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Architecture from an Outside Perspective

My name is MacKenzie Witzke. I began working for Gordon & Associates, now Agora Architecture, in March of 2014. My prior work experience was completely unrelated to the building and design industry. Being hired into this industry at a young age as an office administrator has taught me many lessons. Growing up, some want to be the President or an astronaut because these are careers and positions that youngsters hear about and look up to. Although there are less, there are some children that want to grow up and become an Architect. It is one of those careers that in the eyes of some may seem prestigious. Many times, the career is seen as a place that you can quickly get through school and then make a ton of money with just a Bachelor’s degree. Coming into the industry I certainly had a similar perception, although by this point I knew that not everything was as it seemed. My husband and I are also pastors and anytime we are introducing ourselves to people as such we also tell them about our day jobs. People’s eyes widen and they make some sort of exclamation that signifies they are impressed with my place of work. I am, of course, proud to work with the people that I do and I enjoy my job greatly, but I always explain to them that the Architects are normal people who live normal lives.

The first thing I learned was that Architects (in general) are normal people. My experience in this industry, 4 years later, is certainly not vast and is limited to small town Kansas. However, another lesson I learned is that while we are an office of 5 and located in a small town, this does not impact our potential to do really incredible architecture. But, being an un-educated citizen, I put Architects in a category with Doctors and Lawyers. Doctors because I thought Architects were rich and Lawyers because I thought they charged people astronomical hourly rates and there was no reason for it. Truth be told, Doctors and Lawyers deserved more credit than what I gave them as well – who knew. Don’t get me wrong, the Architects I know have food on the table and are able to take great care of their families, but in the same breath they are humble and hardworking people.  

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Another perspective that I have gained in the past 4 years, is that of the value of an Architect. We tend to complain about what we do not know much about. It is common for someone to complain about our Police Officers, or Governing bodies of any kind. But in this industry you specifically hear complaints about building codes and the fact that you need stamped architectural plans at all. I have learned that the people in this office are truly just doing their jobs. Building Codes (chosen by our local governments to protect the public and make our cities nice) define standards that buildings have to be built and maintained by. As Architects, we actually enable building owners to provide a functioning, safe, legal and accessible environment for a business to function. Of course it isn’t fun to spend money on widening a hallway when you would rather be repainting the exterior for cosmetic reasons. But, we like to think that we are helping you widen that hallway in the easiest way possible, since it is required.

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I have learned more than I could mention here, but to wrap up I want to share one more thought. That is that architecture is not all glamorous, rotating, open floor concepts and funky furniture - although this stuff is really neat. Architecture is often times about taking a small budget and making the most out of every dime. It is about something that was once beautiful but is now dilapidated and in ruins and restoring it to mint condition. Architecture affects the lives of handicapped individuals as well as individuals who know someone who is handicapped, as we help people make their facilities more ADA Accessible. I believe, as many others do as well, that without Architecture, the world wouldn’t look the same. I know for a fact that Winfield, Kansas wouldn’t look the same. The hundreds of homes completed by William Caton, the Courthouse done by Don Potter, the Medical Pavilion done by Merrill Gordon, T.H.Vaughan Tennis Complex done by David Herlocker, the Cowley County South Annex done by Cheri Hulse, the Southwestern College Library Coffee Shop done by Karen Klein and many more! These are places where thousands of feet travel, where business is conducted and community is made. None of them would be here without Architects and more specifically without our local architects.

 
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I am thankful to be a part of this team, this community and this industry. If you are in need of an Architect, I know the best around.

Written by MacKenzie B. Witzke, Business Manager at Agora Architecture