13 Twitter Accounts [maybe not] Every Aspiring Architect Must Follow


Recently NCARB published a list of the 13 Must Follow Twitter Accounts for Aspiring Architects which I was happy to find had some of my favorite twitter friends on it including the inimitable storytelling of Bob Borson, and the prolific business insight of Enoch Sears.  That said, aside from this dynamic duo, it’s a pretty vanilla list.  You could throw in quite a few others with that, including Mark R. LePage and Jeff Echols who also write on the business of architecture, or  Marcela Abadi Rhoads who posts excellent content on Barrier Free Design,  Cherise Lakeside, the #CSIKracken engaged in specification and project delivery, Tabitha Ponte who is laser focused on creating a new education paradigm, or even Randy Deutsch dissecting the digital, and the data behind the design.  Call me a maverick, but networking tips from AIAS and updates from NCARB aren’t why I got into architecture.  Inspiration, agitation, disruption…twitter is a chaotic crucible of thought and provocation, a place to connect with one or thousands.  Here’s my version of this list.  I hope that it will get your design blood flowing:

01Primary to this list is Darran Anderson aka @Oniropolis who posts in almost desolate lugubriousness on “The fictions we inhabit”.  From the failed utopian works of the great masters to the presumptuous imaginings of science fiction writers, there is a lot of where we’ve been, and where we are going in his posts, but most importantly, where we thought we were going.  It is a brilliant viewpoint on our world and what it can and should, or possibly should not, become.  He’s also written an archaic paper book entitled Imaginary Cities  which was “Inspired by the surreal accounts of the explorer and ‘man of a million lies’ Marco Polo…” and “..charts the metropolis and the imagination, and the symbiosis therein.”

01I’m a fan of not getting too insular within the profession when it comes to new ideas, and Fast Company’s Design team at @FastCoDesign does a brilliant job of touching many different facets of how design happens.  From posts like “4 lessons designers can take away from Pixar’s design process” to “The robot-constructed, modular housing for life on Mars”, Fast Company finds an impressive array of design points to feature and access across a myriad of different disciplines.  It’s at the intersections between these different silos of design that I find the most fruitful idea ferment.

01Matt Kleinmann is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Kansas SAUD who tweets under the handle of @mattk2.  A former walk-on basketball player for Kansas, Matt took this unique experience and his architecture degree to Populous/HOK Sport and has come out of that product type disillusioned with big, flashy designs that support the prideful vision of the few, and now fights to educate and create design that empowers the many.  He is passionate about urban renewal and community development and actively fights to ford their schism with public policy and citizen engagement.

01I really dig eclectic passions, especially when they involve brutalism.  The Brutal Artist [@TheBrutalArtist] is an engaging individual who posts beautiful and provocative illustrations from her sketchbook which largely focus on architecture, but also tend to willfully meander about into tangential spaces.  Nothing casts a shadow like brutalism, and her sketches bear that out in dramatically stylistic ways.  From there she dances into dabbles of retro art, vintage rOtring sets, and a witty artistic banter that is singularly refreshing on the net.

01Posting “A daily image in monthly themes around architecture, landscape, photography, art installations and interventions” as @cosmic_i_cloud, Willie Miller offers a brilliant regular dose of architectural photography.  Often themed, his postings resurrect the past and build a broad morphological narrative that is always engaging.  Interestingly, this is sort of a two-for-one because posting in his personal account, @williemiller, you can get an extra dimension into his work and the world around him, always from an unique perspective.

01A very tangible resource for the emerging professional can be found in the Archispeak Podcast which tweets under the name @archispk.  While it’s really more the podcast itself than the Twitter interaction that’s the content value here, the three founder of the podcast Evan Troxel [@etroxel], Cormac Phalen [archy_type] and Neal Pann [@npann], are intelligent, witty, talented and engaging design professionals.  Think of the podcast as an introduction to a dialogue that you can always continue to explore.  This isn’t the online version of a self help book, or top ten list of ‘Traits Every Leader Should Embody’…no, this is a casual and candid conversation about the industry, our place in it, and the fun, frustrating, and sometimes absurd reality that is just being an architect.

