Bob Mohr, senior architect, is driven by a belief that architects should always act as responsible members of society and stewards of our planet. His design practice over the past 20 years has spanned the United States and globally, including Europe, North Africa, and Asia. A committed generalist, Bob has broad experience working on a wide variety of project types and sizes ranging from the tiny to the territorial, and he treats every project as a unique opportunity to create something special and beautiful.
Keep reading to learn more about how Bob approaches designing a better world.
While I was interested in architecture in high school, it wasn’t until college that I realized architecture is about much more than just drawing and creating beautiful buildings. In addition to architecture, I minored in African American Studies, which broadened my architecture work. Identity and culture have an impact on design, and great architecture considers this. There are many ways to practice design, and many acts that can be considered architecture. The role of an architect may extend to community organizing, activism in the service of the people who need good architecture, or urban design. I believe we have a responsibility as architects to use our work to improve as many peoples’ lives as we can, focusing more on serving populations that need to be served.
What motivates you most in your career?
I think of my career like chapters in a book. I’ve had great experiences wherever I’ve landed and learned from everyone I’ve worked with. From my first job in Seattle to working in France and Morocco, the strongest influences on my work have always come from people for whom I’m designing. I believe everyone deserves great architecture, and I want to design projects that make a meaningful and lasting impact on individuals and communities.
More than that, I’m motivated by creating a better world for my kids and the next generations. As a profession, architects have a responsibility to question what, how, and why we’re doing the work we do, both in terms of the climate and social justice. I’m always motivated by that bigger, sometimes difficult, question: “why are we doing this?” It takes time and patience, but I believe we can make an actual difference on every project we do.
What do you believe are the most important skills for architects?
Empathy and a passion for making a difference. Early in my career, I had the opportunity to work on a master plan and classroom building for Northwest Indian College and the Lummi Nation in Washington state. I thought I knew what to say, but I quickly learned that my ability to listen and understand was more valuable than any formal education I had. You have to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes first; that’s how you need to approach every discussion you have. If you’re open to that simple idea, you’ll learn more than you’ll give.
Architects have a unique opportunity to shape our society through the projects we pursue. I believe a successful project is one that contributes to the community. We’re currently working on a project at University of Wisconsin Green Bay, a public university whose student population is nearly fifty-percent first generation students. It’s impactful to create a space for learning and collaboration, and a source of inspiration for students who are stepping out of their comfort zone.
What do you do in your spare time?
If I’m not hiking, camping or kayaking with my wife and children, I’m building something new. I recently built an outdoor kitchen and a wood-fired hot tub, and helped my son build a fort that my family and I are enjoying this summer. You can always find me somewhere between the woods and the sea.