Farewell to the Land of Hot Engineers

I’m not kidding.

When I left my practice nearly a year ago – and holy crap! where did the time go? – another architect offered me a home in the office he was sharing with friends.

Now here I am getting ready to head to a new office with a new group of people. And I’m realizing that the people who were his friends have now become my friends, and that I’m going to miss many things.

Miss watching the two accountants running around during tax season, trying to get everything filed and telling some pretty catty stories in the process. Miss being able to pop my head into the therapist’s office for the occasional mental health check.

And miss having the accountants’ assistant make me laugh by asking me to feel her leg. I guarantee you I’m not getting that at the new office. And if I do, the leg is bound to be a lot hairier.

However, there’s something I think I’ll miss even more:

Working in the land of hot engineers.

You heard that correctly.

Hot. Engineers. Two words I’d never in my life think of putting together.

When I think of engineers, I don’t picture hot. I picture ill-fitting pants. Glasses. Pocket protectors. I picture the structural engineer I met one year with enough hair in his ears to make me wonder if he was part werewolf.

Yet within the large engineering firm that shares our floor, I keep bumping into unexpected treats that no one ever told me about.

Did I miss something in college? The engineering building was right next door to the architecture school. Were these guys wandering around and I just never noticed? Is this what I missed by spending late nights hunched over a drafting table? And why have I never been asked to feel one of their legs?

So as I get settled into the new digs, perhaps I’ll find an excuse to pop over once in a while. Say hi to everyone. Get caught up on the latest gossip. Feel a leg.

And if luck is with me, catch a fleeting glimpse of a hot engineer.

Just Me?

Not really but…

I’m the only gay architect in Dallas.

For years, I’ve made that comment even though I know it’s not true. Just based on the law of averages. But also because I do know one or two others.

However, after 20 years in the industry, it still feels that way, primarily because we are not recognized within the architecture community. You have groups like Women in Architecture and Latinos in Architecture. Emerging professionals and young professionals.

And nationally the AIA is really focused on diversity and inclusion. But often that conversation ends before anyone gets to the LGBT community, unless you count the annual LGBT reception at our national convention.

As if that doesn’t make me feel a little isolated…

I received a call in 2014 from a gay couple who needed someone to look at their house. They were having foundation issues and the latest recommendation was to add 22 piers to the existing pier and beam foundation. However, in just looking at the house you could tell that wasn’t going to do anything except flush money down the drain. Ultimately, we designed a new house on the existing lot.

As we were talking in that initial meeting, they expressed how important working with a gay architect was for them, for no other reason than their own personal comfort level. And like a good business owner I asked them how they had located me.

After looking in several guides, one of them had finally turned to Google and typed in: gay dallas architect.

The first name to pop up on the list was Philip Johnson. Pritzker-prize winner. Designed the Beck House in Dallas. Certainly not likely to take on something as simple as this couple’s home.

Plus Philip was also dead.

The second item on Google referenced a blog post my firm had done in 2010 as a follow-up to The Architecture Happy Hour podcast about gays in architecture. And there was my name.

And lucky for me, I was still alive.

So perhaps being the only gay architect in Dallas, or at least the only visibly gay architect in Dallas, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

But really…just me?