✱ Rejection is Good for You by Evan Troxel

Rejection is something every person working in a creative field has to learn to deal with if they want to get better at what they do. It's an essential tool that must be learned and put to use, as scary as it is. There are lots of people that think we get to do the "fun" job being the creative. While I would agree about the fun part, there are lots of non-fun aspects to the job that are actually downright terrifying sometimes. It takes a lot of guts to be vulnerable and put your work out there in front of others for it to be judged. Many people overlook this difficult part of the job.

For those of you unfamiliar with a common part of an architect's education, a jury of academics and professionals come together to critique a student's work that has typically been pinned up on a wall for everyone to see. It's called a Crit, which is short for "critique". The Crit is the home of rejection in an architect's life. It's what we do with the rejection is what separates the professionals from the amateurs. 

Wikipedia states:

Criticism is the practice of judging the merits and faults of something (or somebody) in an intelligible (or articulate) way.

  • The judger is called "the critic".
  • To engage in criticism is "to criticise"/"criticize".
  • One specific item of criticism is called "a criticism" or a "critique".

Criticism as an evaluative or corrective exercise can occur in any area of human life.

The Crit

A fairly standard setting of a Crit. This one happens to be at sci-arc. Click to embiggen.

While rejection is definitely not limited to architecture, it's the perspective I'm coming from. Architecture school was and is a good place to learn how to develop a thick skin because of the critiquing process students go through when presenting their projects. It's where we learned how to deal with rejection. Sometimes it was relentless. People cried.

It is the role of the designer to use said criticism to make the next project better as it is probably too late to make the current one any better because there is no time left. Make sure you understand: the goal is to make the project better. It is often a misunderstood method. Most of the time, at least early on, the student takes it personally. They shouldn't.

I always loved how after working tirelessly for weeks on end at a breakneck speed to hear "It was a good first pass" at the final presentation. The irony. 

I've also noticed that we tend to lose touch with the idea of the Crit after school. A lot of times we take it personally because of our inability to separate ourselves from the work. Designers pour their lives into their work and it becomes an extension of them, so it makes sense. Other times it's taken personally because of the inability for some jurors to make a constructive criticism. Some jurors response and/or tone is often demoralizing and full of their own ego. We get to hear all about how they would have done it (so perfectly I might add). This is a problem, but not the point of this article. Those kinds of comments and attacks should be dismissed immediately.

I was sent links to these articles about rejection, and they are very well written so I thought I'd share them. I wish I’d read these years ago during school, but it's great to read them as reminders now. To be able to use rejection and criticism as a tool is a powerful thing. I've included just a small quote from each article but they really are worth reading in their entirety. 

Rejection and the designer by Lisa Shaughnessy:

What are the results of working in a discipline where rejection, and its first cousins, compromise, dilution and modification, are ubiquitous? Does rejection harden ambition and act as a spur to better work? Or does it inject a debilitating toxin into the organs of creative ambition? 
Of course it’s not social rejection that designers fear, but it’s almost as deeply felt, and strikes at the core of what it means to be a creative producer. How designers cope with rejection of their work is fundamental to how they progress and develop as creative practitioners.
And there’s a paradox here for designers: if we wish to avoid rejection we nearly always have to choose blandness, but on the other hand, if we want to make work with depth and resonance, we have to risk rejection. So unless we decide to settle for blandness and cosy consensus, we have to live with the near permanent threat of rejection.

So many great points. I must hold back from quoting more... please go read it for yourself.

And then there's this article coming from the perspective of a writer that easily crosses over into other creative work. The author describes why it's good to get rejected:

Get Rejected by Lisa Carver:

It may say something about you, positive or negative, that your piece (or your love) was rejected, or it may say absolutely nothing at all about you. (Same with having your piece accepted.) Rejection, personally or professionally, is only saying this doesn’t fit here. Maybe it used to, or maybe it would if this and this changed, but right now, as is, no. It may be a case of wrong time, wrong place, or it may be that what you wrote is just plain uninteresting. Some things you write are going to be pretty bad. It’s good to get notice that there’s something more you could be doing, writing, thinking, experiencing. Why be hurt by that? Go do something bigger, go try it.
Once you stop being frightened of saying no, that’s when you can say a real yes when it’s yes. When you stop being frightened of getting told no, that’s when you stop being frightened of their yes not being really yours, and you no longer need to worry over either a yes or a no like a dog with a bone about to be snatched. Get good with rejection, and you’ll be able, finally, to be accepted. And cherished. And celebrated. Every once in a great while. And you’ll know it’s yours.

