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Apple’s HQ in Cupertino— Photo by Carles Rabada on Unsplash

To explain the photograph above, Foster Associates, the genius architects, understood if they were to design anything more complicated than a torus, it would confuse the computer engineers housed within. This way they can wander in circles until they return from whence they began…

Architect vs. Engineer

In response (sorta) to Tim Denning’s piece on computer programmers, allow a sidebar—a discursion, as it were.

This ramble is about engineers and architects, with the latter being real architects, not computer nerds who co-opted the title because they slept through English 101 and were too lacking in vocabulary to create their own.

A computer programmer is to an architect as — well, they’re not even close. Am I bitter —oh no, not me.

The OED has the earliest citation for architect as 1563 CE. And quotes Milton in to boot: “The work some praise and some the Architect.” taking note of the verb and title bestowed.


And for engineer, in 1420 CE it is quoted: “In hys court was a false traytoure, that was a grete Yngynore.” In his court was a false traitor that was a great — proof enough.

To prattle on a bit more, on Denning’s piece, only a computer engineer would use two words meaning the same thing, namely ‘idiot’ and ‘moron’ — both pejoratives for people of low IQ — how do these people graduate high school?

So back to engineers vs. architects, this isn’t to say there’s not a modicum of creativity, a smidgen, a scintilla even, in a wee tiny minority of engineers, but it’s a proven fact one can get a degree in engineering of any sort without ever needing the first genius gene; one need only to follow the recipes.

Lord please forgive this persecution.

In the olden days — 1950 and earlier — architects who showed no creativity were known as draftsmen (no women allowed). Today we just send them along to run for office; even beagles can sit in Congress.


This piece is dedicated to my sister’s father-in-law, who, having graduated from Georgia Tech with his engineering degree, decided to go into an actual profession as a restaurateur. He gave me crap for studying architecture, so I’m paying him back after the fact. When he was still alive, I always gave as good as I got — and loved the man for loving me.

A practicing writer and architect, he is now squandering hours making a mess from writing.

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