither do you. And that is perfectly normal.

This state of not knowing everything should keep us humble, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t know important things, both collectively and individually. Some of us are even experts in specific areas. In most architecture firms, there are experts around every corner. We all come from different backgrounds and experiences. In this industry we have many experiences in common, but many of us bring experiences and perspectives that are unusual; we can all learn from these unique perspectives. Having a variety of voices at the table makes us better architects and better people.

I also know something else: everyone wants you to succeed in this career. We root for our coworkers, we take pride in our young staff members (all staff members, in fact), and we want our work as architects to be excellent for our firm and for our clients. Our success, both individual and collective, depends on collaboration: we are made better when we work together. Since neither you nor I can know everything, we must always be asking questions, and those questions are essential to our process.

As designers and as people, we are made better by a culture of questions. A culture of questions allows our knowledge to drip and disseminate from person to person; a culture of questions helps us to develop our own expertise as we explain the answers to each other. Someone once asked me if I could write down everything that I know about architecture. (It seemed like an impossible request, but he was dead serious.) Impossible or not, I do attempt to share what I know through teaching, mentoring, and freely answering questions and by posing some questions, too. Collaboration occurs across all levels and in all directions.

Your past, present, and future experiences will develop your expertise. Maybe this happens through the newest software program or your most recent experience with the AHJ or Code Department or Green Globes or LEED. Maybe your expertise is your recent experience on the professional examinations such as ARE or NCIDQ. Keep asking questions. Keep seeking the answers. Know that you are not alone. Know that your colleagues want you to succeed, and that the answers to most problems are just a question or two away. It is how we keep growing. It is how our expertise continues to develop and expand by cultivating our culture of questions. What questions are you asking today? With whom can you share your expertise today?

About David

David Loy is responsible for all Operations and Financial Management in the Charlotte Office. He also heads the Enterprise Studio that has delivered some of the firm’s most complex projects that require large integrated A/E-Owner-Contractor teams. As an LS3P leader, he possesses analytical and artistic qualities essential for designing facilities as well as leadership qualities for resourcefulness and good decision making.

David excels at helping his clients navigate the design and construction process.  He believes that it is an honor and privilege to be invited into a client’s world to help them solve problems, be a part of the solution, and help them to realize their vision, and he strives to build successful relationships that result in a winning, teamwork-based building experience. With a Master of Architecture from Clemson University, David’s diverse portfolio includes academic projects such as Johnson & Wales-Charlotte, corporate commercial projects such as the headquarters for Lowe’s and Electrolux, high-rise construction, retail projects at all scales, academic designs, and healthcare projects for major medical systems.