Thursday, December 22, 2011

Civil Engineer to Architect

I need some professional help regarding my path to becoming an architect.
There is  a long story why I'm choosing architecture cause I am a graduate civil engineer that seems to be successful in my career in IRAN.
But still wants to change my path to architecture.
I find out that I should apply for master of architecture in US universities in a special 3 year program, while the question is here that choosing Master is not the sole selection of mine.
I think choosing Bachelor of Architecture and start a new bachelor can be also effective even more.
So my first Question is regrading this issue?
My second Question is regarding After Master Exams.
For example in US there is FE & PE exams for Civil engineers is there any exam for Architecture to give you the permission or signature.

Given that you already have a degree in civil engineering, it would make more sense to pursue the MArch (3-4 years) than the BArch (5 years).  These MArch degrees were designed for individuals with a degree in another discipline.

In the U.S., the process of becoming an architect requires three (3) tasks 1) education - professional
NAAB accredited degree; 2) experience - fulfillment of IDP; and 3) exam - completion of the ARE (Architect Registration Examination.

Other resources to review -- and Becoming an Architect, 2nd Edition.

Dr. Architecture

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Post Professional degree in architecture

I’m a graduate of B.Arch ( 5 years professional degree) from India. I wanted to pursue Post professional degree in architecture as I already have a graduate degree.
There are certain questions I have. Kindly spare some time to clear my doubts.
1. Now I’m practicing as an architect. If I study Master in Urban Design, I would be an urban designer. Are there plenty of scopes for urban designers?
2. Is the pay for urban designers more than those of the architects?
3. Although I have an interest in designing buildings, if I have did Masters in Urban Design won’t I be able to do both - design the layout of the towns as well as design buildings?
4. The relationship between Urban Design and Landscape Design. This is because I don’t like landscape design but I’ve heard that Urban Design has a lot of landscape design in it. If Urban design is more or less similar to landscape design, I would consider not taking it as I hate designing plants and trees.
5. I have an interest in Digital Facades. I’ve also heard about the M.Arch in Digital Architecture. Please tell me where is the best place to study this course apart from USA.
6. Please also tell me the scope for this course (Digital Facades). Is it research oriented? Are many people opting for it?
7. I also came across a specialist course - M. Arch Sustainable Tall Buildings in the University of Nottingham. If you know any details about it, please also share it.
It would be really kind of you if you could take your precious time to answer all my queries. I thank you for spending your valuable time in reading my letter. I am looking forward for your valuable suggestions and opinions from you.

First, let me say that my expertise is in becoming an architect in the U.S., not urban design.  With that said, let me suggest you continue you search with the following resources/associations --

Congress for New Urbanism


American Planning Association


Given you already have an architecture degree and are able to be a practicing architect, obtaining an additional degree in urban design would broaden your skill set and professional opportunities.

Urban Design Definition

With regards to MArch - Digital Architecture, I cannot share much insight.  For a list of accredited MArch degrees in the U.S., I would suggest you visit -- and --

For the MArch Sustainable Tall Buildings, visit -- --

Clearly, you have various interests as they relate to architecture and the built environment.  Continue to research and ask questions to determine which is the best path for you.


Job Search

I graduated from UC Davis majoring in Design: Interior Architecture and Minor in Art Studio. I have had a various amount of internships in Architecture and Interior Design firms. However, I am still unable to get a job in the architecture or interior design field. What do you suggest I do next? Should I apply to grad schools? If so, is it smart to go to the UK to get a degree if ultimately, I want to practice in San Francisco (which is where I am living now). 

As you have discovered, searching for your first career position is a challenge. 

It is truly hard for me to suggest what you do next without knowing fully your job search process.  You seem to imply that you are ready to give up on job searching.  Certainly, moving ahead to graduate studies is an option but are you confirmed for which discipline - architecture, interior design, other?

Obtaining a degree in UK is an option as well, but if it is in architecture, you will have additional administrative hurdles to jump for becoming licensed in the U.S.

Again, without knowing you job search, I am still inclined to suggest you redouble your efforts with searching for a career.  Step back and do some self-assessment to best determine your approach.  What skills do you have that potential employers may be seeking?  Do not just approach design firms.

The best way to search is via networking, not job boards.  Join a professional association or volunteer to connect with designers.  Research firms and visit them directly in person - not send them an email.

Contact your alma mater to see if they have an alumni network that you could use to connect with design professionals.  One resource to obtain is What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles.

Best in your search and contact me if you have additional questions.

Dr. Architecture 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

How to start the journey to becoming an Architect

I'm a freshman in high school in southern Oklahoma. I want to become an architect but don't know where to start or what to do.

First, congratulations on your desire to become an architect.

