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Any Architects on the Style Forum?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Anyone? It's a line that I've taken particular interest in for awhile now, anybody willing to share some first-hand experience as an architect? Any other information is very much appreciated as well. I will be going to university soon, and architecture is one of the courses that I will be considering.
post #2 of 9
I believe there is a style forum member who is a practicing architect.

I have a bit of experience with architecture, although not as an architect. As an undergraduate in college, I took a few architecture classes, which I enjoyed, in addition to some art history classes, which I thorougly enjoyed as well. After graduating, I went straight to graduate school to study architecture on the masters level. After one year (MArch is a three year program for students not holding their Bachelors degree in this major), I decided not to continue to pursue a masters degree in this field. Although I left, I still have an interest in this area, especially in art history. Architecture is so incredibly broad and complex in that it can be so specific and ambiguous at the same time. All I can tell you is, be sure you are ready for long nights. Architecture is notoriously intense and analytically rigorous, which was my experience when I was a MArch student. I am sure architecture at the undergraduate level is also very intense. I highly suggest taking a few introductory classes before you consider it as a major.
post #3 of 9
Art historian, did my thesis on architectural history (early 20th C). If I had to choose careers again, I might have tried becoming an architect.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your replies.
Pink22m, if you don't mind me asking, what made you decide to stop pursuing architecture on a masters level despite having an interest in this field? Because it was too "intense", as you put it, or were there other factors involved? Sorry if you feel I'm asking too much.
post #5 of 9
I was based in the architecture department while doing my Ph.D., though I'm a physicist (I was working on room acoustics at the time). In my experience, the M.Arch and B.Arch students certainly did spend some late nights working, but perhaps no more so than other students at RPI in similar programs.

I would note that in thinking about where to go, architecture schools seem to be of one of two minds: practical and construction oriented or theoretical and concept oriented. Either can be okay in my view but finding one that suits you could be a large factor in whether you will enjoy the work you are involved with.
post #6 of 9
I was a practicing architect for about three years, and eventually I want to work in a firm again.

An education in architecture can be a wonderful thing. Learning about design can be one of the more valuable things a person can do. Even if you don't practice after you graduate, you will be a great candidate for just about any creative job: fashion design, urban planning, industrial design, you name it.

Professional practice is nowhere near as glamorous as it seems, but the rewards from doing it are worth spending the time studying it. Not monetary rewards, mind you (the pay sucks until you get registered), but the satisfaction that you've improved the built environment in your own way.
post #7 of 9
hm, the pay still sucks after you're registered.

you can make money if you are a partner or sole proprietor in a reasonably successful firm.

but architects don't make as much as doctors and lawyers, generally.

i'm an architect, 11 years exp, licensed. here are a few bullet points:

  • architects draw a lot, on CAD.
  • school is fun, even the late nights.
  • work is generally not as much fun.
  • you generally don't do the same stuff at work that you did at school.
  • the people who have an advantage in architecture are either the ones who have "natural talent", who got started early (usually with parents who are architects), or who are independently wealthy.
  • success comes less easily to the rest of us.
  • be prepared to face competition.
  • if you can't be one of the Golden Boys, try not to let envy eat at you.
  • the first few years of work attempt to wring the joy out of you. if you keep the love of history, theory, and culture in you, it will come back into use later on.

***edit: oh yeah, and the biggest one of all:
  • critiques are the life of an architect. if you can't give and receive them gracefully, you won't last long. (but that's what school is for - gives you a chance to grow thicker skin.)
post #8 of 9
I am a practicing architect as well (5 years experience). I am currently finishing my exams. I agree with pretty much everything above, especially that many architects get jaded as students towards the romanticized view of "The Architect". As with most professions, the perceived view does not really exist, and many young architects become disillusioned and switched fields. If you stick with it past the hard first few years of practice (I did it by doing my own design competitions on the side) where you only do grunt work drawing what seems like endless construction details and filing drawings, it can be very rewarding.

as far as the pay, yes, it sucks compared to other liscensed professionals (lawyers & doctors), but pays well compared to other design arts (graphic, industrial, fashion, textile, etc.). If you are out for the cash, this is probably not the route to go, but you will make a very livable income, and jobs are fairly easy to come by (especially a few years out from school).
post #9 of 9
Originally Posted by swisloc
....and jobs are fairly easy to come by (especially a few years out from school).

I finished undergraduate in 1991. lemme tell you, if you're ever going to graduate in 1991, go back to school for a few years. I couldn't buy a job then. I spent several months office-temping, then worked a year or so as a computer programmer, then went back to school, got my B.Arch, moved across country to CA, and then got my first job. By then the economy was in recovery.

Also i wore boxes for shoes and walked to work in the snow uphill both ways.
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