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So you wanna be an architect?

Aspiring designers learn the not-so-glamorous side

Learn the New Luxury Playbook at Luxury Connect | October 18-19 at the Beverly Hills Hotel

At least once a year, some bright-eyed young student calls me up and, either out of academic compulsion or actual interest, asks to interview me about the architectural profession. I can never say no to these requests, because I had to do the same thing when I was in school. But as much as I try to put a happy face on my profession, when our little chat is over, these kids always seem to leave a bit discombobulated, their image of the architect suddenly not so much "Fountainhead" as Mr. Potato Head. It's certainly not my intent to disenchant them. It's just that many people's preconceptions about the architectural profession are pretty far from reality. The romantic myth of the architect is that of a brilliant loner at the drawing board, conjuring poetic designs with dramatic sweeps of the pencil. And, truth be told, architects seem perfectly happy to sustain this notion: When Frank Lloyd Wright was asked where his creations came from, for example, he mischievous...