What is Coffee with an Architect?

I started this site as a way to reach out to people in the community. I thought that a virtual a cup of coffee would be a low pressure way to meet and discuss our shared ideas, passions, and vision for the profession.

Then, at some point, I went a different way with it.

Enjoy the angst.


Jody Brown, AIA Leed AP, Husband, Dad, awesome cook, banjo player

INFILL,  PLLC – 2532 WRIGHTWOOD AVENUE, DURHAM, NC. 27705 – 919.624.6007

Jody Brown, AIA, Leed AP BD+C is an Architect running his own firm (Jody Brown Architecture, pllc.) in Durham, NC. His work focuses on urban infill projects, mixed-use, urban design, and urban renewal. Over the last 18 and half years, he has built on his passion for planning and urban design, and, has worked on enhancing, adding to, re-using, renovating, and sometimes creating from scratch the places where people meet, learn, play, and become inspired. His work is grounded in the belief that Architecture can save cities. When he’s not doing that, he can be found making fun of himself and his profession, and blogging about his ideals at – Coffee with an Architect. Or, you can find him sipping coffee with someone at a cafe near you, blathering on and on about Le Corbusier, while looking aloof and interesting at the same time somewhere over in the corner. In other words, he’s just an Architect, standing in front of an ideology, asking it to love him.

Shall I go on?

my company website here

my resume here

my portfolio here

my sketching blog here

my work on Architizer here

follow me on Twitter here

become a fan on Facebook here

join me on Linkedin here

email me here


  • Tina Govan

    Hi Jody!

    Finally an architect with a sense of humor! I love it! Humor might be the only thing that will save us from the traps of a profession that often takes itself too seriously.

    Thanks for the breath of fresh air!

  • Hi Tina!
    Thanks, just doing what I can, well actually I could do more,… I really should do more, shouldn’t I?, maybe I will….sometime…. maybe later

  • Iveeleague

    hi so i came across your blog while reading some interesting topics from the life of an architect. I’m a young architect from the Philippines, and currently there’s this bill about making the civil engineer the prime professional of the design and construction industry. this bill also seeks to allow the civil engineers sign and seal the architectural plans. What is your opinion in this issue? and could you make a snippet of angst regarding this? 
    Thank you very much. Thank you for your blog.

  • You’re welcome for my blog…
    Civil Engineers sealing architectural plans definitely deserves some angst!

  • Life imitates CWAA:  http://imprint.printmag.com/daily-heller/in-cube-we-trust/

  • Gosner

    Also:  Modesto International Architecture Festival happening soon:  http://modestoarchfest.com/

    If by some chance you make it to Modesto ever, let me know and I’ll buy you the best coffee/espresso you’ve ever had at Serrano Social Club http://sproforthemo.com/

  • Chris Harris

    Hi Jody,

    A friend emailed me the “Architect’s Dress Code” blog today and I realized the author’s name sounded familiar. I worked at Cline around 2005-2006 in the housing studio with you.

    Anyway, congrats on striking out on your own and great blog…

    By the way, I found out that, sadly, I do not dress as an Architect should.

    Chris Harris, RA

  • Nadia Bezdikian Chrysouliotou

    Interesting chat,,,and with humor,,,a nice change :)

  • Thanks Nadia!

  • Holla Chris! 
    Cline? What? I have totally blocked that time out of my mind.
    And, You should really think about your outfit. Seriously, look at yourself

  • Tom Clark

    I’ve been practicing architecture almost 50 years.  I started poor, made some money, invested it and then lost it all.  I think I’ll make more, but I sometimes wonder.  If I don’t, that’s okay.  At times I’ve had no clients.  At times I’ve had many clients.  Good ones and bad ones.  Important ones and just ordinary folks that needed an architect.   I have architect-friends my age who have not had the fortune or the chance to build  the great projects that I’ve had.  And, I’ve had other friends that have had more fortune than I have had, and have had the chance to build greater projects than I have. I’m now in my 70’s.  My office has downsized due to the economy.  We haven’t had an exciting commission since last year when two great ones were stopped due to lack of funding. It’s a Sunday today.  I came to the office before returning home to watch football. Why do I come to the office on Sunday?  For the same reason I come to the office most days:  I have FUN here.  I enjoy doing most of what architects do.  It continually intrigues and challenges me.  I get satisfaction meeting those challenges.   I got a note today from a client thanking me for helping her.  I hadn’t expected it but they come now and then. That’s about all the external validation I’ll probably get for the near future.  I don’t do this for thank you notes or design awards, although sometimes we get them.  Actually I do what I do BECAUSE IT PLEASES ME.  It isn’t important why it pleases me, or even which parts please me. You may love Architecture but Architecture might not please you for the same reasons it pleases me. I find designing to be fun.  I hope I can practice until I’m 110 and then just die in my sleep.  If you don’t come to your office because you enjoy it, this probably isn’t the right field for you.  It’s too hard and too much harassment and work to deal with if you don’t find it fun.   If you need money or fame or outside validation, you may get a taste of those, but they seldom last.  Architectural fashion can be fickle.  No…the reason to do this business that we do is totally INTERNAL.  The architects who stay in the profession will tell you that, in spite of the frustrations, they keep doing it because they like doing it.  If you don’t like doing what architects do, I seriously suggest you DO find what pleases you.  Then, fill your life with that activity.  That way, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. If you love doing architecture, do it to please yourself. But, if you don’t like doing it, stop!  Start doing something else that pleases you more. 

