Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Architect in Third World Countries

As a junior in high school, my knowledge of architecture and its different branches is limited. What I do know is that I love to design, create and build. As I plan for my future, I see myself becoming either an interior designer or an architect. Currently I am leaning more towards architecture. As far as colleges go, I visited the University of Cincinnati in Ohio and loved it, but I have also been looking into UC Berkeley, specifically their department of Environmental Design and Urbanism in Developing Countries. You see, I am very much interested in working overseas as well. I have a passion for helping the impoverished and am hoping to use my skills as an architect to benefit society.  

As far as my education goes, I am thinking about a major in architecture focusing on sustainable design with a minor in cultural anthropology. I am hoping that this will prepare me to work on projects overseas in underdeveloped communities.
Recently I came across the organization, Architecture for Humanity and also a book titled NEEDS: Architecture in Developing Countries which highlighted 16 different projects across the world in building sustainable design in rural and impoverished communities. 

I am wondering what your thoughts are on this specific career path. I know there is a high demand for engineers in developing countries, but not so much for designers. Is becoming a “third world” architect even practical? And are there other architects who share my desire to truly help society and change lives?
First, I applaud your thought process on your future career paths.  If you can envision your future, making it happen is the easy part. 

As you note, pursuing a career as an architect or designer in a third world country may be a challenge, but is worth the effort.  I do think a number of architects share your passion to help society and change lives.  Consider the following resources in planning and launching your career.  Not all are international, but would be helpful.  After the list of associations are books to consider obtaining --

If you have not heard of him, I would begin to model yourself after Cameron Sinclair, the founder of Architecture for Humanity -

Best and let me know how else I can help.

1201 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20525
AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs that engage more than 50,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment.

Architects without Borders
295 Neva Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472                     
Architects without borders is a non-governmental, not-for-profit, volunteer humanitarian relief organization

Architecture for Humanity

848 Folsom, Suite 201
San Francisco, CA 94107-1173
Architecture for Humanity promotes architectural and design solutions to global, social and humanitarian crises.  Through competitions, workshops, educational forums, partnerships with aid organizations and other activities, Architecture for Humanity creates opportunities for architects and designers from around the world to help communities in need.

Architects, Designers, and Planners for Social Responsibility

P.O. Box 18375
Washington, DC 20036-8375
Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) works for peace, environmental protection, ecological building, social justice, and the development of healthy communities.

Association for Community Design (ACD)
P.O. Box 712308
Los Angeles, CA 90071-7308 USA
Established in 1977, the Association for Community Design (ACD) is a network of individuals, organizations, and institutions committed to increasing the capacity of planning and design professions to better serve communities.  ACD serves and supports practitioners, educators, and organizations engaged in community-based design and planning.

Design Corps
302 Jefferson Street #250
Raleigh, NC 27605
Founded in 1991, Design Corps is a private nonprofit that was created to coordinate design services that help create responsive affordable housing.  Respect for those housed, the local communities and cultures involved are encouraged. Motto: Design for the 98% Without Architects.

Habitat For Humanity International
121 Habitat St.
Americus, GA 31709-3498
(229) 924-6935
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit Christian housing ministry that works to build or renovate homes for the inadequately sheltered in the United States and in twenty countries around the world.

The Mad Housers, Inc.
534 Permalume Place
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 806-6233
Mad Housers, Inc. is an Atlanta-based non-profit corporation engaged in charitable work, research, and education.  Their primary endeavor is building temporary, emergency shelters for homeless individuals and families regardless of race, creed, national origin, gender, religion, age, family status, sexual orientation, etc.

Peace Corps
Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Headquarters
1111 20th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20526
Established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps has shared with the world America's most precious resource—its people.  Peace Corps Volunteers serve in 72 countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, and the Middle East.  Collaborating with local community members, volunteers work in areas like education, youth outreach and community development, the environment, and information technology.

Public Architecture
1126 Folsom St., #3
San Francisco, CA 94102-1397
Established in 2002, Public Architecture is a nonprofit organization that identifies and solves practical problems of human interaction in the built environment.  It acts as a catalyst for public discourse through education, advocacy, and the design of public spaces and amenities.

Architecture for Humanity, (2006). Design Like You Give a Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises. New York, NY: Metroplis Books. ISBN – 1-933-04525-6
Design Like You Give a Damn is a compendium of innovative projects from around the world that demonstrate the power of design to improve lives.  The first book to bring the best of humanitarian architecture and design to the printed page, Design Like You Give a Damn offers a history of the movement toward socially conscious design, and showcases more than 80 contemporary solutions to such urgent needs as basic shelter, healthcare, education and access to clean water, energy and sanitation.

