I Wish I’d Known that Getting Registered as an Architect was Worth it (and not as hard as you think)

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Becoming an Architect, that is, a fully licensed ‘Architect’ is by no means a short process.  Depending on one’s jurisdiction, generally in North America, one has to complete a degree (or two) from an accredited institution, log thousands of working hours in various project types and phases, document that experience and have it reviewed at regular intervals, and write multiple exams on a variety of topics ranging from zoning all the way to beam design.

During that process, as one works their way through this complex set of requirements, they may find themselves surrounded by individuals who ask, ‘Why you are even bothering?’

A question that would sound ludicrous to any outsider to the profession, to those of us within it, whether Interns, Architects, or other employees of Architectural Practices, this attitude is increasingly common.  If one can work, manage projects, design, get promoted, and receive a wage for those services as a Designer, what difference does it make whether they get registered as an Architect or not?  Think of the money that you could save (registration annual fees, exam costs, study materials, etc.), and why should you support organizations (NCARB, CACB, AIA…) that, from your point of view, only create stumbling blocks within the profession...

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Top 10 Reasons to be an Architect

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From Life of an Architect, Top 10 Reasons to be an Architect

Excerpt:

I have seen a lot of lists recently that have reasons why notto be an architect so I thought I would come up with a list of reasons why you should be an architect. To make things interesting, I am only allowing myself 30 minutes to write this entry so hopefully this limitation will force my own reasons to the surface.

1. It’s a lifestyle, not a job.
Architects typically tend to think about architecture all the time, I know I do. Not just the big ‘A’ type of buildings or projects, but every little thing from every where I go. I go somewhere and start looking at materials, form, massing, lighting, etc. If I take a trip somewhere, I start by planning it around the buildings I want to visit. Probably 90% of all the books I buy (not including children’s titles) are about architecture – I even put them on my Christmas list.

2. People respect architects.
Even if they don’t really understand what we do, there is a perception that architects are ethical and responsible and will endeavor to make the right decision to our own detriment. It’s part of the reason that ‘architect’ is chosen so often as the vocation for title characters in movie and TV roles. Architects aren’t generally viewed as driven by financial rewards like doctors or as scurrilous as lawyers (can be).”

3. Job is constantly evolving.
Architects are not artists – we have to address building technology and programming...

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How to do flawless construction drawings

How to do flawless construction drawings from Vat Jaiswal on Vimeo.

Greg Erickson talks about the essential things to keep in mind while producing construction drawing set:

  1. Completeness in drawings
  2. Show information where it makes sense
  3. Understand materials
  4. Think about sequencing
  5. Consider all building systems
  6. Go to the site, talk to builders and do field reviews
  7. Think about costing
  8. Consultant meetings and product research
  9. Understand what to look for to solve a problem
  10. Keep learning
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A Day with Zaha Hadid – Video

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 Zaha Hadid discusses her current work with Michael Blackwood Productions taking the camera through her retrospective exhibition “Zaha Hadid has Arrived” at Vienna’s MAK, a museum for design and contemporary art held in 2004.

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CBRE’s Bold Experiment: 200 person office with no assigned desks

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In an effort to reduce rent costs, the international real estate brokerage firm created its first completely “untethered” office in Los Angeles, where assigned desks and offices are replaced with flexible work spaces.
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As an Architect working with commercial clients I am seeing more and more ‘flexible’ offices, but not on so big a scale as the CBRE Los Angeles office discussed in the below article.  From upper management down to recent hires, there are no assigned desks.  Great pictures and description here.
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Excerpt of the article from Building Design and Construction:
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“The idea of shared workspaces is not new. Corporations and institutions have employed “hoteling” concepts for decades. What’s new is the scale of these projects. Large corporations like GlaxoSmithKline and CBRE are implementing “first come first serve”-type workplace concepts across entire floors and buildings—all in an effort to use their space more effectively and, in CBRE’s case, reduce rent costs.

The LA Times yesterday reported on CBRE’s new 200-person headquarters in Los Angeles, which occupies the top two floors of the 26-story 400 South Hope tower. All 200 occupants, from the executives to the brokers to the admin. staff, work in a completely “untethered” atmosphere, where assigned desks and offices are replaced with a variety flexible workspaces (traditional workstations, small private rooms, conference rooms, lobby space, etc.)...

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Architecture Studio: Social Support vs. Stress

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Besides providing a rich source of interactions and ideas, the studios also provide social support.  In psychological studies on stress in the work environment, it has been found that, “social support has been related to improvements in life stress in terms of less depression and anxiety, better physical health, and general psychological well-being.”  Recognizing this advantage as it applies to the studio environment, schools encourage students to work in studios, both so that they can stay on target with their class and be available for discussion, but also to allow the class to ‘self-regulate’ its behaviours.

“There’s people that support each other.  There’s a social network, there’s a support network that exists and simply the fact that there is an architectural community that exists, I think is positive.” -Masters Student

“The culture here is very enjoyable; frustration level is high but it is alleviated by the small size of the school, so that you can get close to and support each other.” -2nd Year Student

Adapting to this unique culture can be a challenging one for younger students, but the social support that is offered in the studios does much to help them develop their own working style.  However, this positive aspect of the studio could be even more applied if students from different years were able to interact within the same studios...

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Architecture’s Attitudes: Self-Deprecation, Disillusionment

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Continuing from other articles on attitudes/stereotypes in the profession,

The ‘Hero Architect’

The Egoist and the Prima Donna

Emotions and How We Learn / Design

Insecurity and Focusing on Past Errors

This article looks at the side-effect attitudes that can arise from a focus on past errors.  Often seen in architecture schools, and occasionally in practice, attitudes of Self-Deprecation and Disillusionment can lead to a profession that tends to downplay its own importance or value, or that is downplayed by others.

“So maybe we are wrong.  We are thinking that we are needed, but we are not.  … We are absolutely un-needed.  I tell you, if all the architects of the world, the boring ones and the interesting ones, die tomorrow, nobody will take notice.” – Mark Wigley, Dean, Faculty of Architecture, Columbia University

Why architects and students of architecture engage in this type of devaluing is a hard question to answer.  Is it a reaction against a perceived society that doesn’t value their skills, or a defense mechanism for criticism?  Or does it come from something else?  Either way, these attitudes, adopted by most for at least some period of their professional life, do little to help the status of the individual or the profession at large.  Why would a client hire an architect that said his work wasn’t actually that good?

“All of the roadblocks, risks, and uncertainties can produce severe frustration and disillusionment, perhaps the greatest overall risk ...

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