Peter Warren '99

Advanced Degrees: Master of Architecture, University of Michigan ′02

Professional History: I have worked for architecture firms in Alaska, New York City, and Memphis.

Primary Work Responsibilities: Everything! As a one person architecture firm, my responsibilities include everything from business development and authoring contracts to design work and the drafting of construction documents.

How did you start doing what you do today?

I started my own architecture practice in 2012. It was a leap of faith. I′ve had a supportive network of local professionals who have helped immensely.

What have you learned from your time in this profession?

I′ve learned that the more you learn, the more there is left to learn. It’s great because my job never gets old! From anthropology and finance to fine art and physics, it’s all in there.


What is it about your job that motivates you?

Knowing that my work has lasting impacts on people’s lives. A client might spend a lifetime in a house that you’ve designed…or a career in an office building for which you were responsible. That certainly motivates a pursuit of excellence.

A Day in the Life:

I have a small architecture practice, Warren Architecture, in midtown Memphis. One of the best aspects of my job is the diversity of each day and week. On any given day, I might be designing a residential project, meeting with engineers to discuss a commercial building, authoring construction contracts, learning new software, or visiting a job site. There are creative aspects, and there are technical aspects. I enjoy them both.


Although my daily schedule is flexible, the cliché is true - there never is enough time. The most challenging part of my job is working efficiently and prioritization. The architectural process is sometimes organic and sometimes linear - you have to embrace each (and at the appropriate time). Architects have many responsibilities - to the client’s budget, to building codes, to the environment, and to aesthetics. Only when you navigate these can you expect to complete a portfolio of compelling projects and hopefully have some money in the bank at the end of the year.

After graduating from Rhodes, I studied architecture at the University of Michigan. Over the next several years I lived and worked in Juneau, Alaska and New York City. I have worked on projects in India and remote Alaskan villages. These years were adventurous, and my continued professional development through them all was a common theme.

The profession of architecture can be a tough nut to crack. Because our work affects public health, safety, and welfare, architects are state licensed professionals. To be eligible for licensure, candidates need a degree from an accredited college of architecture, approximately three years of qualifying internship experience, and then must pass a series of seven licensing exams. In recent years there have been moves to streamline the process, so it’s evolving.

Architecture is a great profession, and I really love the process. But for the sake of my wife and two young children, I try to keep my work out of the house. This can be a challenge. During busy spells this rule sometimes keeps me out of the house. My office is one mile from home, and I sometimes head back after dinner when project schedules demand it (“work close to home” is the best advice you’ll ever get). Balancing work and family time is a constant riddle, but for a small business owner it’s a good problem to have.

Looking back, I think Rhodes helped teach me how to learn, to think critically, and to approach problems with a broader view. I owe a debt of gratitude to many mentors, but especially to Jim Williamson, FAIA (‘68). He helped nurture an early interest in the profession while I was a student and is still a good friend today.