Bell, Bryan (2003). Good Deeds, Good Design: Community Service Through Architecture.  Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN: 1-5689-8391-3
Good Deeds, Good Design presents the best new thoughts and practices in this emerging movement toward an architecture that serves a broader population. In this book, architecture firms, community design centers, design/build programs, and service-based organizations offer their plans for buildings for the other ninety-eight percent

Bell, Bryan and Wakeford, Katie (eds.) (2008). Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism. Metropolis Books. ISBN: 1-9330-4578-7
Expanding Architecture presents a new generation of creative design carried out in the service of the greater public and the greater good. Questioning how design can improve daily lives, editors Bryan Bell and Katie Wakeford map an emerging geography of architectural activism--or "public-interest architecture"--that might function akin to public-interest law or medicine by expanding architecture's all too often elite client base.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Internship in another Country

I'm a 5th year architecture student from the Philippines and will be graduating by March of this year. I am planning on taking on an internship in another country (maybe singapore or canada) and was wondering, with just about 2 months of previous architecture internship experience, is that enough to help me qualify for an internship with a foreign company? Also, I would like to ask if companies today are really open to foreign interns?
My true expertise is becoming an architect in the U.S., not other countries.  With that said, I cannot address the work permit issue that comes from working in one country when an individual is from another county.

However, I always think it is worth applying for positions, internship or otherwise.  Granted, you would have two months previous experience, but that should not stop you from applying.  You may wish to network to the extent you can to gain access to firms in which you are interested.

You never truly know the answer to your question unless you contact them.  Also, why do you wish to work in another country?

Dr. Architecture

Sunday, February 19, 2012

BA (hons) interior design to M.Arch program

I am having difficulties in making decision. I was wondering whether you can help me.  I am currently a diploma graduate with electronics engineering. But i am interested in architecture and want to pursue study in architecture field.

I applied BA (hons) interior design (3 yrs) program at Lasalle college of arts (singapore)  and also B.Arch architecture (4 yrs) at NUS (singapore) a few months ago. I have got offer letter from Lasalle college for interior design program. But for BArch program at NUS, the admin replied me that my diploma is not applicable for BArch architecture program at NUS. So, they might reject my application.

My point here is, should I take the offer from Lasalle and go for BA(hons) interior design (3yrs) first and after graduate, go for M.Arch ( which u mentioned in some post that it is applicable to apply to M.Arch with interior design degree and good portfolios). Or, should I take some relevant short-termed certificate course to get to B.Arch program at NUS for next year intake?

The key to making an important decision is having all the information you need to make the decision; as well, what are the most important criteria when making this decision - time to graduation, cost, other?

As I am not familiar with the degrees you outline, it is hard for me to provide any direct insight.  From working with many students over the years, most will typically take the most direct path to graduation.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lateral Entry into Architecture

Originally ten years ago i wanted to study architecture, but i wasn't sure about it and the general opinion about job-possibilites after graduation was bad at that time, similar to nowadays. Looking back now i know that it was a bad idea to let me influence through these opinions. I'm now 31 have a bachelor degree in sportscience and business administration and working in marketing for an IT company. So far it doesn't sound bad, but i'm totally unhappy with it. I've a good spatial sense, good taste concerning colours, pattern and i can draw good (especially when it goes into detail and
exact proportions of objects), so I want to use this talent to create space, buildings, interiour.

I'm thinking about studying again, this time architecture. But if it would be possible i would do rather a master degree than a bachelor one, of course i do not want to waste any time anymore. I tried to find some examples of people who started as well late with architecture and earn enough money to make a living, but i couldn't. I'm curious about your opinion. Do you know anybody at this age who went
into architecture? -what do you think about Master Degrees (3 Years) which are designed for people who have no architecture background so far? Which of these are recommendable? An important point is as well the question about the financing. Without studentship and additional work i won't be able to afford it.

Therefore I'm thinking about alternatives. Is there any design field which is complementary to architecture and maybe easier to access and in demand?

Any advise and hints are helpful!

Although you are a little older (31), you can still pursue your dream of becoming an architect.  Given you have a degree albeit in another discipline, you can pursue the Master of Architecture (3-4 years) for individuals that have a degree in another discipline.  For a list of programs that offer such a degree, visit both NAAB ( and  Just be sure you pursue an accredited degree as it is necessary for licensure.

In my almost 20 years of working in three different architecture programs (IIT, Maryland, and University of Illinois).  I have know plenty of individuals who were your age or older.  Philip Johnson, one of the greatest architects in the 20th century did not become an architect until 39; he practiced until his death in his 90s.  Other than the financial impact, I would not worry about your age - besides, you have something that other do not - another degree.

