If Architects Designed Board Games – Monopoly

An old feature dies; a new feature is born. In what will hopefully become a series of posts, we look at what might be different about board games if they were designed by architects. Today we look at that old depression-era classic, Monopoly.

Architecture Monopoly_Title


The object of the game is to become rich through the practice of architecture by designing thoughtful site-specific buildings that serve the needs of the client. One player may become rich and be declared the winner, the rest will barely make enough to live. In the history of the game there have been like, 6 winners, and they were all assholes.

Select your Gamepiece

Architecture Monopoly_Pieces

Choose from a selection of classic architectural tools, such as the compass, the french curve, and everyone’s favorite, the T-square. There used to be a lead holder but it rolled away and now we just use the Writer’s Cramp piece from “Operation”.


Upon graduation from an accredited university, each player starts with their net worth as follows: 2 each of $10 bills, 3 each of $1 bills, 1 pretty decent laptop and 1 pirated version of AutoCAD. Select the player with the strongest real-world business skills to act as the banker. Note: when playing with actual architects it is likely that nobody will be qualified to be the banker. If this is the case, select the person you would trust most to figure out the tip at a restaurant.

Starting the Game

Place all pieces on the space labeled “Go”. Every time a player passes “Go”, that player pays the banker $200 for student loans, $100 to maintain their license, $50 in membership dues and $20 in errors and omissions insurance.

Playing the Game

Architecture Monopoly_Gameplay

The player with the most capital letters at the end of their email signature goes first. Roll the pair of dice and advance the number of pips shown. Symmetry Bonus: a player who throws doubles may roll again. A player who lands on “Chance” or “Community Chest” must draw a card and follow the instructions on the card. Typical cards read as follows:

  • Specifications contradict drawing notes. Go directly to “Litigation”. Do not pass “Go”.
  • IRS Audit! Starbucks coffee is not a business expense. Pay $3,000.
  • Client’s garbage disposal has broken on a project you completed 4 years ago. Skip your next turn while you explain that fixing it isn’t really your responsible as a design professional.
  • The “Get out of Litigation Free” card is kept until used, at which point the player declares “It was the Contractor’s fault” and returns it to the bottom of the deck.

A player who lands on a property may cold call the owner of that property to see if they plan on expanding in the future? Alright, well when you do please keep us in mind, we’re very good at designing affordable additions for small business owners such as yourself. Let me just leave you my number. Hello?

Houses and Hotels

Once selected to improve a property, the player designs a house for the owner of that property. No, not that kind of house, the owner was thinking something more “Colonial” but mixed with “Victorian”. Well, the player should just do one option like that. OK that’s much better, they love it.

After completing the design for a house, the owner will decide that they want to do a Hotel instead, which should be easy since a Hotel is basically a bunch of houses except tiny and smashed together. The player will be given 30 seconds to explain why this is an insane request, after which they will design it anyway without increasing their fee.

Paying Rent

When the player lands on property with a piece of architecture already on it, the player must pay the owner the amount shown on the Title Deed Card. The player may make up to three snarky comments about the massing, floor plan, fenestration, finish selection, or lighting but then they must stop talking about it at the dinner table because we talked about this. They player may also silently note one detail they think is cool and use it on a later project.

Winning the Game

There are three ways to win the game:

  • Become wealthy. This is technically impossible and if you did it you probably became a developer or something.
  • Convince yourself that you’re doing what you truly love and you don’t really want all that money anyway.
  • Marry rich.

* * *

That’s it! Thanks for playing, and if you can think of any board games that should get the architecture treatment then leave them in the comments.

4 thoughts on “If Architects Designed Board Games – Monopoly

  1. Clue – determine which room in a house the owner died in because of faulty design. Also, the “characters” are the different subcontractors that you can blame for the untimely death of the homeowner because of shoddy design and/or construction

    Mousetrap – Design an elaborate trap to capture your opponents pieces. However, one player gets to act as PETA and can dismantle another player’s trap or free previously trapped players at any given time. The only way to win is to find a way to humanely capture the mouse and give it a nice home to live in.

    Risk – Somewhat a combination of Risk and Age of Empires, but since we’re only doing board games, basically you have to find a way to combine Age of Empires (building stuff) with building an army to attack the other person’s stuff. This was a terrible explanation, I should’ve just stopped after Clue.

    • I think you nailed it with ‘Clue’. ‘Mousetrap’ is good too, plus I have an idea for how to end that one. I’m having a harder time with ‘Risk’, but I’m sure there’s something there.


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