Matthew and I sat down recently for a catch-up with Phil Coffey of Coffey Architects in London. We had talked with him in February 2021, and a year later decided to circle around for the latest episode of The Architecture Geeks podcast and find out how the year had treated him and his firm. And amidst the talk of pandemic and Brexit challenges, travel plans, and projects, one comment has stuck with me perhaps more than any other.
Phil mentioned how nice it was to get together again with other architects at the pub they like to frequent. Pre-pandemic discussions about projects over a pint was not uncommon, whether that was with fellow architects, contractors, or tradesmen. His cohorts took that as an opportunity to find out what was happening in the field and in the market outside of a formal office setting or organized event.
All of which made me wonder:
Why don’t American architects have a pub?
I realize that going to the local pub for a pint or two after work is perhaps uniquely British. When James was working in London, the routine for his office mates was leave work, hit the pub, then hop the train home. And if there was any question about the frequency of this routine, they had designated each day by drink.
Except Phil asked how American architects got together to discuss work. And we didn’t have a great answer.
As it turns out, we mostly talk about the business when we attend conferences and local AIA chapter events. Outside of those two options, I can’t recall in 24 years randomly meeting with other architects at a bar to share ideas and swap stories.
Not that we need a reason to have a pint or a cocktail. Or two. Or three. We manage that pretty well without getting together. I will never forget the firm owner coming around at the end of my first week of work ever with wine glasses in one hand and a bottle of red in the other. Only later did I discover the liquor cabinet in the office kitchen.
Of course, we aren’t really set up for simply popping down to the local pub. Meeting someone usually involves a car ride there and then the challenge of getting home. Perhaps if we all lived in urban cores, the idea might be workable.
However, potential alcoholism and DUIs aside, I do like this idea of having our own pub. Or perhaps just the opportunity to casually meet versus being brought together for an event. I think we all have more to share than we have the chance to and are more willing to share than most people think. Coming farther out of the pandemic, perhaps like Phil, we’ll have the opportunity.
Except most likely for American architects, that won’t be at a pub.