Most graduate programs do offer assistantships and fellowships, but you would need to check with individual programs.  Given your background, you may be able to contribute to the program.

As for other career fields connected to architecture, you may consider any of the following:

Interior Design

Construction Management
Landscape Architecture
Urban Planning
Graphic Design
Product Design

You may also try to pursue employment in a design firm doing what you do now.  You would not be doing architecture, but you would be engaged in the environment.

Embarking on a Career in Architecture: Worth It?

As I embark on this path to a career in architecture, I'm very excited but also a little worried. I've been reading up a lot on what it takes to be an architect and stay an architect. It sounds like incredibly hard work and dedication, and the compensation is often not commensurate. While I am entirely willing to put in any amount of work into something I'm passionate about, I am worried about making a decent living - for myself and people dependent on me, both currently and in the future. 

As someone with extensive knowledge and years of research about the field, I'd love to get your take on this work-pay balance that architects deal with. Specifically, how long do you think it takes on average for a fresh graduate with an M. Arch degree to "get established" in the field? I understand that is a nebulous question; I guess I'm wondering when, if ever, I could stop worrying about sub-par pay and job security in the field. If the answer is never, I'd still like to know that and make an informed decision before heading down this path.
 First, all that you state about a career in architecture is true -- it is challenging work and does require passion and dedication.  Some would certainly say that the financial compensation is not adequate.  Despite these apparent negatives, career satisfaction among architects is extremely high; over 80% of architects would choose to do it again.

As for when you will "make," that very much depends on you.  Although, there is somewhat of an understanding that traditional age students will take until their 40s or 50s to be established.  Of course, there are exceptions.  Also, this is not to suggest that you must wait until mid-life to enjoy success.

With that said, the current economy will NOT let you stop worrying about your future in the profession.  The profession of architecture has been hit hard, but you can succeed if you choose to make it.

Dr. Architecture

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Launching your Career!

Hello Dr Architecture,
I am a senior attending a high school in Boston. I started to express interest in Architecture during my Sophomore year, but I really began to decide on my major at the end of junior year. After being accepted to WIT BS-ARCH program, I have been looking for different ways to really kick start my way into developing the skills and the mentality to a career in architecture.

Classes I have taken that I believe help are: 2 years of adv art, 1 year of Physics (highschool level), 1 year or precalc, and 1 year of Geometry.

In what ways can I prepare myself for the college courses and the architectural college life.


First, congrats on your admission to WIT.

At this point (prior to starting college), there are many ways that you can begin your preparation and career in architecture.  Below are just to get you started.

1) See - one of the most important skills of an architect is "to see."  Every day, truly see the built environment around you.  Take notice of details, buildings, and how people use the buidings.

2) Sketch - if you do not already, begin to draw/sketch every day.  Document what you see and develop your hand skills.

3) Read - go to the public library and read about architecture.  At this point, it does not matter the book; besides most architecture books are mostly images.

4) Visit online - there are many online architecture magazines and journals; take the time to visit, read, and see the images.

5) Connect - to the extent possible, connect with architects or current architecture students at WIT.

6) Obtain a Mentor - Through your contacts, find a mentor that you can tap as a resource for the rest of your career.

That is a start, there are many others -- Best in your launching your career.

BArch or MArch?

I just came across your website/blog. and I thought you're the perfect person for me to ask a question which I desperately need an answer to. 

I did my Bachelor in Interior Design, worked for a year then started my MSc in Sustainable Design of the Built Environment, which I'll be finishing off this June. I am now really interested in architecture and I'm looking to further continue my studies to be able to become an architect. 

My problem is I don't know whether to go for a BArch or MArch. I am really confused. I would really appreciate your insight on this? 

I hope I'm not bothering you. After going through your blog, I am under the impression that you help people in Architecture topics?

Many thanks and regards
I am pleased to help.

Given you have (will have) two degrees, you should consider applying to the Master of Architecture (3-4 years) designed for those that already have a degree.  Available at over 50 institutions, these degrees started in the 1980s as more and more individuals with a degree in another discipline were pursuing degrees in architecture.

If you were to pursue a BArch, it would take you a minimum of four and maybe the full five years because of the studio sequence.

A resource for you is, a database of accredited degree programs.

I hope this helps!  

Foreign Architect

I am writing to find out if I can practice as an architect in Massachusetts following a BArch from a state university in Malaysia.  The name of the school is Universiti Sains Malaysia (
Who should I talk to concerning my question? Please advise. 