At your stage in your high school career, I would suggest what is listed below to begin in your journey as outlined in my book, Becoming an Architect

I wish you the best and keep asking me questions if you have any.

Preparation: High School
The process of becoming an architect can take ten to fifteen years from entering an architecture program to passing the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).

Academic Coursework
Because becoming an architect requires a college education (in most states), your high school academic curriculum should focus on college preparatory courses, including four years of English and mathematics. Pursue as many honors and advanced placement (AP) courses as possible; by taking and passing advanced placement exams, you receive college credit and bypass required entry-level courses.

While the mathematics requirement varies among architecture programs, most either require or encourage you to take calculus. You should pursue or take the highest-level math course your high school offers.

Although some high schools do not require or offer physics, you should take an entire year of high school physics rather than biology or chemistry if you can possibly arrange it. A good year-long physics course is excellent preparation for college physics and structures courses.

In addition, take art, drawing, and design classes rather than architectural drafting or CAD. Your interest in architecture may surface due to a drafting course, but drafting is not as helpful in your skill development as art classes. Art, drawing, and design courses develop visual aptitude and literacy while expanding your ability to communicate graphically. 

Beside academics, what can you do to begin your preparation for a career in architecture? Consider the following: (a) exploration of the built environment; (b) visits to architecture firms and schools; (c) participating in a summer program sponsored by an architecture program; and (d) participating in an after-school program. All these provide you a head start on the path to becoming an architect.

An important skill to acquire in becoming an architect is the ability to see. By learning to observe buildings, spaces, and their relationships, you become sensitive to issues that concern architects. Explore your surroundings by looking closely at the built environment every day.

One way to develop your drawing skills is to dedicate a specific amount of time — one or two hours — per day to sketching. Be committed to drawing each day. Practice, practice, and practice!

Begin reading books, magazines, and newspapers articles on architecture and the profession of architecture. Check your local public library for ideas.
Tour the design studios of a nearby school of architecture to become acquainted with the experiences of an architecture student. Speak with students about what they do. If possible, attend a few classes to learn about the courses you may take.
Many colleges and universities offer summer programs designed for high school students who desire to learn about the field of architecture. Lasting from one to several weeks, these programs are an excellent opportunity to determine if architecture is the right career choice. Most include design, drawing, and model-building assignments, field trips to firms or nearby buildings, and other activities. These can all assist you in determining if architecture is for you. Summer programs are also a good way to learn about the regular architecture program of that particular school.

After-school Programs
Another program that exposes you to the profession is the ACE (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering) Mentor Program of America. ACE is an after-school program for high school students interested in learning about career opportunities in architecture, engineering, and construction management. Throughout the school year, students are matched with professionals on a project that suits their interests. Other extracurricular programs include the Boy Scouts of America Explorer Post, Odyssey of the Mind, and others. 


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Career Sessions at AIAS FORUM 2011

In slightly more than two weeks, I will presenting three (3) careers sessions at the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) in Phoenix, AZ.  Check them out below.

AIAS Forum - Saturday, December 31
Career Sessions at FORUM 2011
Led by Lee W. Waldrep, Ph.D. (aka Dr. Architecture), this series will provide you with the tools to understand how to launch your career in architecture. Discover career designing, learn how to search for your career, and be exposed to the myriad paths you can choose. If you are serious about your own career, you will not want miss these sessions.

Saturday, December 31, 2011
9:00 AM – 10:30 AM: Career Designing
11:00 AM – 12:30 PM: A.R.C.H.I.T.E.C.T: The Career Search
1:30 PM – 3:00 PM: Careers Paths of the Architect

9:00 AM – 10:30 AM: Career Designing
Presented by Dr. Lee Waldrep

It has been said, “Decide what you want out of life, create the terms that allow you to do this, and then design you day-to-day life to reinforce your goals.” You may not think of a career as something to be designed, but career designing can be exciting as you learn more about yourself and design your future path.

Through a series of exercises, this interactive session will allow you to reflect on your architectural experiences; learn how the career development process relates to the design process, and envision your future career in architecture or not.

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM: A.R.C.H.I.T.E.C.T: The Career Search
Presented by Dr. Lee Waldrep

As you approach graduation, do you know your next step will be? Will it be attending graduate school, working in an architecture firm, or something else? Through this interactive workshop, learn how to prepare for your career after school by being exposed to the steps securing a position in an architecture firm and exploring how to what to do next.

1:30 PM – 3:00 PM: Careers Paths of the Architect
Presented by Dr. Lee Waldrep

A degree in architecture is becoming the new MBA. Architectural education is one of the last liberal arts degrees combing art, history, and science with problem solving skills. With this base of knowledge, graduates with a degree in architecture can work in many related fields or specialize within the profession. This workshop will provide career paths, both traditional and alternates to the traditional role of the architect. In addition, information on resources for careers in architecture and off the beaten path careers will be shared.


