Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Licensing for foreign architects

I am sending you seeking your advice regarding becoming a licensed architect in the USA.

I finished my architectural studies from the German Jordanian University in Amman, Jordan and I hold a Bachelor of Architecture degree. 

I have been researching the process for becoming a licensed architect and I need to know first if my school is an accredited university by the NAAB. I sent them an email with my request but was not lucky and got no response. Any suggestions where can I get such information? I tried the NAAB website but also wasn't lucky enough.

Do you think I have good chances of becoming a licensed architect in USA since I am not American and I did not get my degree from an accredited school in the USA? I know it is a long process and I am willing to go through it till the end but has it happened before that non-American architects get the license and are allowed to work in USA?

Thank you for your help, looking forward to hear from you soon.

First, I can say with certainty that your degree is not accredited by NAAB, but you can still pursue licensure in the U.S. 

Next, I would suggest you review the following website:
If you do not qualify for the BEFA or choose to pursue the traditional path toward licensure, the three main requirements you must fulfill to be licensed in a U.S. jurisdiction include education, experience, and examination. Recognize that not all jurisdictions have adopted NCARB's education and experience standards. All questions regarding your eligibility must be directed to your jurisdiction’s registration board.

Do recognize that you apply for licensure with a particular state, but NCARB facilitates the process for documenting your education, experience, and examination.

You will need to have your education evaluated via EESA; below is their website.

There is certainly a good chance of becoming licensed if your education is equivalent to the NCARB Education Standard, you complete IDP and pass the ARE.

Contact EESA or NCARB with more detailed questions.  Best!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Architect at 49?

I read your blog. I'm writing you because I'm specifically interested in green/eco architecture especially for homes. I live in Boston Mass. 

I watch my 11 year old son Christopher and its obvious even at the age of 3 he will become an architect because of his love and creativity for building only grows stronger. Lately the two of us sit around talking about and researching eco communities and how to build them. He reminds me of my love for architecture both homes and landscaping. However, when I was young women really weren't encouraged to go into that field other than interior design.

My field of study was education which I hold a Masters Degree and have been a trainer and designer for 25 years now I help people live in strong, fit bodies. I'm currently working with Tufts university as a program leader for their VIVE research program which takes older adults and puts them through a fitness and nutritional program to test the program in senior housing facilities. Although I enjoy what I do and it helps people my passion has always been architecture and landscaping. I sold Real Estate just to get inside homes. I  have a passion for organic farming and healthy environmental building and living. I'm one of those people I see things in my head and now I want to put idealism and practical ideas together. 

I want to know what is the best way for me to get into this field? I know being 49 and going back to school is not an advantage other than the fact I have life experience and a disciplined work ethic. I'm also great with working with people and on teams as a leader. What would be my best venue? I want to inspire my son at an any age we can live our dreams and at his early age this is a great field for his creativity.

Congratulations on your desire to become an architect.

Simply put, you need to complete the following: 1) NAAB accredited architecture degree, 2) Intern Development Program (IDP) - experience under the supervision of an architect; and 3) passing all divisions of the ARE - Architect Registration Examination.  Sounds easy enough, but you are looking at about 6-8 years to complete all three.

Given you have a degree (albeit different discipline), you are eligible to apply to a Master of Architecture (3-4 years) for those with a degree in a discipline other than architecture.  You can start researching schools by looking at -- and -- You may also wish to be in touch with Boston Architectural College and/or the Boston Architectural Society.

As you are in Boston, you may wish to attend the New England Career Day in Architecture held on Saturday, October 27 at Wentworth Inst. of Technology.  - - I am always there to represent my institution and provide a workshop on selecting a school.

This should get you started.  Contact me with more questions as needed.

College Decision?

I saw one of your posts in Archinect and I would really appreciate it if you could help me make a decision.
I am a transfer student and I need to make a decision between USC and Cal Poly SLO. I am planning on attending an MArch II program after my BArch. I am from LA and USC is giving me enough scholarship to cover my living and school expenses while Cal Poly covers my tuition only. However Cal Poly gave me a third year placement while USC is a second year placement. I would really really appreciate it if you could let me know what you think. Which school will best prepare me as an architect and which one will maximize my chances of getting into a well known MArch II program like GSD or Yale. 
I know that Cal Poly has a more engineering based approach while USC has great networking and I think both are important but I really don't know which one is the most important. 

Thanks again for your time.
I will provide some insight on how to approach the decision before you, but will NOT make it for you.

As I share with others, you must first determine what criteria are most important to you when making the decision.  For example, reputation, location, faculty, facilities, cost, etc. are possible criteria.  Once you determine the criteria, you compare each of your choices (USC and Cal Poly SLO) against your criteria.  Try to avoid comparing the two schools against each other.  As you rank each school against your criteria, you will discover which school best fits your most important criteria.  Thus, you have made your decision.

Please realize that this is not an exact science but does help you determine what is more important.

You must determine which is most important as you are the one attending the program.

Dr. Architecture

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Architecture at age of 45?

What would you say to someone considering architecture as a second career at the age of forty five?

Thank you for any response (even if it is a loud "heck no!"). And thank you for your writings on the profession.


 Given my experience in the profession, I would never say NO to someone wishing to pursue architecture.  Many will regardless of your age.

Philip Johnson, one of the 20th c. most influential architects, became an architect at age 39 and practiced until his death at age 98.  If you have the passion and fully understand the sacrifices you will need to make, I say go for it.

When I was at Maryland, one student began his Master of Architecture in his late 40s and was fully employed in the profession after graduation.  It is not an easy road but you bring something to the table that younger students do not - experience and wisdom.

