I read something in an article recently. I can’t remember where I read it, and I apologize to the author for the lack bibliographic inclusion. The premise of this non-cited article is that extroverts draw energy from engaging with others, whereas introverts find interactions with others draining.
If architecture is at the crossroads of art and science, then likewise, I believe for an architect to be successful, he or she must be both an introvert and an extrovert. I spend most of my days in exuberant extroversion, surrounded by people, and drawing energy from our community of friends, colleagues, clients and contractors. Yet when working creatively, I find just as frequently, a need to draw (pun intended) from within myself. Similarly, some members of our DFA team are outgoing, others are guarded, and both personalities are welcome and essential. With our introverts, we work on their social skills; with our extroverts, we work on their focus. and train their ability to tune out the din around them.
A number of summers ago, we hosted a high school student intern from China. He only interned for a short while, and I can neither remember his name nor even his particular strengths and weaknesses, any more than I can remember the article that launched this post. And yet, I do vividly recall one particular exchange. I hadn’t had a chance to spend much time with him during his internship, and on a subway ride back to the office after a site meeting, I asked if he had any questions for me. He pondered for a bit, and then said in a very quiet voice, “Mr. Frisch, do you have to talk so much to be an Architect?” For a moment at least, I was at a loss for words.