Mike Riscica lives in top floor of the Biltmore, a classic early twentieth century apartment block in the Alphabet Soup area of Portland; an appropriate place for a young architect. Within minutes of my arrival, Mike grabbed a Car-2-Go a block away and whisked me downtown to visit Michael Grave’s famous Portland Building, the first significant Postmodern building. “I live in like a five mile bubble.” Mike explained as we strolled back toward his flat, stopping along the way for dinner, then drinks. Mike’s from New York City, and his life in Portland is laced with the attributes we assign to New York hipsters, without The Big Apple’s hassles.
Since architecture school, Mike’s worked for small design firms and the City of Portland. The weekend we met he’d just given notice. At age 35, he was striking out on his own. Although he will likely continue design work on the side, Mike’s main enterprise is a series of blogs and books aimed at young architects; most importantly an online book aimed at helping people pass the Architectural Registration Exam. Mike’s a social media whiz with an entrepreneurial streak, and a bit disenchanted with architectural practice. “The Internet will chip away at traditional models of practice. The big firms, SOM, will not disappear, but will have diminished influence. Small firms will find more specific niches as client’s fine tune the right designer for their project.”
Michael may decide to be more directly involved in design in the future, but for now his full energy is devoted to creating a viable business from his experiences as a young professional and his expertise at completing the registration exam. “I try to be optimistic. Being an architect is great, but it’s also tough and super competitive. The profession will be fine if we can just stay away from the narcissism.” Mike doesn’t have to worry about that.
How will we live tomorrow?
“The Internet will play a much bigger role than it already does. It will move architecture in very good ways. There will be more ways for entrepreneurs to work outside the box.
“From a negative perspective, Internet communication will increase but face-to-face communication will become more important as it becomes more rare. I see a lot of traditional beliefs getting thrown out the window.
“Everything will be redefined. The idea of work, the idea of family; it’s all so different than it was a few years ago, and it is going to evolve further away from our common definitions.”