Even now I use the critique/jury process during the development of my projects. It allows me to get a wide range of alternative perspectives to view my work; a 'fresh set of eyes' as they say. It takes deliberate thought and action for me to make sure I take the crit as potential ideas to make the work better. To not take it personally. It's then my job to weed through the comments and different points of view—to take some to heart and to leave others in a ditch by the side of the road as I speed off and never look back.

We did an Archispeak podcast episode on critique and criticism where we explored the subject more. The comments on the page by some of our listeners are golden.

The bottom line is that the Crit is the important part, and rejection is good for you. It's where you listen, and it's a tool you can use to become better at your craft. Once you figure this out, you actually start looking forward to Crits because they can provide clarity. If they don't, there are two things wrong: You're either not inviting the right people, or you're not doing it right.

Link: By Architects for Architects: Novedge's 10 Favorite Online Resources by Evan Troxel

Both this blog (the one you're reading right now) and another project of mine, the Archispeak podcast were featured in Novedge's latest blog post as a couple of their favorite online resources. I am honored to be in such great company. There were some new ones to me on the list as well. I can't wait to dig in.  


If you have been following Novedge on social media, you know we are big fans of architecture and design. I have had the pleasure to interview and talk personally with some of the best architects who are helping others succeed by sharing their knowledge online. If you are looking for new reading material, want to learn best practices or find inspiration, I highly recommend subscribing to the following blogs and channels by architects, for architects.

Connecting the dots on the internet is one of the real reasons blogs like theirs are such useful tools. They are doing a great service to our architectural community of readers and information seekers by putting together these lists. The Novedge blog is truly a hub of information, and the value they provide makes it worth your time and attention to follow them.

My thanks to Novedge for their support! 


✱ Some Inspiration for Project Undercurrent by Evan Troxel

I'm working on the final details of Project Undercurrent's first community project which will be landing on this blog soon. In the meantime, I present to you the lyrics to Architects by Rise Against. The message is clear: we need to become the masters of our fate.

Here's a taste. Click through for some inspiring writing. 

Do you still believe in all the things that you stood by before?
Are you out there on the front lines, or at home keeping score?
Do you care to be the layer of the bricks that seal your fate?
Would you rather be the architect of what we might create?


Read More

Link: Archispeak 15 - Constraints by Evan Troxel

This new episode is all about constraints: why we need them, if we should use them to tell stories about architecture, and if it is possible to design without them.

I want to personally give a huge thanks to all of our new Friends of the Show who donated to the cause! You all rock, and we couldn't do it without you. 

Oh, and you can now call in and tell us what YOU think. We'd love to hear from you, and we might play your message on the air. Call us:


Link: Archispeak #12 - Permanence in Architecture by Evan Troxel

In this episode of the Archispeak Podcast, Cormac takes a wild ride and ends up at Fallingwater, which leads into a discussion of the permanence in architecture and how we design and specify materials. Are we designing obsolescence into our buildings? Is all architecture meant to be permanent? Join us as we explore these questions and more.

Be sure to check out Cormac's sketch of Fallingwater.  

Also, for anyone that donates at least $5 to help us keep the podcast rolling, we will be reading your name at the beginning of the next episode and make you famous. 



Link: Archispeak makes an appearance on the Business of Architecture Podcast by Evan Troxel

This is part one of the Archispeak crew on the Business of Architecture Podcast.  Part two will be out in the near future.

Enoch Sears: 

In this episode I talk with the creators of the wildly successful podcast that “dares to peek under the architectural kimono” and tell us what architecture is really about. Join Neal Pann, Evan Troxel, Cormac Phalen and I as we discuss social media for architects, architect’s websites, and creating good architecture.