Biochemistry to Architecture

I am a recent graduate from UC San Diego, with a BS in Biochemistry. Recently, I have decided to pursue a different career path, and I am very interested in Architecture. I did some research and realized that it is a possibility even with my background, but I have a couple of questions I want to clarify before I try to pursue something that may seem impossible.

1. With my unique background, what would it take for me to get accepted/ even considered for accredited MArch programs within the United States and ultimately become a licensed architect?

2. What is the major difference between Architecture and Architectural Engineering/ Structural engineering?
3. What kind of skills would I need to have to be a successful, practicing architect?

I appreciate any information/ resources you are able to provide me. Thank you for your time and help! 

1) Given your undergraduate degree (although biochemistry), you are eligible to apply to a Master of Architecture (3-4 years) at any one of many institutions that offer the degree.  Visit -- or for a list of programs to consider.

2) Architecture is more about the design of buildings; architectural engineering is more about civil engineering with an emphasis on building.

3) As for skills, there are many important skills to have as an architect; drawing, sketching, designing, teamwork, collaboration, problem solving, etc.

One resource to review is Becoming an Architect, 2nd Edition.

I hope this helps!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Practice Options

Lately, I have been doing a great deal of research on what I term "Architecture and Beyond."  Individuals with an architectural education who have pursued a career path beyond traditional practice.  

I will write a more involved entry later, but I wanted to bring attention to a new feature on Archinect entitled Practice Options.  The tag line is "to be an architect or not be an architect; or to be an architect without really being an architect.  Or to be something else with a background in architecture.

Anyway, below is the first profile.  Enjoy.

"Through the magical medium of Twitter, I had the pleasure of virtually meeting Nic Granleese, an architectural photographer in Melbourne, Australia. He is a self-described 'registered, but non-practicing architect'--and after seeing that description, I knew I'd found the perfect candidate for my first profile of an architect doing something else.?

Dr. Architecture

Sunday, November 27, 2011

CV or Resume for Graduate Applications

Could anyone with experience applying to grad school, or experience in an admissions office, help me delineate which of the following would or would not be appropriate to include on my CV?
  • Actual descriptions of the scholarships and awards I've won (without actual dollar amounts, though, right?).  Could this get repetitive? 
  • Work experience that is irrelevant to architecture, i.e. waitressing jobs
  • A list of skills with various programs like CAD, Adobe CS5 Suite, Sketchup, VRay, etc.
  • Academic-related travel experiences -- I could go into detail here, but it would also be mentioned briefly under the "study abroad" category of my education, so I don't know
  • Fluency in a language
  • Descriptions for architecture organizations in which I really don't do much (i.e. AIAS)
I'm only used to making resumes, so I'm not sure what's appropriate for this purely academic situation. 

To determine what is most appropriate, I would consider contacting the actual academic programs to which you plan to apply.

Otherwise, do not get caught up on the differences between a CV and resume.  Simply include a resume that outlines the appropriate information pertinent to applying to a graduate program.

What you list above are all appropriate except for irrelevant work experience.  Of course, I do not think you need to include detailed descriptions of scholarships or architecture organizations.

If desired, have the career center at your school review.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Architecture Portfolio

I am going to apply for the Master of Architecture, I am planning to put the urban design works into my portfolio because my major is Urban Design Studies. I just wonder do the most university want to see the fine art works or architecture and urban design projects in the portfolio?

Congratulations on your intention to apply to a Master of Architecture.

Your best resource to determine what graduate programs wish to see in a portfolio is to contact them directly.  As you will discover, they wish to see creative work -- this can include both fine art works or architecture/urban design projects.

Below are some portfolio requirements from architecture programs as examples.

Another resource is Portfolio Design by Harold Linton -- --

The portfolio is a key element that provides essential evidence as to the applicants ability to be successful in the graduate program. Only evocative and professional portfolios with clear, concise graphics and verbiage that show the best of an applicants work should be submitted. The design and execution of the portfolio is an important indication of an applicant's design ability. Portfolios should conform to the following standards and guidelines.
Applicants to the professional degree, NAAB-accredited MArch., with little or no design background, may consider submitting examples of visual materials such as sketches, constructions, graphics and photographs.
The portfolio is a synopsis of one's creative work. As a visual essay, it tells a story of a person's interests, skills, and development over time. It should include projects that best express one's visual, spatial, and constructional abilities. These projects might include drawings, paintings, sculpture, or photography; graphic, industrial, or interior design; architectural, landscape, or urban design.

Best in your applications.

