Dossier

Raymond Bowman, Assoc. AIA

You may have to ask a dumb question. It's ok.

By Posted on June 12, 2014

w-Land-RBowmanName: Raymond Bowman, Assoc. AIA
Family: Married
Years in practice: 6
Education: B.Arch., Carnegie Mellon University
I belong to the AIA because: I like the friendships I’ve made and participating in the events I’ve heard about through the organization. Some people call this “networking”.
What’s the best part of your job? As a young architect, it’s great to be involved in all phases of a project.
What would you change about your job? More time outside. I’d settle for more time not immediately in front of a computer screen.
Most embarrassing moment: I tore my pants right before a meeting with a client and, to cover it, wore a woman’s sweater around my waist, making the attempt to hide the tear arguably more embarrassing than just owning it.
What’s the most annoying thing architects do? Take credit for all the good things architecture can do (thoughtful and efficient design, green building advocacy) without taking responsibility for the problems it has helped to cause (suburban sprawl, buildings unable to adapt).
What have you always wanted to tell your clients? I know you think that rendering is great, but wall sections are pretty awesome, too.
If you hadn’t become an architect, what would you have been? In chronological order: depressed, barista, sketch comedy writer, Youtube sensation, depressed, barista, taco truck tycoon.
Best gift to give an architect: A French press, some good coffee, a framed blueprint of a cool old building, and a Frank Lloyd Wright Lego kit. My birthday is October 14.
Favorite outdoor space: McConnell’s Mill State Park.
Favorite city: That I’ve visited? Chicago.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where? Norway. I haven’t been yet, but it fits conceptually. I like night time, cold weather, public education and rigorous, logical design.
Where you live in Pittsburgh and why you think it’s great? Millvale, for its walkable business district of specialty shops among other great attributes. It’s also (contrary to common myth) not far away.
Someday I’d like to: Have the means to do more international travel.
Something you’d like to learn how to build with your own hands: Cast concrete sink.
What’s on your iPod/Pandora/Spotify? Like any good architect, I’ll give you a good cross-section: Alabama Shakes, Cake, Daft Punk, The Decemberists, Girl Talk, Hayes Carll, Jack White, Nicole Atkins, Randy Newman, Rilo Kiley, Sleigh Bells, The Ting Tings.
Favorite Kennywood ride: Thunderbolt for raw enjoyment, Jackrabbit for fun-to-wait time value.
Architect you’d like to have a drink with: Rem Koolhaas.
Favorite architecture book: Favorite is tough, so instead I’ll just mention two that I’ve read recently that were thought-provoking: How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand, and The Geography of Nowhere by James Howard Kunstler. I like that they are critical of the profession, and the main ideas of these books informed my answer to the “most annoying” question above.
Architectural quote to practice by: “A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his client to plant vines.”
Advice to young architects: Try to understand everyone’s point of view. Everyone on a project has a different skill set and may have to ask a dumb question or have something explained 3 or 4 or 5 times. This includes you. It’s OK.

Ray Bowman is also a frequent contributor to Columns and writes one of AIA Pittsburgh's Spotlight Blogs, Architecture Made Accessible.

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