01NextCity [@NextCityOrg] is an incredible resource about not just design, but the people living in that design.  Buildings aren’t just a structure on a piece of dirt, they are an integral part of a community and the process by which they weave their way into that social fabric, or disrupt it, is just as important.  Both as an aggregator of content and a producer of original observations, it informs about all things from public policies to urban prototypes.  Knowledge is a powerful tool, and the journalists at NextCity see it as their mission to “inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities through journalism and events around the world.”

twitterlogoSEED Magazine [@seedmag] is an incredible source for interesting topics scattered across technology and design.  With features like Design’s greatest potential is to serve as a tool for policymaking, governance & social change and The Revenge of Comic Sans: Do bad fonts promote better recall of information? the main thrust of it’s journalism may well shoot wide of the mark if you’re strictly looking for architectural content.  However, the targets overlap with almost anything in the larger design world and offers constantly evolving and provocative content that architects should take notice of, if not at least find humor in.

01From Lebbeus Woods’ jarringly invasive sketches of Underground Berlin to musings on the Dark Contents of Your Mind to retro futurisms like More Leisure for Man in the Atomic Age, Maddd Science [@MadddScience] is a refreshing departure from the normal.  Laced heavily with pulp science fiction and darkly facetious themes, Maddd Science isn’t for everyone, but I really enjoy the cataclysmic break from the banal he offers.  For me, sometimes the best medicine to achieve a breakthrough in my design, or find a new perspective to approach a problem, comes from disassociating myself from the myriad of simulacrum architectural media sources and immerse myself in raw imagination.

01I hate ‘trendy’, but Trendhunter [@trendhunter] is a brilliant resource to follow the fluid and constantly evolving nature of design across a myriad of mediums.  More than just offering holiday gift buying ideas for the design professional (although it’s great for that too) the site offers quirky takes on a variety of architectures like Stylish Structural Beams, Rainbow-Hued Community Pavilions or Asymmetrical Mosaic Staircases.  It allows the reader to zero-in on architecture specifically, or just peruse the genre and stumble on surprising content.  Our firm’s design has to be at the forefront of resident trends, and I’ve found it a very relevant design tool.

01Whether your installing a #tacticalurbanism environmental intervention or seed bombing that razor wire ringed empty lot next door in a fit of #guerillagardening activistm, Team Better Block [@TheBetterBlock] is a great resource to see grass roots urban design movements worldwide.  Founded by Jason Roberts (who really just wanted a bike lane in his neighborhood), the group has been at the forefront of the pop-up & temporary urban revisionings that have challenged municipalities and communities to make their cities better.

01Michael Eliason is the self described ‘design czar and blogmaster general’ for the firm Brute Force Collaborative, a practice specializing in residential design, Passivhaus consulting, and sustainability.  Tweeting at @bruteforceblog, Michael posts extensively on subjects that touch the urban fabric, and affect the built environment of our communities.  A combination of copious amounts of development data,  far reaching design research, and a healthy dash of editorial, Michael is a refreshing voice on a social media landscape where it can be very difficult to sift through to good, usable information.

bc_squarebuildingcommunityWORKSHOP is a “nonprofit community design center seeking to improve the livability and viability of communities through the practice of thoughtful design and making”.  Posting at @bcWORKSHOP, the group is a community advocacy focused organization which seeks to improve the conditions of all.  With involvement in everything from activism, to architecture and construction, to the archiving of citizen stories, bcWORKSHOP is at the bleeding edge of change in many forgotten or neglected communities.

See, doesn’t that get your creating soul fired up again?  Cheers.


10 2015
  • http://businessofarchitecture.com/ Enoch Sears

    Jonathan – a great and well-informed response to the NCARB article!

    You uncovered some goodies for me that I wasn’t aware of (as well as my already faves – @entrearch, @jeff_echols, @randydeustch and @archispk).

    Also – thanks for the nice but un-needed ego boost at the beginning. 😉

    Keep up the great content.

  • http://proto-architecture.com/blog/ Jonathan Brown

    I’m glad you stumbled on some new ones. That was the whole point of the exercise. You’re very welcome, cheers!