Architects Talking to Architects: Nick Jackson, Assoc. AIA

Nick Jackson, Assoc. AIA, is an associate and architectural assistant at PDR in Houston.

Nick Jackson, Assoc. AIA – photo courtesy Nick Jackson

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Cypress, Texas, a bustling suburb in the northwest Greater Houston area. Despite growing up in the suburbs, I proudly claim Houston as my home. I defied the odds by returning to Houston after living a couple of years in Austin to attend The University of Texas (friends and family were astounded that my wife and I would leave Austin for Houston). The truth is, when I moved inside “the Loop” at the age of 18 to live on campus at the University of Houston, I fell in love with this vibrant city. I cannot see myself living anywhere else.

What is your favorite time of year?

Winter. At least, winter in Texas. I don’t know if winter would still be my favorite if it entailed mounds of snow and frigid winds. Texas’ live oaks are so impressive in winter time when other trees around them have lost their leaves. The large, still green, oaks dot the landscape of sparse branches waiting for warmth. Though I love Houston (as professed above), I can’t say that the humidity is always welcome. I love when it cools off, so I can open the windows for fresh air or sit outside for hours with friends (or the dog).

Winter is also a great time of year because of the holidays. There’s nothing more special than coming together with family and friends for dinner, drinks, and warm fires (not to mention exciting football games; where would be without end of season football?!).

Do you have a favorite website or blog that you regularly visit?

I am a Redditor. If I’m not careful, I can very quickly sink a large amount of time into browsing the content and discussions posted in the various subreddits that I subscribe to. The great thing about reddit.com — like many forms of social media — is the speed and freedom with which information travels. I often find news, entertainment, or just interesting knowledge there faster than I would through other mediums. Some of my favorite subreddits include: r/movies, r/design, r/architecture, and r/worldnews. If the format I just presented means nothing to you, think of it like a web URL: www.reddit.com/r/architecture; this how the various subreddits are identified.

Beer, wine, or cocktail — what is your drink of choice?

This is a tough call for me. My gut reaction is to go with beer for its diversities, but I do love a good bourbon on ice. While I have grown to love the subtleties of various ales, lagers, stouts, porters, and malts, I cannot discount the beauty of a well-crafted Old Fashioned for dessert, or just a straight bourbon to wind down the day. For day-to-day drinks, more often than not, bourbon wins; however, if I’m traveling, then I am looking for a new local brew to enjoy.

Nothing says dessert like a well-made Old Fashioned – photo by star5112; Flickr

What type of advice would you offer to young professionals?

Be optimistic and unapologetic. Like many architects and design professionals coming up through school, I heard plenty of the common warnings: “Architects work long hours, get used to it”; “Architects are underpaid and underappreciated”; “If you don’t love this profession, then get out because it’s not worth it.” I found these sentiments to be so sad and disheartening. I couldn’t believe that so many inspiring, talented people would be so self-denigrating and pessimistic about something they love. I have always believed that the profession did not have to be the way they described, and I vowed to never contribute to the undervaluation of our profession.

Since graduating, I have encountered several incredible design firms in Texas that really care about their people — including the one I work for. The work these design offices produce is compelling and reflects the quality of the work environment and self-respect they engender. So, my advice is to not let those pessimistic, and frankly, untrue statements about our profession get to you. Be bold. Be optimistic. Go out into the working world with bright eyes and grand ambition.

Architects aren’t known for their hobbies… Do you have one?

Are they not known for hobbies? It seems to me that architects tend to have some of the most interesting and diverse hobbies due to our eclectic fancies. Many architects are painters, furniture makers, bird-watchers, tinkerers, computer programmers, sculptors, the list goes on… I myself, am an avid PC gamer and world traveler.

The best way for me to unwind and de-stress after a busy day or week is to log on to my computer and play. By changing the games I play frequently, I am constantly challenged to learn the constraints of the problems quickly and find solutions to them. The games, to me, are both stimulating and relaxing, and I would certainly not be the same person without them.

Whenever it is possible, my wife and I take the opportunity to travel and explore our planet. Our most recent adventure took us to Hong Kong, the farthest from home I’d ever traveled. Being an Eagle Scout, I love getting outside and camping when I can. I’m lucky enough to have married a woman that may love camping even more than I do. Whether it’s a road trip through the American Southwest (along with the many national parks along the way) or jet-setting to other continents (I loved seeing Oscar Niemeyer’s work in Brazil), I am always up for the adventure!

My wife and I on our most recent travels to Hong Kong – photo courtesy Nick Jackson

During our road trip across the American Southwest, my wife and I stopped in at Yosemite National Park. – photo courtesy Nick Jackson

"Architects Talking to Architects" is a series on the Texas Society of Architects blog that spotlights members from across the state at different points of development in their career. All participants are given the same set of questions, with instructions to answer any six, giving them the opportunity to highlight the items they feel are most interesting. Is there someone you'd like to see featured in "Architects Talking to Architects"? Email communications@texasarchitects.org to let us know.​