Friday, November 28, 2014

Film and Media Studies to Architecture

First off, thank you for all your insight and advice about architecture. I really appreciate the time you take to help others others online. By reading some of your past posts, it helps to know that I am not alone in the situation about pursuing a career change. A little about me: I recently graduated with a undergraduate degree in Film and Media studies, but I started out as an intended architecture student during my first two years of college. Now, I have decided that I would be happy to do filmmaking on the side, and would like to commit to becoming an architect. Having taken time off from actively learning architecture, I plan to take some drafting, Revit, and CAD classes at a local community college next year in hopes to build my portfolio, and then send in my applications in Fall 2015. Do you have any other recommended architecture classes I should take?

In order to get into a masters program, I understand that I need a solid portfolio, recommendation letters, along with GREs scores and a statement of intent. Do you have any other advice on how to build a strong portfolio/application for students who did not come from a previous architecture background? Also, do you have any advice for getting architecture internships? This has been difficult because almost all all architecture firms require some sort of Bachelor's degree in architecture, which I do not have.

Thank you for your time and I hope to hear from you soon.


Given that you have your undergraduate degree in film and media studies, you are eligible for applying to a Master of Architecture (3-4 years).  As for classes to take, I would suggest you contact the architecture programs to which you are applying for insight.  

On the surface, I would NOT take drafting, Revit or CAD classes.  Instead, take drawing or art courses that will benefit your portfolio that you will need to submit with your application.  You may also consider taking a summer program -- Some may also require calculus, physics, and/or architecture history.

As for your portfolio, consider for assistance and ideas.  Also, search portfolios on ISSUU for ideas.  Remember, you do not need to submit architecture projects - a challenge may be to submit your creative film in a two-dimensional portfolio.

As for obtaining an internship, contact firms with your skill set -- film.  Perhaps, some firms would appreciate your making films for posting on their website, etc. 

Just some ideas.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Healthcare Architect

I am a registered renal nurse who is taking up architecture classes now. I am interested in this so called "healthcare architect" what does it actually mean? what is the job description?

The best answer always comes from the source; visit the following website. However, facilities for healthcare is growing.

American College of Healthcare Architects

The American College of Healthcare Architects provides Board Certification for Architects who practice as healthcare specialists. Our certificate holders include healthcare architects throughout the United States and Canada with specialized skills and proven expertise.

HOK Healthcare

I am hope that this will get you started.

Career Designing: Your Path to Architecture

On this Friday, November 21 at 6:00pm, I have the pleasure of presenting the workshop - Career Designing: Your Path to Architecture at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

I have led this workshop many times through the past but I always enjoy doing it again as it is an opportunity for me to help launch a career in architecture to those in attending.  It never gets old.

Later, I will share the contents of the workshop.

Marketing to Architecture/Exhibit Design

Hello, I am a senior marketing major at Howard University in Washington DC.  I currently work as a marketing intern and museum assistant at an art museum and I am interested in pursuing a masters in architecture to then do civic architecture focusing on museums and exhibition design.  Do you have any suggestions or recommendations on how I can gain more experience and make that transition to museum design, as well as, who to get in contact with for information about exhibition design and gaining more experience
without a design degree?


First, congrats on your interest in architecture.  As you are in the midst of completing your undergraduate degree in marketing, you are certainly eligible to apply to any number of Master of Architecture degree programs across the country.  In most cases, you will take between 3-4 years to complete the degree.  To start the research process, consider visiting the following: -

Both will provide you a list of the programs with more detailed information along with contact information.  In the DC region, you may consider UMaryland, CatholicU among others.  Unfortunately, Howard does NOT have the graduate degree, but you should consider taking a course from the School of Architecture at Howard next spring to generate material for your portfolio.  All graduate programs require a portfolio regardless of your background.

To gain experience, touch base with your internship supervisor for ideas.  Visit the National Building Museum and others to gain exposure.  I did find this group.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chicago Architecture + Design College Day

The Chicago Architecture + Design College Day 2014 will be held this Saturday, October 18 from 11:00 - 2:00pm at Harold Washington College.  As can be seen on the poster and the website, over 50 institutions offering degree programs in architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, and construction management will be on hand to meet with students.

For more details and to register, visit

Theatre or Architecture

I am a senior in high school and have just started applying for colleges and looking at the huge span of opportunities laid in front of me. I am currently debating between majoring in theatre or architecture. A few months ago, I was dead-set on pursuing theatre, teaching theatre, or basically anything to do with theatre (I'm not one of those teenagers with their heart set on Hollywood and "making it big" though. 

Many people misunderstand my motive for majoring in theatre for that stereotypical reason). Many serious talks from my parents and family members have convinced me to engage in other things I may be good at, since I have created a Bubble of Theatre around me and my entire middle school and high school education. 

After much thought, I discovered this summer that I might want to pursue architecture. However, I know hardly anything about it! To be considered for the School of Architecture at University of Texas at Austin, I am required to submit an essay that would be used to get an in-depth explanation of my experience in any type of design/art/architecture. I have gained experience in theatre all throughout highschool--I hardly know anything about design, but I have always been an artsy person at heart. I have a small glimmer of interest for architecture right now. 

