Do you want to be an Architect?

Bob Borson —  January 9, 2013 — 15 Comments

A few years ago I started a series of posts that were directed towards people who had an interest in either becoming an architect or now that they had finished school … what happens next? The intent when I started this series was to create a depository of answers to questions that people tended to email me – thinking I could just refer people to the post on the subject rather than having to recreate the answer over and over again. These posts have been created over a two-year period and I discovered that some people who wanted this information still couldn’t find it and I still found myself back where I started. Hopefully now that I have created a single page that will contain all of the posts that fall into the category of “Do you want to be an Architect” I can accomplish my original goal of the blind leading the blind.

What this page will not contain (because it seems to change with remarkable regularity) is anything to do with the act or process of getting licensed, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), Intern Development Program (IDP), or what college you should consider attending. Those things have to many moving parts to consider and (wah-wahhhhh) since I have been licensed for a while now, I don’t keep up with the changes.

If there is a topic you think you would like me to address, please feel free to send your suggestions to me – bob@lifeofanarchitect.com

In the meantime, I hope that this is a resource for those of you looking for some answers.

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Do you want to be an Architect?

It takes a lot of commitment and desire to become an architect. Nobody becomes an architect because they think it sounds cool or they like to draw. There is a lot more to it and I think it needs to be a calling for you to even think you will experience any measurable success. Do you think you have what it takes to be an architect?

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 The College Years 

When I tell people I knew I wanted to be an architect by the time I was 5 years old, they think how lucky that must have been! But am I really so lucky? There was a time when I thought I had made a terrible decision, and I found myself struggling with the classes and the time and effort required to just to keep pace with my peers. (but I think this story has a happy ending)

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Design Studio: Top 10 Things you should know

Architecture school is all about the studio. Whether you are new to design studio or a seasoned pro, there are a few things that I thought I would share with all you that dispel some commonly accepted ideas of what architecture studio really requires from its attendees. I think you might be surprised to read a few things on this list but I promise that you will be better off for having read this list.

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What makes you a designer Bridge Section CAD Detail

What makes you a designer?

As a practicing architect. not everything I do is big picture design. From the overall time I spend working in the office, very little is – but good architecture isn’t always about the big killer idea. I consider coordinating a project and the details of the construction of that project integral to a successful design.

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Handrail Bracket Sketch Detail

Drawing like an Architect

I am living proof that you don’t have to draw well to be an architect. Having the ability to draw beautiful pictures doesn’t hurt but let’s pull the curtain back and be honest here for a minute … Architects communicate through their drawings – we aren’t making art. As architect Lou Kahn once famously said, “an artist can make a cart with square wheels, but an architect can’t.”

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money

How much money does an architect make?

Architects can make a great living but there is balance between money and happiness that must be found. This post contains a snapshot of some of the best places to work and what areas pay the highest salary for architects. Before anybody start whining and moaning about how architects are underpaid, let me tell you know that I don’t want to hear it. Teachers are underpaid.

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The ‘Not so Sexy Side to Architecture’

There is a reality check coming for most graduating architecture students. Practicing architecture for 99.9% of the architects out there means something other than designing – at least what you might typically think design really means. The practice of architecture is more than sketching on trace paper, parti diagrams, deciding what pens to draw with, groupies, and last-minute trips to Vegas with the client. It means solving problems – sometimes incredibly mundane and uninspired – yet very important problems to the people who retain your services.

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architectural and engineering scales

An Architect’s Tool Bag

To be an architect you must have specific tools to get the job done. Here is a look at the ones I use most often. Some (but not all) are clearly throw-backs tools that reflect the fact that I graduated from architecture school 20 years ago. Despite the fact that I am pretty good at AutoCAD, I didn’t put it on my list of tools. If I had made my list a little longer it probably would have showed up.

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Architectural Interns

Here are some unique insights into how an architecture student can rise to the top of a pile of resumes and get that coveted architectural intern position. I also share with you the most abrasive and shocking story from my first day on the job at my first intern position. It’s Cuh ra zee! If we ever meet in person, you can buy me a beer and I’ll tell you who Boss #2 is from the story.

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So there you go – the first collection of articles geared towards architecture students, architectural interns, and people interested in the process of what it takes to become an architect.  I will be setting this post up as a permanent page at the top of my site and will be adding posts to it as I see fit (which means when I actually write them). LIke I said in the beginning, this is supposed to be a resource for people so if you see a topic missing that you would like to see my thoughts on the subject are, just send me an email – bob@lifeofanarchitect.com

Cheers.

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even better

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    yolo

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  • http://www.facebook.com/pamela.leonard.37 Pamela Leonard

    This is fantastic. We were just reminiscing today at lunch about the “stair luge” at our university Sarc. haha

  • http://twitter.com/BuildingContent Collier Ward, AIA

    Bob, thanks for this collection.

    As you know, my tagline is “Architecture Holds a Thousand Stories.” As we share the stories of Architecture (the good, the bad, and the otherwise) I believe the world will begin to understand – and value – what we do.

    Please keep up the excellent work of architectural storytelling in the new year!
    Collier

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Thanks Collier – same to you (keep the stories coming!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1582426934 Kelley Dellafave

    I am just sopping all of this up, as my hubby just completed his first semester at UH Gerald D Hines CoA, with anticipation and excitement for what our future holds. Thank you for this extensive article, and look forward to reading throughout the years to come (helps me to appreciate his hard work and be his biggest cheerleader)! :)

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      That’s great that he has your support. Going through the education process will change your lives with the sort of ideas and experiences you both will go through.

      Enjoy!

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1582426934 Kelley Dellafave

        Thanks Bob! I look forward to sharing this process with him and with our 7-year-old son, who has already positioned himself in the Aerospace Architecture program at UH! lol

  • Drew Hasson

    I like the Louis Kahn qoute. The man was a genius, he is one of many Architects I became a “fan” of. I’ve worked in a few buildings he built here in NY City.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Cool – I’ve only walk through a few but since I have the Kimbell Art Museum in my backyard, I’m doing all right.

  • Drew Hasson

    Bob, I commend your efforts and appreciate how you get right to the chase. I will be reading, you’ve definitely clarified some stagnant rumors. As far as suggestions, what of the others in the studio like draftsmen, illustrators, code and spec, Con. Admin, etc? I’m well aware that a building will not go up if not for them.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      the entire process requires a team of individuals, all of whom have an important role to play. That’s part of the reason I let people know that even if you think architecture isn’t for you based on the studio experience, there are many roles on could play in the creation of a new building.

      Cheers

  • http://www.facebook.com/debra.fuller.167 Debra Fuller

    This reminds me of a conversation I had once with a woman, who when she learned I’m an architect, told me that when her son was thinking about architecture as a career, she contacted a friend of hers who practiced architecture in Philadelphia. When she asked him if her son could call him to talk about going into architecture, he said, “Sure! Don’t worry, I’ll talk him out of it.”

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Hah!