you can't win them all
how architects cope with rejection.
Source: residential architect Magazine
Publication date: July 1, 2007
By Cheryl Weber
Edward Hodges, AIA, a principal at DiMella Shaffer in Boston, recalls
his firm's recent unsuccessful bid for work on a college residence hall.
During the interview the architects had made a joke about something, and
whether or not it tipped the scale, they later heard that the selection
committee didn't think the architects knew them well enough to joke
around. “I'm a pretty relaxed guy and always thought humor was good,”
Hodges says. “If that didn't seem right to them, then maybe we weren't a
Equally confounding was New York City architect Frances Halsband's
experience interviewing for a dormitory project years ago at an Ivy
League university. She got the job and later became friends with a
member of the review panel. When she asked why her firm was chosen, he
replied, only half-jokingly, that he didn't know anything about
architecture; he just picked the guy with the nicest tie. “Talk about
not taking it personally,” says Halsband, FAIA, a partner in R.M.
Kliment & Frances Halsband Architects. “We've got a partner with a
really nice tie, we've got an asset.”
Rejection—whether personal or professional—is painful, and for
architects it's par for the course. In the human drama that accompanies
the interview process, everything is up for grabs, from political savvy
and presentation skills to the cut of a suit. When you're competing
against like-minded peers, the underlying reason for the turndown may be
elusive or, like the tie incident, totally subjective. Or it may be
crystal clear: Your firm isn't big enough, it lacks experience in a
given project type, or there's a mismatch of ideas or personalities.
While young architects feel the pain the most, those who've lived
through a spate of rejections have learned to move on with grace, good
humor, and often, relief.