  • sonal khandelwal

    really impressed with your writings in architecture need a slogan, very well written!

  • Tom

    Making civil engineers the prime professional on an architectural project is like putting the waiters in charge of the restaurant.  Architects design.  Engineers engineer.  Designing is broader, more inclusive, and takes more education and variety of skills. First we design a building.  Then we engineer it.  Not the other way around.  There are exceptions, like Calatrava or Nervi, but more engineers are not inventive enough, or even interested in leading a design team.  Of course, a good percentage of architects shouldn’t be practicing either, but that’s another issue.

  • Loutre

    Architect does not = Artist.  Just sayin….

  • gajen

    LOL I am thrilled to know my DH is not the only Architect with a sense of Humor. Keep up the Angst.

  • Thangst!

  • well…. duh

  • Ali Arsalan Pasha

    Loving this website… I think it’s a wonderful thought, to reach out… Architects need to engage! Very well done Jody!

  • hen_ka

    any time there is more than one architect on a project, it is a conflict of opinions: “if it were ME, I would have done it like this…”
    a bit like too many cooks in the kitchen.

    ergo, a Disaster of Architects.

  • lousanne

    Thank you, your post was really refreshing, reminded me of my few but good professors in Arch School… can I share this on FB?? we young architects need to read stuff like this… just to know that after 50 years, you can have a successful career even if most of us don’t turn out to be world-famous

  • wrad Tuttuh

    I love coffee just as much as I love architecture being an architect myself. As the saying goes, Its all fair in love… and so architecture never really loved me in the place that I call home now. It is hard to literally educate the community about the professions and the fees. Its not as rewarding though to be practicing in the US where I worked for 2 firms in NYC and my last one in CC, TX for about 4 years before the second recession hit america hard.

    I will start the architectural revolution here, myself and alone. 

    keep blogging on your great site.

  • innovatioNS

    I’m a student of architecture in Boston.  I have to say, your site is spot on, I love it.  With endless hours of studio on my hands I sometimes need to step away, grab a cup of coffee, and read your blog.  I want to thank you for keeping me smiling at 4am!

  • Bjoern from Germany

    Hi Jody,
    i ve no idea if you know, your postcard action as been as an article in the newsletter of a big german magazine called “Detail”. So i thought i let you know!
    So i, as a young german architect in germany, got to your blog, cause i loved that title. So different and relaxing! Not like all this other…boring…average informative or “cool” stuff. The way you write it makes it personal where i enjoy it, no matter if your share opinion. So you see how far your stuff reached out 😉 A refreshing way to do this thing. Funny enough, i write mails to my collegues, when architecture strikes my mind some way. They say they love my writing and comparisons. But i never made it a blog.
    I just did it to ease my mind and practice my speech and ability to express 😉
    Good thing your webshop also. There isnt many architecture shirts out there. I used to have
    a spreadshirt shop too, but only printed my own shirts in what i liked :)
    Im only saying this cause i can identify well on some levels and i find it great you put it into practice. Hope your blog gets a big name! Get ppl to write on and for it :)
    Much more fun to read it with a cup of coffee :) For no matter what occasion.
    You know, Angst is german and means “fear” ? :) Whatever it was supposed to mean.
    I know there s a lot of germans in NC, ive been there 12 years ago.
    Anyway, thanks a lot, very enjoyable and inspiring :)

    Cheers from Germany :) Bjoern

  • Olu

    Hi, am architect in Nigeria and a lot of what you saying resonates here in the architecture pofession. I dont drik coffee hough, more a tea kinda guy, i do enjoy your blog though! keep it up.

  • C.

    I’m a baby architect, qualified about 10 years ago. I find I know less and less with every passing year about the profession and more about the kind of spaces that I wish I could build. I hate -with some passion- the bureaucracy of winning work in the public sector (that could so easily have been a rather fitting spelling mistake 😉 ) I wonder where the profession will be in another 10 years.
    Loving your blog. 

