Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Guidance Requested.

I ran across your blog today. I have been thinking about becoming an architect for years. My delay and ambivalence has had to do with raising/financing three kids, the growth in my own business, and the reality of life as an architect (my brother in law is one). Now, however, my youngest is in college, my design business is exceedingly slow, and I am definitely moving toward a change.

I have been thinking more and more seriously about getting a march I in architecture. There's part of me that's terrified of not being up to the mark, of being too old to tackle this. But I'm not sure that's my greatest impediment. (I took two courses at UCLA last fall and did well.) I'm old enough not to want to waste money and time in a formal 3 yr program unless I have a better idea of how I could fit into the world of architecture.

Wow - I will be honest. Most individuals that contact me are at the start of their career - i.e., students in school, recent graduates. Sometimes, I hear from a early to mid-career who wishes to pursue architecture, but your background is a first.

I will do my best, but it may be best to talk on the phone to brainstorm together.

First, given your design-related background and that you have between 25-40 years of productive work life, I would suggest you go for it - become an architect. Philip Johnson did not become licensed until he was 39 and practiced the craft into his 90s until he passed away.

Clearly, you have many developed skills to offer the marketplace; perhaps the question is whether or not you do it on your own or part of another firm. Of course, as you admit - where do you go with this. One source you may wish to access is the book - What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles (Ten Speed Press). Next to the Bible, this is the best selling book; Bolles helps readers determine the next step for their career.

Other than reading, I would suggest you begin to truly network with other design professionals as you may already be doing. Be willing to share your story of who you are and ask for ideas on what to do. You are LEED and I am sure you could serve as a consultant.

Granted becoming an architect will take some years (5-6), but will it be worthwhile. I have been in education for almost 20 years and did have a student entering our MArch program in his mid-50s with a Ph.D. in Mech Eng. He brought a great deal to the program despite he was older than some of the faculty. He is gainfully employed in the profession soon to be licensed.

Bottom line - discover what you love and find the opportunites that allow you to pursue your passion -- i.e, find your passion and find someone to pay you to do it. I have had the fortunate to do that for almost 20 years.

Best -- If you wish to discuss via phone, let me know as I can serve as a consultant. Do look at my book, Becoming an Architect, 2nd Edition.

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