Best to you in your pursuits and contact me again if necessary. 

Dr. Architecture 

Education in India vs. United States.

I am a student from India. I have completed my higher secondary education and I want to study architecture (5-year B.arch ). I want to ask you that will it make any difference to me if I do it India and if I do it from USA.

What will be the difference between a student graduating from India  and from USA? I am confused about  studying architecture in India or in USA . Will you please guide me?

Given I know nothing of architectural education in India, it is difficult for me to answer your question.  One issue to consider is what you wish to do with regards to architecture longer term.

Instead, I suggest you visit the following websites to learn more about the institutions that offer architecture programs in the U.S. --
- National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) - Guide to Architecture Schools.

You should know that the BArch is not the only path to pursue the accredited degree in the U.S.; you can pursue the pre-professional degree and afterwards pursue the Master of Architecture.

Another resource is Becoming an Architect, 2nd edition.

Dr. Architecture

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Interior Design Student contemplating Grad School

An admissions administrator from the University of British Colombia recommended that I read your blog.  I am so glad she did.  I have a few questions for you.

First a little background:  I am about to complete a degree in Interior Design.  While completing my degree, I realized that my passion really is architecture and urban planning and would like to pursue a license in architecture in addition to being a certified interior designer in the future.  I have looked at all of the pathways to becoming licensed and I know that if I can find a firm to take me on, I can begin IDP in about a year.  I am trying my hardest to go that route because I am scared of the financial commitment that graduate school entails.  But, just in case my dream scenario doesn't happen, I am applying to graduate school as a back up plan.

Question #1:  When in a full time graduate program, how realistic is it to be working full or part time?  And do many students double up and do IDP simultaneously?  I know my studio design classes right now take a lot of time and I am only a part time student.

Question #2:  Although my portfolio is good and very well-rounded for an interior design student, I have seen a few fifth year architecture students portfolios and I find them to be somewhat intimidating.  Do I need to streamline my portfolio and beef up my projects to be more architectural?  What are admissions persons looking for?  UBC is a 3.5 year program and they take students from all disciplines, but I would like to apply to some schools in California, as well, and I am worried about my ability to compete.  If you have any advice for interior design students at all, I would be glad to hear it.  

Thank you so very much
Just a side note that my expertise is becoming an architect in the U.S. and not Canada.

Answers to your questions --

#1 It is extremely unrealistic to think you can attend a graduate program in architecture and work at the same time especially to earn IDP.  Graduate studies are very demanding.  Depending on the program, you may be able to work 10-15 hours per week in a firm, but IDP requires a minimum number of hours for six months to be counted.  Of course, there are programs that require a work component with their studies - Boston Architectural College and UCincinnati are two.

#2 As you applying to MArch programs with a degree in interior design, the programs are not expecting architectural work; they are expecting interior design work.  The best source to know what they are seeking is to contact the programs directly and ask what they look for in an applicant's portfolio.  Of course, they do look at the portfolio as an indicator of your work so design it well.  One resource to consider is Portfolio Design by Harold Linton --

Remember, if you wish to pursue becoming a licensed architect, you must have an NAAB/CACB accredited degree.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Drawing Skills necessary to become an Architect?

All of my life that I can remember, I've been interested in buildings. I have watched HGTV frequently since my early teens, which, compared to other teenagers, I consider slightly abnormal. Architecture is probably one of my few deep interests.

I'm now 17 and just completed junior year in high school. Throughout all of my school years I've gotten As, and I've taken AP English and Chemistry classes. I've gotten decent ACT (28) and SAT (1850) scores. I've also taken CAD classes (dual credit) for the past two years, earning both As and praise from my teacher. I've heard photography helps as well, and I've been very interested in that. I've taken classes from a professional photographer who is a family friend. I'm even taking my own senior pictures this year.

I consider myself very interested in becoming an architect.

However, more recently it has come to my attention the amount of art classes that architecture students have to take. I can draw a decent stick figure, but really that's about it. I used to take art in elementary school and was good, but I stopped after 5th grade and my drawing skills have suffered immensely.

Honestly I'm not ready to give up on my dream of being an architect, but I'm worried about the art classes. Are the classes really as prevalent as I've heard? Is the fact that I lack drawing skills enough for me to not pursue architecture? Are there other architecture related careers that do not involve as much art? Does my adequacy in CAD drawing alleviate some of the drawing pressure? Does my background in photography help? What do the colleges expect from incoming architecture students? What advice would you give to someone in my situation?

First, congrats on your desire to pursue architecture and your academic successes.

Please let me provide some insight on an architectural education; in my opinion, it takes three things to be a successful architecture student - 1) intelligence, 2) creativity, and 3) passion/dedication.  The best part is that you only need two out of the three.

Having worked at three architecture programs, I would not worry about the art courses.  Architecture is not about art, but it is about creativity and the ability to communicate your ideas.  Architects do use hand-drawings and sketches to communicate their design ideas, but also use computers to do so.

How much graphic courses you take will depend on the program you select.  Some programs have an ART emphasis - Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) or Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), but others do not.  Some require a portfolio from high school applicants, but others do not.

Do not get me wrong -- you will need to draw, but you admit that you were good, but you are out of practice.  If possible, take an art/drawing course in your senior year.  If that is not possible, simply draw for 30 minutes every day drawing every day objects -- do not worry about the quality of the drawings -- instead, work on developing the habit to draw and see.  That is important in architecture.

Keep asking questions of the profession, potential architecture programs and of me as appropriate.  I would still consider architecture as a career choice, but continue to learn more.