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Our Top 5 Architecture and Design Podcasts

02.14.14 / Jonathan Quinn, LEED AP

In the past decade Podcasts have become a quick, convenient, and easy way for people to consume quality content on a wide variety of topics. Also with the widespread use of smartphones in the past 5-10 years, podcast have only become more convenient and easy to access.  According to an article in (Despite Being Oh-So 2005, Podcasting Is Drawing Listeners and Advertisers Alike) the percentage of Americans who have listened to a podcast has increased from 10% in 2006 to 26% today, and iTunes announced over the summer that it had reached one billion podcasts downloaded. 

Podcasts are a great way to learn or be entertained while commuting to work or working out at the gym. You can find them on an array of topics from Investing (MarketFoolery by The Motley Fool) to Fantasy Football (ESPN Fantasy Focus Football).  Architecture and Design is no exception. Below I have outlined a short review of some of my favorites (in no particular order):

1. The Business of Architecture Podcast:

(iTunes Description) Want a more profitable practice? If so, welcome to the Business of Architecture, devoted exclusively to helping the small architecture firm and solo practitioner succeed. The focus here is simple: discussion of ways for architects to; do what they love, find the right kind of clients, receive recognition, and make more money while doing it. Fancy that!

Produced and hosted by California Architect, Enoch Sears, this is a weekly interview style podcast and, just as the name states, is about the business of Architecture.  Guests are typically Architects who take a unique approach to running their firms. The interviews usually revolve around how their approach is working for them.  There is a lot of great information in these interviews especially for Architects running small firms and young Architects looking to learn the business side of architecture.  Some minor draw backs are that the audio quality is not consistent between podcast perhaps depending on the location of the interviewee. Also most podcasts tend to be rather long, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

2. 99% Invisible:

(iTunes Description) Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we've just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible (99 Percent Invisible) is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. From award winning producer Roman Mars and KALW in San Francisco.

The below review for this podcast is by my colleague Doug Shilo, an avid listener who suggested 99% Invisible for this list.  Based on his glowing review I know I will be listening from here on out.

“Roman Mars sets a new standard for the 15 minute short. As the podcast’s name suggests, it’s easy to forget just how important design is in our lives. Sometimes, design can even be baffling, only revealing its story to those willing to untangle its complex history. The topics explored by 99% Invisible are compelling and touching, yet the execution is fun and loose. Zoom around the world with these design detectives as they unravel why the densest city block is in the middle of nowhere, or why Los Angeles has so many public stairways, or how the car came to rule walking cities. The production is polished to a mirror finish, including densely edited interviews punctuated by outstanding “think about it” music a la This American Life or Radiolab. These bit-sized shorts will leave you reeling with a sense of wonder about the built world that surrounds you. Listen to it with your non-designer friends!”

3. DnA: Design and Architecture:

(iTunes Description) From your iPod to the Freedom Chair to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, design and architecture shape our world. On DnA: Design and Architecture, host Frances Anderton talks to design world leaders about the latest in products, fashion, graphics, architecture and more, in Los Angeles and beyond.

DnA is another well-produced podcast that has the feel of radio show with all the benefits of being a podcast.  Topics range from interviews with Architects about what influences their design aesthetic to discussions about the top ten buildings that have influenced America.  This is an excellent and well produced podcast for anyone looking to learn more about design and architecture .  The discussions tend to be rather in-depth and require your full attention, so this podcast is not necessarily good for multi-tasking.

4. The Architecture Happy Hour:

(iTunes Description) HPD Architecture principals Laura and Larry share tips and topics on architecture, from how to choose the right architect to what interns can do to be successful as they begin their careers.

The Architecture Happy Hour is an informal and entertaining podcast which is hosted and produced by two principals at HPD Architecture, a small Dallas based architecture firm.    This is another great podcast for young architects interested in learning the management side of a firm and some best practices for professional development.  The hosts take a very informal approach to the podcast and share a lot both professionally and personally, which can be entertaining.  Since the hosts draw on their personal experience the content tends to focus on their local market and sector but I think the majority of the information is useful for everyone.

5. The Accidental Creative:

(iTunes Description) For those of us who work with our minds, or "create" every day, the pressure continues to mount to produce better work, faster. We live in a create-on-demand world. The Accidental Creative podcast addresses how to thrive in the create-on-demand world by instilling practical, everyday practices that help you stay prolific, brilliant and healthy in your life and work. Featuring interviews with artists and leaders such as Seth Godin, David Allen, Steven Pressfield and others, as well as, best practices for staying creatively engaged. The Accidental Creative deals with real-world issues in practical ways.

Hosted and produced by author Todd Henry, the Accidental Creative is based off his bestselling book by the same name.  Although not strictly about architecture, this podcast addresses implementing practices and systems in your life so as a creative professional you can work at your best while living a fulfilling life.  As an author, the host focuses on writing as a creative endeavor but I believe many of the lessons can be applied to architecture and design as well.  The podcast usually consists of the host discussing varies topics around creativity and developing practices that can lead to creative consistency, occasionally he will do an interview with an expert in this field.  This truly is a great podcast for anyone working in a “create-on-demand world”, something architects are doing every day.  The podcast seems to come out weekly although that doesn’t always hold true, which is sometimes frustrating because the content is so good.

If you have another Architecture or Design podcast that you enjoy we would love for you to leave a comment or the link to that podcast in the comments section on ARC’s LinkedIn page.


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