Transfer Questions

Dr. Architecture, first let me say your blog is very informative. 
Thank you for taking the time to answer questions for those of us who are clueless. I am in need of some advice. I am currently a first semester freshman at a local public research university. I am strongly considering transferring to a different university next fall to study architecture. My problem is that I have absolutely no art or design background, though I do have a strong musical background and am well acquainted with the creative process. 
My grades are excellent (I already have 9 hours worth of credit from dual enrollment classes I took in high school, and I have High A's in all my classes this semester so far. I expect to maintain my 4.0 gpa), but all of my credit hours are just general education. I am very driven, and I know I will do well wherever I go, but I really have no idea If this is a feasible plan, or what to take next semester. I still have some general education classes I could take, but I don't know what sort of classes are necessary to have already taken in order to transfer into an architecture program. 
I guess my question is, what are the steps I need to take in order to make a successful transition into an Architecture program? Thank you for taking the time to help me out.

Thanks for your compliment!

As one who works within a School of Architecture at a Big Ten Research I University, I would not worry too much about your lack of art or design background.  Research the programs to which you wish to transfer but many may not require a portfolio.  Our program is a 4 + 2 which has almost all general education courses (liberal arts) in the first year and one required architecture course.

The best way to determine what to take next semester is to contact the respective programs to which you are applying.  Have you done Calculus and Physics?  Can you take art/freehand drawing courses at your current school?  Are there more general education courses that you can take?

Granted, you may NOT be wish to transfer to a five-year BArch program because you would be behind, but I know of many 4 + 2 MArch programs that would be just fine for you.

To successfully transfer, you need to contact and talk with the architecture programs directly.  Review what they have their first year students (freshmen) take and parallel it.  Talk with an academic advisor in the architecture program and the Office of Admissions. 

Keep in touch.  Best.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Design Professions in Canada

I am graduated in Nuclear Physics in Iran. But I am  a Canadian citizen. I want to pursue my education in Canada . I am fond of interior design. I really like to design and make the inside of houses and restaurants and offices calmness ,beautiful ,interesting. I have searched for Interior Design as a master program , unfortunately I have not found any things. Is master of Landscape Architecture  suitable for me?  If yes , I do not take any architecture courses , I just make some handicrafts for designing  houses, can I apply for  Master of Landscape Architecture and  Architecture  at Canadian universities ?
And, does it have some smaller courses? I mean, I do not mind to study master of it , if there is any certificates, or courses which take less time ( about 6 months or so) and help me to find a good job.

First, my expertise is in becoming an architect in the U.S., not interior design nor landscape architecture in Canada.  With that said, check the following for CIDA accredited programs in Canada.  One institution, states that they have a Master of Interior Design.
University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB
Master of Interior Design (2005, 2011)

Below are accredited landscape architecture programs in Canada.

If you wish to pursue architecture, visit the following.

I would suggest you determine which of the design disciplines you wish to pursue and do so.  Best.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Bridging the Gap - New Book

Bridging the Gap: Public-Interest Architectural Internships, an essay collection edited by Professor Georgia Bizios and intern architect Katie Wakeford brings together twenty-two contributors across the United States to address a broad range of considerations regarding public-interest internships.

“Bizios and Wakeford have assembled a timely, convincing, and highly useful collection of essays that demonstrate the power of public service to expand the education of architects through direct community engagement, greatly multiplying the dividends of internship. ‘Bridging the Gap’ enriches the literature on public-interest practice, and establishes the relevance of social equity to our continuing discourse on professional development.”
Professor Daniel S. Friedman
Dean, College of Built Environments, University of Washington

Having just read the above book, I can honestly say that it is a must-read for all architecture students.  It provides a window into the world of public service internships including the Rose Enterprise Fellowship.

Regardless of whether you wish to enter public service, you should still read this collection of essays.  My only hope is that the text helps convince the profession to be more accepting of this type of internship as a requirement for licensure.
Dr. Architecture.

Bridging the Gap

Career Days - Dallas, TX and New York, NY

Between now and the end of the year, I will be speaking/presenting on Becoming an Architect, 2nd Edition at two different career days for aspiring architects and the annual AIAS Forum.

If you live in these regions, feel free to attend.

2B an Architect
Dallas, TX
AIAS Dallas - Saturday, November 19

ARCHSchools Confidential
New York, NY
AIA NYC - Tuesday, November 30

AIAS Forum - Saturday, December 31

Volunteering for an Architecture Firm

I'm in grad school for my masters' degree in architecture. As you are probably aware, jobs in architecture, especially in entry level positions, are slim to none. I am pondering about working at a firm as a volunteer to become familar with the workings of an architecture firm. I'm 40 years old(I hope that my age does not make a difference), I do want to become an architect, more than anything. How should I approach an architecture firm to work as a volunteer? 