This was a fun podcast and it was great to virtually hang out with Enoch (finally!). I love what he's doing with both his site and podcast.

A little more about Enoch:

The goal of his website is to get architects successfully making money online so that they can concentrate on creating great architecture without the pressure of barely scraping by.

His podcast compliments the site and gives real answers to questions every architect looking to start a firm wants to know. My favorite episodes so far have been with Jonathan Segal, FAIA of Architect as Developer fame, and Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. It's definitely worth subscribing to in iTunes, and I'm happy we were able to be on the podcast amongst other great people who are all helping change the architectural industry for the better.

Give it a listen on iTunes, or watch the Google Plus hangout on the Business of Architecture website



Link: Archispeak #10 - Safety Through Architecture by Evan Troxel

Have you ever wondered what determines the size of the access panel to certain building functions? Bubba knows. 

Here's the latest episode of Archispeak

In this episode Archispeak discusses how architecture can create safer buildings. We examine how schools are designed and retrofitted using technology to make them safer.


Archispeak #7 - We Kill Your Memories by Evan Troxel

A new episode of the Archispeak podcast is online and you can listen to it on the website or on iTunes. This one was the most fun yet to record. I hope you like it as much as I did.

In this episode Archispeak takes on questions from our listeners and a group of 3rd graders. Also, Evan gets his first ‘C’ and Cormac panders to the children of Annapolis.

Archispeak #6 - And Then I'm Very Sad by Evan Troxel

The latest episode of the Archispeak Podcast is up on our site and on iTunes. Neal (who has a new website - check it out) shows his manly vulnerability as we talk about the gap between the professional and educational counterparts in our beloved field of architecture.

Listen in on the conversation and join us by adding your own comments on twitter, our Facebook page, or on our site.  

Now that we have a proven track record for consistently releasing some great content, consider getting your stuff in front of our audience. Get in touch!

Archispeak #4 - Eat, Sleep and Breathe It by Evan Troxel

The fourth episode of the podcast I do is up on the Archispeak website and iTunes. We talk about the latest architectural Jobs Report, the importance of practical experience before graduating with a degree in architecture, what kinds of resumés and portfolios companies look for, and I continue to reveal how badly terrible fonts bother me.

We're always looking for sponsors, so if you think you or your company/service/product would be a good fit for our audience, please get in touch.

Archispeak #3 - An Architect's Library by Evan Troxel

A new episode of Archispeak, that podcast I do, is now up on the website and iTunes. It was a fun show, and I'm happy with our three-show streak. I'm a fan of not merely saying yes to things - it's either hell yeah! or no. This podcast was a hell-yeah for me, and for my co-hosts too. Either commit to doing something because it excites you, or don't do it at all. I hope you like it.

In this episode, we share what's on our architectural library shelves. Cormac dug through his basement and found a treasure-trove of these ancient relics we call books, Neal talks about the great content in Graphic Standards and his love of comic books, and Evan talks about how these resources are just some of the necessary tools everyone who calls themselves an architect should have. 

Join in the conversation and post a pic of your architectural library to twitter using the has tag #architectslibrary and follow us @archispk as well.

Archispeak #2: Architect as Juggler by Evan Troxel

In the latest episode of our casual conversation about the realities of working in architecture:  

We discuss the current state of being an architect versus the old days of the master builder, how architects can educate clients, the importance of sleep in our manic profession, and we begin to tackle the topic of proper planning for the ever-looming deadlines that keep us on the move.

I put a lot more effort into the intro editing of this episode and getting the audio quality up. I hope you like it. Listen to episode #2 of the Archispeak Podcast on the site, or subscribe in iTunes.

✱ Introducing the Archispeak Podcast by Evan Troxel

I've been pretty busy studying for my licensing exams but was able to carve out some time to start a new thing with a couple of other friends from Twitter. It's called Archispeak, and it's a podcast about architecture. No, we don't know what we're doing.

Archispeak is a casual conversation about architecture by people who should never be caught talking about architecture. Think you already know what architecture is all about? Tune in to find out.

I couldn't be happier with our first episode. Neal and Cormac are great guys and I hope you'll find some time in your day to give it a listen and tell us what you think.

You can find us in the usual places online.