Do you think it might be too soon for me to apply to the School of Architecture considering my minimal experience in the field? Or should I simply start out with college courses that would introduce me to architecture? What could I do to expand my knowledge or architecture? It'd be great if you could help me out. I have done much research on architecture but I always end up really confused about it all. I'm really curious as to what an aspiring architect might go through when they barely get to college, not knowing what the heck architecture is all about. Are there even people that do that? I don't know. 


Amazingly, when you truly think about it theatre and architecture are very parallel.  In its simplest form, architecture is all about making spaces for people.  While theatre is about telling a story through space -- certainly scenic design is connected.  You know more about architecture than you give yourself credit.  What is design? - creativity, problem-solving, art, science.

To address your questions -- 1) it is NOT too early for you to apply to the School of Architecture.  Most architecture programs assume you know very little about architecture.  If you have not already done so, contact the school and talk with an admissions representative and ask questions about the essay.

In some ways, you may wish to explore other architecture programs via these two websites --

To learn more about architecture, contact a local architect and ask to shadow; walk around and truly "see" architecture; draw or sketch architecture.

Also, obtain a copy of Becoming an Architect, 3rd Ed. -

Do not be afraid to ask more questions.  Keep in touch and Best!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Graduate Studies - Right after UG or not.

I'm having trouble deciding whether to do the M.arch program (for non architectural background) straight after undergrad or taking a gap year (or two).  Is it beneficial to work before and gain some real world experience? I don't want to get burnt out but also am thinking that it may be good to go ahead and start my career. Any advice? 
This is always the million dollar question - go straight through or take a year or two between.  
First, I would apply to programs and plan to pursue the degree directly after your program because you can always decide later to not go if admitted.  Next spring, you cannot apply to programs after the deadline if you do not have a position.
Normally, I would suggest you work between degrees to broaden your exposure to the profession, discipline, but can you find employment?  What is your UG degree?
Remember, that most graduate programs for those with a degree in another discipline may be 3-4 years -- taking a year or two in between may be a nice diversion if you can afford it.

Funding for Graduate Studies

Funding for grad school is really important for me and I can't find any good source to find the list of architecture grad programs that offer good amount of funding/assistantship. Can anybody help me with this or direct me to a source??
For simply a list of architecture programs, access the following:
Your best source of potential funding sources will be that actual architecture program; most will offer fellowships, scholarships and teaching assistantships, but they are competitive.  Determine the programs to which you plan to apply and contact each directly to learn their application process and criteria.
Beyond the program, contact the office of student financial aid on each campus.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Decline in Licensure Rates

So, this week, the AIA released the third quarter ABI (Architecture Billings Index); for me, that was not so much interesting, but later the article had a pie chart (see below) highlighting the reasons for the ongoing decline in rates of licensure according to firm leaders.

In viewing the chart more closely, it is clear that the primary reason for the decline is "few benefits/incentives - 32%.  Thus, why would one become an architect if there is no benefit or incentive.  If one wishes to be in the profession, simply obtain the degree and work for a firm under the supervision of an architect.  In this scenario, they would not be able to call themselves an architect or open their own firm (a valid reason to pursue licensure).  

But from stories I have heard, firms do not provide any additional financial compensation when a staff becomes licensed.  Typically, there is no more responsibility just because the individual is an architect.

To stem this decline, the profession needs to provide incentive; in turn, we need to provide benefit or incentive to clients to hire architects.  

Most of the other reasons are, in my opinion, "complaining.  The "process is too costly, not prepared for the ARE, etc." are just excuses from the candidate/intern.

I do find it interesting that a full 13% are not fully committed to a career in architecture; while this sounds like a valid reason, why are they not fully committed.

Bottom line, what can the profession do to improve the benefit of becoming an architect?  Is money the solution?  I hope not, but a raise when becoming licensed certainly would help.  I do think more firms help subsidize the ARE and IDP.

What else can be done?  I am not sure, but do not law firms celebrate when their staff pass the bar.  The AIA does provide free convention registration to those who have become licensed in the past year.

As an educator, I try to do my part and strongly encourage my students/graduates to pursue licensure, but what should I tell them is waiting for them?

Just my thoughts!

Design Activity in the Third Quarter Opens with a Bang

Firms see many reasons for declining licensure rates among younger staff

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Best Undergraduate Major to pursue Master of Architecture

I am a high school student who wants to be an architect. My father works at a Nazarene university, so his children (me) gets free tuition to any Nazarene university. Unfortunately no Nazarene university has an architecture degree. I've heard of people getting degrees in non architecture related things and then going on and getting a masters of architecture. So my question is, what degree would most benefit me to become an architect if I can't get an architecture degree where I am going? And what schools have a great masters program?

Thanks for your time!


First, you are correct in that there are many U.S. institutions that offer a Master of Architecture degree for those that pursue an undergraduate degree in another discipline, no matter the discipline.  

To research programs, visit - and

Now, with respect to what degree or major you should pursue, I would first share that pursue one for which you have a passion -- do what you love.  What is most critical is that you have great academics (GPA) when you apply to these graduate programs and you are more likely to have great academics if you pursue one for which you have a passion.

Next, it would be best to pursue a degree that is related to architecture if possible (art, landscape architecture, civil engineering, etc.) as you would possibly be able to waive courses at the graduate level.  Also, you want to pursue a major that would help you build a portfolio -- take courses that create materials for a portfolio.

Lastly, select an institution that is a good fit for you - one that you will enjoy as you may change your mind and not choose architecture in the long term.