I have a technical diploma in AutoCAD 2010. In school, I'm currently learning Photoshop CS,Adobe Illustrator and model making, and I'm experienced with Word,Excel,Outlook, Powerpoint and Publisher. If it means anything, I've designed and built furniture for the past 5 years. Any advice you can give me will be greatly valued and appreciated.

I can certainly appreciate that securing a position within architecture is challenging, but I would NOT recommend that you "volunteer" for a firm as a means of gaining experience.  First, it its strictest form, it is against Federal Labor Laws.  If you work for a firm, they are obligated to pay you minimum wage, at least.

Based on what you have shared you have talents to offer a firm and should continue your efforts to secure a paid position.  You may need to cast a wider net of employers including furniture design.  As this point, you want to develop your skills and ideally you wish to work for a firm, but others might benefit from your past experience and skills.

Begin to network with your faculty or alums of your institution to find possible leads. 

As an alternative to volunteering in a firm, consider volunteering for a non-profit or shadow an architect, but please do not work for free.

Best - Dr. Architecture

Monday, November 7, 2011

Architectural Specializations

Dear Dr. Architecture,
I’m a graduate of B.Arch from India. I have a few years of experience working in architectural firms in Hong Kong. I have seen many people’s comment on the net saying they had their advices from Dr. Architecture. I have never known who it was, after only coming across your website and found it was you. The website was very interesting and I personally need some advices from you.
I have completed my professional degree of B. Arch (five years). Although B.Arch and M.Arch are professionally equivalent, the term Bachelors and Masters make people tend to think the B.Arch is lower than the M.Arch. Moreover many large architectural corporate firms job requirements were a Master degree rather than a Bachelor Degree. Even many architects think B.Arch is not as equal to M. Arch.
In India the architecture curriculum is of 5 years to attain B.Arch. Then an M.Arch (2 years) which is considered a Post Graduate-Masters. But many people mistaken it to be M.Arch – Graduate degree. Moreover just a basic M.Arch degree of 2 years is never opted by majority of the students instead they go for Masters in some specialized field. Many people from India after completion of B.Arch go to U.S.A or U.K. for pursuing M.Arch – Graduate degree (which is equivalent already) without this knowledge.
I learned from your website that the B.Arch and M.Arch degree is professionally equivalent. My degree is not recognized by the HKIA (Hong Kong Institute of Architects) although I’m recognized in India by the COA (Council of Architecture, India). I thought of doing a Masters in some specialized field in U.K. or in U.S.A rather than just doing a basic Masters. So I’m looking in for a Post Professional Masters in some specialist field relating to architecture.
It’s confusing for me to take into a specialism because I really don’t know which interests me. I thought working for some time would help me figure out which stream to take but still I’m confused as the work which I normally do in the office is all general planning and design. I wanted to know all the available specialism streams in architecture so that I would know which would interest me.
I hope you could sort out my problem and I truly appreciate any time you have to advise me.
Thank you in advance.

First, the BArch and MArch (from U.S. institutions) are professionally equivalent in the U.S. in terms of accreditation.  This is not necessarily the case with foreign degrees such as yours.

If you desire a post-professional degree, you would be well served to seek a M.S. in Architecture in the United States.  However, if you ever wish to become licensed in the U.S., you may wish to obtain the professional M.Arch.  Another route is the BEFA program through NCARB.

With that said, you question involves specializations.  Unlike perhaps medicine, the list for architectural specializations would infinite long, but the list below is a starting point.  It is from, a database of accredited programs in the U.S. and Canada.  If you desire, you can search programs based on the specializations.

Also, as you have the professional degree from India, you could also pursue a degree in a related discipline such as Urban Design, Landscape Architecture, etc.

Architectural Design
Art and Design
Building Information Modeling
Building Technology/Environmental Systems
Community Design
Computer-Aided Design
Graphic Design
Interior Design/Architecture
International And Regional Architecture
International Development
Landscape Design
Professional Practice
Sacred Spaces
Urban Planning and Design
Dr. Architecture

Sunday, October 30, 2011

QR Reader for

For those hi-tech and using QR readers, below is one for  I checked it out and it does work.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Architecture Summer Programs in Europe

My 16 yr-old son is interested in a career in architecture and we are currently living in Switzerland.  He will be returning to the US following HS graduation here.  I know there are many summer programs in the States for students his age, but was wondering if there were any programs in Europe, closer to home for us now.

Thanks in advance for any information you might have.
First, you may obtain a list of the U.S. programs from  At this point, the list is still from 2011, but the 2012 list will be available in January.

I did find one website for international programs but none are for architecture.

With that said, I would consider having your son attend a summer program in the U.S especially if he will return to the U.S. for college.  As the program coordinator for the Discover Architecture program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, we have had a handful of students from abroad - France, Canada, Taiwan, South Korea.

Another option is to contact the many international architecture programs individually.