I hold a degree in Economics and an MBA and have worked in the high-tech corp for 12 years. I'm currently evaluating my career and would like to go back to school in architecture, something that I've always wanted to study. 

Many thanks

Bottom line, you can become licensed in Massachusetts and the U.S. from the degree you list below, but the process is more longer and more complicated with a foreign degree.

Your best source for more information is the following:

EESA - Education Evaluation Services for Architects - as your degree would be a foreign country, you would need to have it evaluated against the NCARB Education Standard. (

NCARB - Foreign Architects - outlines what is needed. (

Another route that may be more challenging and expensive is to purse the NAAB accredited Master of Architecture (3-4 years) from a U.S. institution.  Just a thought.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Summer Programs - College Graduate

I am an ardent fan and follower of your website and ArchCareers blog. Thank you so much for providing these outstanding resources to the community.

I'm writing to you to inquire about certain summer architecture programs. Before I go into that, my background:

I'm enrolled in a three year college program in animation and design in India. I will be receiving my bachelor's degree next year. Over the past couple of years, I've become fascinated by the study or architecture. I'd love to get an M. Arch degree, but it is literally impossible for students from
non-architecture backgrounds to apply to M. Arch programs in India. I thus began looking into M.Arch programs in the US, and was glad to notice how accepting the universities were of non-arch majors into their respective M. Arch 1 programs.

As a first major step toward this goal, I'm applying to summer programs in the US. From the extensive list you have so carefully compiled on, I narrowed it down to 3 programs that take international college-level students and provide documents for obtaining a student visa for the summer. They are:

1) [IN]ARCH, at UC-Berkeley

2) Jumpstart: Intro to Architecture, at UCLA

3) Intro to Architecture Summer Program at Cornell

In addition to these programs, the Summer Discovery Program at GSD Harvard also accepts and provides visas to international students, but unfortunately the start date is much earlier than other programs, and I will not be done with my Spring semester in college by then. So my choices at the moment are limited to the three programs listed above.

As a student with limited financial resources, limited guidance from my college and from family, and limited time left to put together a strong application, I'd like to make the best use of every opportunity
I am fortunate to get.

My question to you is: among these programs, which one would you consider especially strong, or especially beneficial in furthering a grad school application? Alternatively, would you suggest another
activity this summer that might be more productive and conducive to grad school admissions?

Thanks in advance.  I value your time and opinion, and could use your expert advice in this matter.

Best regards

First, thanks for your comments on my blog - ARCHCareers.

In the U.S., over 50 architecture programs offer a Master of Architecture for those with an undergraduate degree in another discipline.  The best resource for learning of these programs is  While you do need to create a login and password, the resource is free and provides you the opportunity to search them.

To address your primary question, I apologize in advance for not being to address it as I have not had any direct experience with them.  I can offer two suggestions - 1) contact them directly via email and ask them direct questions you are seeking; 2) another is to post a question to which I now see you have already done.

As for other activities during the summer, I would encourage you to immerse yourself in architecture - reading, sketching, drawing, seeing, etc.  As you apply to graduate programs, you will need a portfolio; while you have a more design related degree, consider a art/drawing course to help with the creating of your portfolio.

Best and keep in touch.

Becoming an Architecture from High School

i am a high school student in Missouri.  I have always enjoyed drawing buildings and making stuff with my hands.  The more I read about architects the more I would wanted to become one, but I do not know exactly what I need to do to become one or what I need to take in high school.  If you could help me that would be great.  Thanks and have a great day 

First, I will provide you with the basics of pursing architecture, but I will also provide you with resources on the process.

Basically, there are three tasks that you must complete to become an architect - 1) education (professional NAAB accredited degree -; 2) experience (completion of Intern Development Program (IDP); and examination (passing, the Architect Registration Examination (ARE)  In a nutshell, that is the process of becoming an architect.

Now for resources -- - a website dedicated to the process of becoming an architect; includes a list of summer programs that I would encourage you to pursue including the University of Illinois -

Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design - 2nd Edition - - a book outlining the process of becoming an architect; includes interviews with over 50 students, interns, and architects.

Occupational Outlook Handbook - - a resource providing details on the occupation of architect including employment projections.

ARCHCareers Blog - - a blog dedicated to questions and answers that I receive.

This is a good start for you; as I do not want to overwhelm you, start with this material and write back when you have more questions.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Psychology to Architecture - Which Path?

I am determined to pursue a degree in Architecture after reassessing my career path. I graduated Rutgers with a degree in Psychology but art and technical strategy has always been my passion.
Without a bachelors degree in Architecture and no previous experience do you recommend that I return to school to attain a BA followed by a M.Arch? I should mention that my GPA was below a 3.0 and I have not taken the GRE.  

