Whether you listen whilst working, on a commute, or when you’re in the gym, podcasts have the ability to both educate and entertain us …there is a wealth of knowledge to be absorbed. But what are the very best podcasts for architecture right now?
In this article, we’ve rounded up twelve big-hitters that attract students, professionals and enthusiasts alike. Whether it’s a chat between young architects about the pressures of their chosen career, advice from seasoned professionals, reviews of the world’s greatest buildings or panel discussions on race and gender in architecture, we think the list below offers some of the most stimulating content available today.
Our Top Ten Podcasts for Architecture
These are our top ten podcasts on the topic of architecture – and since we don’t like to play favorites, they’re listed in alphabetical order.
99% Invisible is not only one of the most popular podcasts on architecture and design, but one of the most popular podcasts ever. On a weekly basis, creator Roman Mars (who, surprisingly, has no formal qualifications in architecture or design) discusses the things that surround us but often go unnoticed; recent episodes have focused on bunkers, pedestrian skyways, and Florence Nightingale’s pioneering methods of data visualization.
The team at 99pi – as the podcast is affectionately known – have uploaded hundreds of episodes since September 2010, but there are eight themes to guide you: architecture, cities, history, infrastructure, objects, sounds, technology, and visuals. (Find them in the right-hand sidebar of the 99pi website for easy access.) So why not join the 500 million people who have already listened, or get stuck in to the companion book, The 99% Invisible City.
Archinect was set up in 1997 by American architect Paul Petrunia in an attempt to connect and foster dialogue between architects around the world. Sessions, the company’s podcast, came along in 2014, and there are now around 200 episodes to enjoy. Hosted by Petrunia himself, alongside Donna Sink and Ken Koense, Architect Sessions takes on any topic related to the built environment.
Expect plenty of ‘conversations with’, as well as in-depth analysis of contemporary topics such as homelessness and racial inequality in the architectural profession. Before the pandemic, episodes were released twice a month; this rate slowed considerably over the course of 2020, but hopefully more episodes will reach us soon!
Archispeak’s makers describe their podcast as ‘a casual conversation’ about ‘everything in the [architectural] profession, both the good and the bad’. If you’re a student or early career architect, it’s a thorough and realistic introduction to the field that covers practical topics (like the ideal number of design options to present to clients) and dissects the everyday issues we all face (such as work-life balance).
Hosts Evan Troxel and Cormac Phelan are both practicing architects and they’ve offered 20-minute windows in their worlds since 2012, with over 200 episodes now available. If you’re based in the United States, you might also find Troxel’s book ARE Hacks: Learn How to Pass the Architect Registration Exam helpful.
In 2011, American architect Enoch Bartlett Sears suffered a major disappointment when he started his own firm but failed to attract clients. Reflecting later on what went wrong, he developed what he calls the SMART PRACTICE method and began the Business of Architecture podcast.
As you might expect, it focuses on the ins and outs of working for yourself as an architect. His goal is to help owners work on, rather than get stuck working in, their businesses. More than 350 episodes have been uploaded to date, with recent topics including female leadership, increasing visibility, and creating a collaborative culture.
Another podcast that focuses on the business side of architecture is EntreArchitect (Entrepreneur Architect), which was started back in December 2012. An offshoot of the blog by architect Mark R LePage, it now has almost 400 episodes on subjects as diverse as contract documents and how crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic might, in fact, be blessings in disguise.
New content is released on a weekly basis. LePage, who is Partner in Charge of Operations at McCarthy LePage Architects, focuses on helping smaller firms improve their practice. He also runs a number of courses via EntreArchitect Academy.
Inside the firm is a raw and honest look into the inner workings of an Architecture firm run by podcast hosts Alex Gore and Lance Cayko. Posted every Friday afternoon the principles and hosts take a unique dive into the nitty gritty issues of how to start, run, and maintain an architecture firm, to dealing with clients, codes issues, Revit tips and tricks, and more.
With regular guest appearances, the ideas and discussion points go beyond the clichés and use insightful questions to create conversations that offer actionable ideas for listeners to transform their businesses, relationships and leadership.