Best!  Do let me know if you have any further questions and what you might find out.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Aspiring Architect

I am in the midst of pursuing a career in architecture, for it has been a professional interest of mine for a long time. I have already obtained a degree in Art History from Pennsylvania State University and am currently pursuing a degree in Architectural Technology from Norfolk State University. After completing my two years at Norfolk, I am going to apply for a  M.Arch program. 
What I am concerned about is the competition I will face with students who have obtained their bachelor's degree in architecture. Are they reviewed on an equal field as students who have an undergrad in an alternative major? Also, how important is obtaining an internship before applying for a master's program? And, how much work experience would I need before an architecture firm considers hiring me (post graduate school) to do work beyond and internship level?

I am not sure where you are in completing your degree in architectural technology, but do know that you would be eligible to apply to a Master of Architecture (3-4 years) with your art history degree from PSU.  From my view, the degree that you are receiving is more technical and drafting.  It may be helpful but will it provide you with materials for your portfolio?  Perhaps not.  I would encourage you to take drawing, art or life drawing courses.

You should NOT be concerned about the competition when applying to a Master of Architecture as you would be not be compared with those that apply with a pre-professional degree.  To be sure, contact the programs to which you plan to apply and learn how they make admission decisions.

Typically, it is not necessary to have an internship prior to applying to a MArch.  I would certainly encourage you to secure an internship either prior or during your MArch to bake you more competitive when pursuing employment after graduation, but many MArch graduates may not have internship experience at graduation.

Best.  Feel free to contact me with more questions.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Internship - Discovering Architecture

I'm writing to you after reading the information given on your website relating to Architecture. I am currently a first-generation college student attending a community college in NYC. I'm still in the process of discovering what I want to pursue in my career life, though I am clear that I want to be in an industry where I can use my creativity, an industry where my imagination will be an asset in my career.
I want to experience the architecture world! And as an intern I will know if this would be the right path for me. Do I qualify to be an intern if I have no type of experience with architecture and no portfolio? How can I go about finding an internship? What other preparation would you recommend for me? 
I truly appreciate any time you have to spare to advise me.
Congrats on discovering and following your passion -- using your imagination.

Architecture may be a good fit for you given your passion to use imagination.  However, given the economy and your limited skill set, it may be difficult in securing an architectural internship.  It does not mean that you should not attempt to locate one.

Think of an internship as a career related position in an architecture firm.  You can apply with your credentials but know that it be difficult as many firms are not hiring.  In your case as you are trying to determine if architecture is the right path for you, contact a firm to possibly simply do a shadowing experience where for a single day you learn about what an architect does. 

Perhaps, through your community college, you can contact an architect.  Of course, it would help to have a portfolio to demonstrate your skills and work.  Start by contacting the AIA NYC to view firms in the city.

If possible, visit the schools in NYC to talk with current architecture students; consider attending events through the AIA NYC - -

Stay active and continue to ask lots of questions.
Dr. Architecture

Are architects leaving the profession?

I have recently discovered your blog and first want to thank you for your career advice to those of us who are considering a career change to architect. I am in this camp and have been slowly preparing myself for this next chapter in my life. 
I have taken drawing classes; volunteered at a design/build site with the architecture program at the University of Utah and am putting together a portfolio for admission into the masters of architecture program. 
My question is with all the economic challenges that architects face today, have you seen a number of architects leaving the profession because of the lack of work, particularly with architects just starting the profession? What are architects doing, from what you've seen, to compensate for the lack of work?

I am pleased that you discovered the blog and I appreciate your thoughts on my advice.

There are various estimates that between 30-40% of architects have lost their job in this current economic situation we are in -- In addition, many have been downsized meaning that you are now working less hours or received pay cuts.  Clearly, it is a tough road. 

With that said, I would still encourage you to pursue your passion - architecture. 

From what I have read and connections, architects are very creative; some are pursuing career fields/position in related disciplines.  Others are indeed leaving the profession - retiring earlier, etc.

Resources to consider include the following

Down Detour Rd: An Architect in Search of Practice – Eric J. Cesal

In my opinion, the education of an architect allows an individual to pursue a myriad of career fields including architecture.  I wish you the best.

Dr. Architecture

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Transfer to BArch or pursue MArch

I recently stumbled upon your blog while searching for information on Architectural degrees. I am currently a sophomore at DePaul University in Chicago studying Environmental Studies but I have since been thinking of majoring in Architecture.  Unfortunately, DePaul does not offer any degree in Architecture so I have been contemplating transferring to a school that offers a B.Arch.  

Is it possible to transfer into a B.Arch program as a junior or do you suggest I just enroll in a M.Arch after my undergraduate studies?  What are the pros and cons of a B.Arch compared to an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and then pursuing Architecture at graduate school?  Any information is greatly appreciated and I plan on ordering your book as soon as possible because I believe that it would definitely send me in the right direction.  