I would like to know what the best route is to take given my particular situation. I know if I  apply my energy to a career path that is my passion I will excel and recognize that it may be a long process.

Thank you in advance for your help. 

Given that you have an undergraduate degree in psychology, you would be best served to pursue the Master of Architecture (3-4 years) for those with a degree other than architecture.  Of course, you will need a portfolio to apply to a graduate degree; for that reason plus your GPA, you may wish to take some art/life drawing courses.

If you live near an architecture program, schedule an appt. to discuss your background and goals of becoming an architect.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sense of Direction?

i am a big follower of your blog and i want to say thanks for giving aspiring architects a direct contact with you. My reasons behind writing you is because I am totally lost. I love architecture for its design sense and want to go in that direction only. What should my major be at school and do I have to go to a NAAB school to be successful? These questions may seem really remedial, but I know the field of architecture is very broad and I just want to head in the right direction. 

You say that you love architecture, but do you wish to be an architect?  If so, I would advise you to pursue a NAAB accredited degree as it is necessary in almost all jurisdictions to become an architect.  With that said, you could pursue architecture as an undergraduate (BArch), graduate (BS + MArch) or graduate (BA + MArch).  The last route allows you to pursue any major as an undergraduate; select a major that you will enjoy and succeed.

Also, to help, visit the blog - and search on topics of interest.

Another resource to help you is Becoming an Architect, 2nd Ed.

Best - Dr. Architecture

Educational Qualifications

I wanted to take architecture as a career and wanted to pursue it in The States or The United Kingdom. But, i can't decide whether I should take Physics with Maths in the next two final years of my school or take a combination of Geography+Maths+ Psychology+Economics and then do Architecture! 

Will it be necessary for me to do Physics with maths for the next two years or can I take the above mentioned combination which will help me achieve a better percentage? Taking Physics and maths may pull me down and not help me score very high, whereas the Humanities combo may help me attain an excellent final result after which I can get an admission to any college of my preference. But, if i take Humanities next year, will I still be eligible to do architecture in the USA or the UK? 

Congrats on your decision to pursue architecture.  As I am in the United States, I will address your questions from that perspective; please note that are some differences between U.S. and U.K.

From a preparation standpoint, the physics/mathematics sequence would be better for you.  I recognize that that sequence may be more challenging, but it will provide better preparation for you.  Ultimately, the decision is up to you.

To be sure, you may wish to contact architecture programs (  Most architecture programs in the U.S. will require four years of mathematics courses and three-four science courses from high school. 

Dr. Architecture 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

San Luis Obispo Architecture Summer Program

My son, currently a high school sophomore, is interested in the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Architecture Summer Career Workshop. We have read all the materials provided on line by the program, but feel we could better assess the program if we could obtain additional information from independent sources. In several hours of web searching, I've come across your ARCHCareers blog several times, and can see the care and experience you put into your answers to other questioners. My question is relatively simple.

As with many things outside one's direct experience base, it's hard to determine, from a brief program description, what kinds of experiences a student would have in the program; what happens on a day-to-day basis? is it more theoretical or hands-on? what would be learned? what happens during the off hours? However, I am not asking you to answer these questions directly. What I am really looking for is a path to getting information from someone who has actually gone through the program. 

My understanding is that the program at SLO has been running for many years, and I assume there are at least several hundred people who've spent a summer there during high school over the past two decades. I would have expected at least some of them to have written a review, or blog, or some kind of comment about their experience. However, after several hours of searching the web, I've found not a single sentence written by someone about their experience there. Perhaps I just don't know where to look. So my question to you: do you know of any sources for such a review?  Alternatively, do you know any graduates of this program who would be willing to correspond?

With respect to your question, I know of no resources that directly provides reviews on the Architecture Summer Career Workshop at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.  Having been involved with summer programs at three institutions including my current, the University of Illinois, I would suggest you contact the director of the program and ask for referrals and well as a better description on the program.
Mark Cabrinha -
California Poly State Univ. - SLO
One Grand Ave.
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
Wk: (805) 756-1316

Archinect - - does maintain a forum that you could post your question to solicit feedback.

Also, below is a link to an article on summer programs that I helped make happen with Architect Magazine.

Design Camp - Architect Magazine (September 2010)

For a list of all summer programs - visit -

I am sorry that I cannot be of more assistance, but do let me know if you have other questions as your son launches a career in architecture.  To that end, consider obtaining my book, Becoming an Architect, 2nd Edition.

Dr. Architecture