You probably know Life of an Architect as a (hugely popular) blog, but 70 podcast episodes of the same name are also available for your listening pleasure. They are presented by author Bob Borson with occasional guest presenters, and they cover topics similar to those on the main Life of an Architect blog – in short, the nitty-gritty of working in the profession. Recent episodes discuss a typical day at work, the benefits of sketching by hand, and stereotypes about architects. It’s likely to be especially useful for those just starting out or even those with a layman’s interest in the built environment; Borson is a friendly, informal host who manages to avoid jargon and cliquey references, in spite of 25 years’ experience as an architect. Episodes are released at frequent but irregular intervals.
Interested in what it takes to make thoughtful work in architecture today, Register features conversations from the Department of Architecture & Landscape in the Kingston School of Art, London. Where they speak and hear from practitioners, planners, developers and others from the best emerging architectural talent in the UK and Europe, and discuss their work with our students.
If you’re wondering, not unreasonably, if you’re ever going to hear a female voice: The Second Studio (formerly The Midnight Charette) is presented by architects Marina Bourderonnet, from France, and David Bruce Lee, from the US. The podcast is unscripted and long-format, so expect some honest and meaty conversations about the industry.
Bourderonnet and Lee began The Second Studio as they felt ‘most of the media covering design and architecture were selling an oversimplified version of it’ that was ‘dry to read and listen to’; their witty chats have certainly begun to set that right.
Episodes are divided into four categories – guest interviews, after hours (casual chats about life as an architect), fellow designer (tips and strategies from professionals), and design review (discussion of a particular building) – and there’s a selection of over 200.
10. The Site Visit
The Site Visit is unusual among the podcasts on this list as its focus is construction, rather than architecture per se. It’s hosted by Canadians Andrew Hanson, James Faulkner and Christian Hamm (with a different guest each time), and the trio have produced over 40 episodes so far.
Each one is at least an hour long which allows subjects to be covered in depth, and some of the subjects to be tackled recently include a history of modular construction and innovative ways to dispose of waste from construction sites.
When he was starting out, presenter Hamm was told ‘construction will always be chaotic’ – this podcast is an effort to cut through the chaos and improve industry practices.
11. Talking Practice
Talking Practice is the occasional podcast of Harvard GSD (Graduate School of Design), hosted by Professor of Architecture Grace La. Only eight episodes have been released since 2018, with none at all in 2020, but in March 2021 Talking Practice returned with a bumper 90-minute discussion of the state of the profession during ‘uncertain’ times.
Despite the low frequency of its output, the podcast is an authority on all things architectural. However, for more regular content from Harvard GSD, tune in to their YouTube channel.
In each episode of The Young Architect Podcast, host Michael Riscica invites a different guest to talk about their professional experience. Lately, guests have included marketing expert Caelan Huntress, interior designer Elizabeth Lockwood and architect Feyi Quadri, which gives an idea of the breadth of topics covered by the series.
The podcast is a product of the Young Architect website, which also offers online courses and organizes conferences for those just starting out in architecture. Around 150 episodes have been uploaded since February 2017, with lengths of 20 minutes to around an hour.
Though we couldn’t quite squeeze these podcasts into our top ten, they’re still definitely worth your time.
Architecture is Political – in a profession which, in the Western world, is overwhelmingly white, this ‘podcast where black and brown folks have a conversation about architecture’ is something to celebrate.
ArchitectureTalk – hosted by Vikram Prakash, Professor of Architecture at the University of Washington, Architecture Talk releases two episodes a month and attracts high-profile guests.
Register – this podcast by Kingston University London offers a British take on matters architectural. Episodes are released every two months and last around an hour.
Podcasts are a great way to keep up to date with what’s happening in the profession. They’re free, they’re released on a regular basis by both experts and newcomers in the industry, and with so many available you can always find something that appeals to your own niche interests.
We’re confident that the list above offers a diverse range of topics, but a little online browsing will uncover many, many more podcasts from around the world. And if you can’t find one that really speaks to you, why not have a stab at making your own? The bigger the variety of voices, the greater the profession can become.
But we’re not finished! we know that this list isn’t perfect, so let us know in the comments below of any that with we’ve missed and/or that you think would also be useful…
We have another guide here discussing the best architecture YouTube channels