You could certainly transfer to a BArch program, but you will need to start in the first year as you would not have the design studios; most of credits from DePaul would not transfer except general education.  Most likely, it would take you five years to complete a BArch.

Instead, you could transfer to a 4+2 program (BS + MArch) like at the University of Illinois directly into their sophomore year as studios start in the 2nd year.  If you went this route, you would be a five year college student to obtain the BS degree but would still need to complete the MArch (2 years) afterwards.

With the above said, I would still recommend considering the MArch for those that have an undergraduate degree in another discipline (3-4 years).  As your degree is in environmental studies, you may wish to consider this route, but do you like DePaul?


Monday, October 17, 2011

Information about accrediation

I have completed my Bachelors of Architecture (B.Arch)  and Post Graduation in Construction Management (PGCM) from India. I have relocated to Santa Clara, CA few months back. I am looking forward to enroll into a master's program in San Fransisco Institute of Architecture (SFIA) or UC berkeley for students with architecture background. Both these programs do not have accreditation. Does accreditation carry weight-age during job search?

What are the disadvantages of earning a degree from universities that do not have accreditation?  I am also looking for jobs in architecture. Could you please forward me some leads/pointers for the same?

Below is a basic definition of accreditation as listed on the NAAB website (
What is accreditation?
Accreditation, in general, is a process of external quality review used to scrutinize colleges, universities and educational programs for quality assurance and quality improvement. In the United States, accreditation is carried out by private, nonprofit organizations designed for this specific purpose. Institutions and educational programs seek accredited status as a means of demonstrating their academic quality to students and the public

For you, accreditation may be important if you intend to become a licensed architect in the U.S.  Almost every jurisdiction requires an individual to have a professional accredited degree by NAAB to pursue licensure.

Of course, as you have an equivalent degree from India, you may pursue licensure and meet the education requirement through EESA - Evaluation Education Services for Architects (, a process done by NAAB.  As you will see, it is an expensive process (almost $2,000), but less monies that obtaining an additional degree.

Thus, your decision on pursuing an accredited degree or not depends on your longer term goals of becoming an architect in the U.S.

Dr. Architecture

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Architecture + Construction Alliance

I knew this group existed, but just learned of their website; of the over 100 accredited schools of architecture and 61 degree programs in construction in the nation, only the 14 universities which compose the alliance contain degree programs in both architecture and construction in the same college.


The Mission of the A+CA is to foster collaboration among schools that are committed to fostering interdisciplinary educational and research efforts between the fields of architecture and construction, and to engage leading professionals and educators in support of these efforts.


The professions of architecture and construction are undergoing significant changes as they respond to multiple demands and opportunities to increase collaborative project work. They are propelled by changed societal and client expectations to more fully coordinate their formerly separate roles and responsibilities for the social, environmental, and financial performance of projects, while Building Information Models (BIM) and other digital technology provide emerging new vehicles for integration.

These changes in our built environment professions need to be reflected in the education of future professionals, with a major emphasis on fostering superior interdisciplinary knowledge, and team 
based skills that support synergy and innovation in the 21st century professional context.

Given this imperative, a consortium of the universities in the US that have both architecture and construction programs within the same college are prepared to act together to foster the necessary interdisciplinary and collaborative education needed by our professions. Such an alliance of these universities has a unique ability to play a leadership role in the development, pilot testing, assessment, and dissemination of courses and projects through coordination of the faculty, staff, and financial support for this activity.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Best way to become a college architecture major

I'm a 16 year old high school junior and I have loved to design and draw houses and floor plans since I was at least 10 years old.  Can you please suggest some ways for me to increase my chances of getting into a strong architectural college program besides the obvious good grades and ACT score?  

I volunteer as a tour facilitator for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and I have attended a workshop at their studio as well as some held by the Chicago Architecture Foundation.  I also work as a part time receptionist for a landscape design company.  Currently, I am taking a computer graphics class in school and I have taken some art and drawing classes in the past.  I am a strong math and physics student too.  Beyond all this, should I be developing a portfolio?  Also, I understand internships aren't typically available for high school students so what kind of preparation would you suggest?  Thank you for your help.
Truly, the best way to ensure admission to your choice of architecture programs is contact them directly and ask how they make decisions.  Is it your credentials (transcript and test scores), portfolio (if required) or other factors like extra-curricular?  Clearly, most programs will consider your academics and test scores as most important.  Also, make sure you take the required courses needed for admission.