  • Agnieszka Kamont

    Tom Clark.thank you

  • Lekshe

    IS AWESOME!! On a related note, I don’t know what “awesome” means, also
    a little fuzzy on the meaning of “architecture”

    i am quite fuzzy, i find, on the meaning of “is”

  • Rocky Racoon

    did you mean “is just an Architect” or “is a just Architect”? — inquiring minds want to know!

  • Mtkishbaugh

    Thank you for brightening my day–and thanks to Houzz, too, for introducing me to your writing!

  • archifruit

    But ONLY architects are funny. Dont you think?

  • alexis12

    I am currently in eleventh and have taken up science. So is it necessary to know physics for architecture. I am not sure about science so how do I decide if I should continue with science or not???

  • Tom Clark

    Hi Alexis,
    Physics explains principles and ideas like “gravity”, and “vectors,” which one has to understand in order to understand how most schools teach structural engineering, which is about learning how to make buildings that won’t fall down or blow over. Personally, I had a miserable time with physics and managed to forget most of it in short order. Later, as a sophomore in college, I had to take college physics at a school that stressed learning physics with mathematics (calculus) which, after physics was my least favorite subject. Still, I managed to blunder through and I did become an architect. As I got older and more frankly, more mature, I became became interested in mathematics purely because I found what it can do to be fascinating. I wound up, as an adult, taking a number of advanced math courses just for fun. The more math I understood, the easier I found physics. As a young student, science bored me. But I love science today; it’s fundamental to understanding our universe–from the building blocks of matter that are too small to see, to the solar system and beyond.
    I don’t use physics, or even much math in my day-to-day life as an architect. I do understand structures, and I use that information regularly, although I hire a structural engineer to back up my structural work on routine structural projects, or on anything that requires serious conceptual structural thinking.
    In the world you’ll live in, science–including the world of information technology and applied computer applications–is going to be important. You won’t be able to avoid it in any field of study. So, I’d suggest that you take as much science and math as you can, and follow your curiousity wherever it leads, whether you become an architect or not.
    What led me to architecture personally was art…specifically, I loved to draw from about the time I was four. Drawing is what we did, on this stuff called “tracing paper” in the days before SketchUp, and other computer programs that are moving toward replacing drawing. To be totally honest with you, what architects do day-to-day in most large and small offices today, is probably not at all what they’ll be doing when you’re 50. If you were my grandson, I’d suggest that you take all the math and science you can, but before you choose a career path, do some serious study into how the computer is changing that career. In 1956, I was told architecture would be one of the best careers to choose.
    But…NPR had a recent show that rated architecture #2 behind “print journalism” as the least promising career choice for high school students today.
    Good luck. These are exciting times. Follow your heart. If you work at what you truly love–as I have, for over 50 years–you’ll find that you never have to work a day in your life!

  • Tomi

    Dear Jody/fellow readers,
    you`ve got an inspiring blog.I just noticed it and I must say it made my day.
    I`m 3rd year student of architecture (BSc. Programme) in Europe.
    I would like to ask a few things though.What are the advantages of art inclined architecture schools over technically inclined schools who know all the programs for parametric arch. etc in the practice, rather in reality?
    I currently study in a technical school and I`m considering moving over to an art school for my masters.
    Secondly, my dream is to be an architect ever since I was 4, seeing my dad`s drawings on paper, I traced them… However, the architecture profession is more challenging today.
    I would really appreciate any tips as to how to have an architecture studio some day.
    Thanks a lot!

  • Oh! Didnt notice the black coffee mug in front of the black shirt! Thought you were gonna punch me right in the face! My bad!

  • Maha Malik

    hello im 16 and i aim to become an architect within the next 5-6 years. there is something about the idea of this profession and the permanence of the products of your labour that makes it seem intriguing.

    just putting that one out there ~

  • Yes they exist – Architects with a sense of humor and not just ego. We like this 😉


  • Would it be ok if I shared this please? You speak great truth and wisdom, which is refreshing for us architects to hear amidst the troublesome times ahead.

  • shervin

    Hi darling, I am so glad I am a student of architecture at each other and we love to pass on information to
    I’m waiting for you

  • shervin

    Hi darling, I am so glad I am a student of architecture at each other and we love to pass on information to
    I’m waiting for you

  • Jody – Thanks for the flashback(s) and the laugh !!!!

  • Paul Gensler

    Jody, We had a “spirited” email exchange about a year ago, after a ‘few emails’ I sent you. I wanted to reach back out and commend you on an AWESOME blog (I found it via Twitter — didn’t even realize I was following you) and COOL marketing ideas that I’ve enjoyed reading this morning. I’d love to introduce myself to you in person, buy you a cup of real coffee, and possibly share a few thoughts. My email address is PaulGensler@WindowRep.com — I hope you can spare a few minutes in the upcoming weeks. Thanks for considering my invitation. PG