Aside for learning the factors program consider concentrate on doing your best in your courses. In addition, attempt to take art / drawing or other creative coursework that connects your brain, eye and hand.  This work will create materials for your portfolio.  Do not worry about taking any CAD courses as it is not necessary.  You can begin to document your previous artwork for a portfolio but you have time.  Consider visiting -- for ideas.  Do not be intimidated as these examples are college students. 

Another thought is to consider attending a summer program (see attached - last year, but websites should still work).  Of course, consider Discover Architecture at UIllinois.

As you work for a design firm (albeit as a receptionist), learn everything you can about landscape design from your employer.  Ask for connections for architecture firms or other design firms for an internship.  It is true that many firms do not hire high school students, some do. 

Keep in touch if you have other questions and I wish you the best.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Career Alternatives

Dr. Architecture,

I have seen your blog and I wanted to get your thoughts concerning career alternatives.  I am currently 45 years old with a wife and two young children.  I am the breadwinner in the household while my wife homeschools our children.  I have been interested in architecture for as long as I can remember -- especially old historic buildings.  However, when it came time to go to college, I opted to go into accounting because 1) I thought that I wouldn't be able to make a living in architecture, and 2) I lack good drawing/artistic skills.  After 20+ years in a career which bores me, I regret having not gone to architecture school, and at least tried architecture.  While it is, I suppose, still possible to return to school, it really is no longer a very practical alternative given my situation.  I was wondering if you had any thoughts concerning career alternatives for someone in my predicament.  Thanks. 


Thanks for taking the time to review the ARCHCareers blog.

At one level, I would say that you should go for it as you have plenty of productive work years remaining in your life; Philip Johnson, one of the most influential 20th century architects, practiced architecture until his death in his 90s after becoming licensed at 39.

With that said, I caution you because of the commitment in time and expense which may influence your decision as you are the breadwinner.  With your accounting degree, you could pursue a Master of Architecture (3-4 years), but you would need to take some drawing courses for purposes of a portfolio.

Besides the track of becoming an architect, I wonder if there are design related fields that you could pursue that may not take as long in terms of additional education but still provide your the career satisfaction that you are not currently getting.

I highly suggest the book -
What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles for insight.  You may also wish to consider contacting your alma mater to see how they help alum with career services.

As another route, see if you can pursue accounting work with an architecture or design firm.  In this way, you are connected to architecture.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Civic Engagement as an Emerging Professional - A few ideas for self-starters

Typically, I simply answer questions that I receive from aspiring architects, but having recently read this blog from Ashley Hand, I thought it would be worth encouraging you to read it.

Bottom line: Become involved!

Dr. Architecture

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mechanical Engineer to Architect

Dr. Architecture,
I am a licensed P.E. in the state of Alabama in Mechanical Engineering and have almost 20 years of experience (from machine design to more physics based applications). I have a Masters and Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering from Auburn University, but am now considering the idea of transitioning to Architecture. I am looking to  a supporting role in an architecture firm. What might the best path be? Are there any options for distance learning (even a subset of the coursework), that have accreditation? I am a military dependent living in Ohio, but we will settle in the state of Colorado within the next year. I realize that the education and licensure can be state dependent. I appreciate any help you might be.

First, congrats on your idea to pursue architecture.

Given your previous education, you may pursue the accredited Master of Architecture (3-4 years) at over 60 institutions around the country.  For the full list, visit -- NAAB - and ARCHSchools -

Unfortunately, there are no exclusively online degree programs in architecture for an individual that has a degree in another discipline.  With your moving to Colorado the only program in the states is University of Colorado - Denver.

Now, given your discipline is mechanical engineering, you may be able to pursue a position within a AE / EA firm which would allow you to contribute (not as an architect).

I would begin the process of networking through the professional association - AIA - American Institute of Architects and contact a few firms for possible positions.


51 - Too late in life to become an architect?

Trying how to ask this...but I'll just do it. I'm 51 and I want to pursue it too late in life with the education,experience,exams that are required?. Took me so long to realize I should of majored in architecture instead of business. sigh....frustrated...thanks if you can answer.....

First, no regret.  Live in the here and now.

From my experience of working in architectural education for almost 20 years, I would say that you are NOT too old to become an architect.  If we assume that you practice into your 70s or 80s, you still have a minimum of 20-30 years in the profession. 

Philip Johnson, one of the greatest architects of the 20th century, became an architect at age 39 and practiced architecture until his death in his nineties. Frank Gehry is currently practicing architecture and turned 80 this year. You have plenty of good years to practice architecture.

In a previous position, we had a student that returned to school in his early 50s like you.  He completed the Master of Architecture degree and is now close to being an architect.

The question is your commitment for the field and situation in life. Can you commit to the education of an architect?

You are not too old! Start the process of researching programs through -- or --.

Of course, if the road to becoming an architect is too long, consider entering the profession or the built environment industry through another path.

Dr. Architecture