Thursday, August 30, 2012

Transfer to Architecture

I'd really appreciate any information you can provide me with. The story goes: I just finished my first year in architectural engineering at Penn State this past May and am currently taking a year off after my family ran into financial issues over the summer. I'm looking to transfer to a Florida school (being a Florida resident it would be much cheaper), but I want to go into architecture. I just started researching all this information a few weeks ago, so I'm not really clear as to what it is that I'm looking for as far as architecture programs.

I found that there are only three schools offering a NAAB accredited B.Arch, one of which is an expensive private school, one of which is in a fairly bad area, and the other a school that I'd never heard of until starting my research. There are other larger name schools that offer Bachelors of Arts or Science in Architecture, but I'm wondering what the difference is. Will one allow me to begin my career out of undergraduate school and the other require more years? Should I be applying to these non-accredited programs or is that not a bright idea? I'm just very worried that I'm already missing out on a year of school and I don't want to waste any more time. I apologize for taking up you any of your time.

First, thanks for reaching out to me to gain some insight on "becoming an architect."  I would very much suggest you obtain a copy of my book, Becoming an Architect, 2nd ed., as it will answer many of the questions you have but I will address what you ask below.

Next, to meet the educational requirements of becoming an architect, you need a NAAB accredited professional degree; this can be accomplished by the traditional 5-year Bachelor of Architecture or the 4+2 years Bachelor of Arts/Science in Architecture + Master of Architecture.  In other words, it is OK to pursue the four-year undergraduate degree as long as you recognize that you will need to pursue the two-year Master of Architecture.

Given your year at PSU, it is unlikely that you will be able to transfer into the 2nd year of the Bachelor of Architecture because of courses you will have missed; it will probably take a full five years to complete.  For this reason, the 4+2 route may be better for you.  You would still have five more years of school - three years to complete the four-year undergraduate degree and two years for the Master of Architecture.

To view all of the accredited programs in Florida, visit -- see below.

Florida A & M University School of Architecture View
Florida Atlantic University School of Architecture View
Florida International University School of Architecture View
University of Florida School of Architecture View
University of Miami School of Architecture View
University of South Florida School of Architecture and Community Design View

Now, one program to consider is the University of Central Florida - -- They have a new four-year degree that is public which would feed to a Master of Architecture
-- below is from the website.
In collaboration with Valencia Community College and the University of Florida (UF), UCF offers the Bachelor of Design in Architecture. Through the 2+2+2 program, you can complete your associate’s degree at Valencia, your bachelor’s degree at UCF and your master’s degree at UF. It’s convenient, affordable and flexible.

So, you might be able to attend Valencia next year, proceed to UCF and move to UF for the Master of Architecture.

Also, do not eliminate the other programs just because they are private or you do not know anything about them.  Sometimes, private institutions provide more financial aid.

During your year off, look to take a few preparatory courses based on conversations with these potential programs.  Draw, sketch, draw what you see.  Visit architectures - look at your surroundings.

Have fun and feel free to contact me again if you have more questions.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Chicago Architecture + Design College Day

Chicago Career Day 2012 for
Architecture, Interior Design, Construction Management
and Landscape Architecture to be held at Illinois Institute of Technology

CHICAGO – The Consortium for Design and Construction Careers is pleased to announce the return of the Chicago Architecture + Design College Day. Held on Saturday, September 15th, 2012 from 10:00 am to 2:00pm at the Hermann Hall Conference Center on the campus of Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). Chicago Architecture + Design College Day is a free event open to high school and college students, parents, teachers, and counselors interested in learning more about opportunities in architecture, interior design, construction management, and landscape architecture.

From 10:00 am - 2:00 pm, the College Fair will host almost 50 colleges and universities with degree programs in architecture, interior design, construction management, and/or landscape architecture. Representatives will be available to provide information, distribute materials, and answer questions on their respective degree programs. In addition, a keynote address and breakout sessions will be held to help attendees learn more about the four disciplines. For further details including a complete list of colleges in attendance on the Chicago Career Day 2012 or to register for the event, check out the following website

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Professional Associations

I was wondering what are good programs/memberships to get into?  Such as AIAS and International Code Council.  Are there other ones out there that approach being LEED certified?  Besides internships what are other affordable ways to gain knowledge and experiences?  Would it be wise to participate in online competitions?  Could the competitions be damaging at all to my career?

There are way too many professional associations/organizations to list, but rather search on Google keywords that you are interested - for example
- US Green Building Council

While internships are certainly the best way to gain experience, you can certainly enter competitions (online or not) as well research with faculty (Are you in school?). 


Sustainable Design or Architecture

I have an undergraduate non-accredited degree in architecture. I wish to study further with specialization in Sustainable Design and Construction.  Could you give me some advice on which is a better option - M.Arch or M.S in Sustainable Design.  As I understand, M.Arch is a design oriented course culminating in a thesis while M.S is more research focused without thesis.  Is it correct?  Also what is the advantage of a NAAB accredited degree over a non-NAAB accredited one.  I do know that accredited degree is required for getting a license to practise in the US. But is there any other advantage as well.  Especially in terms of programs, curriculum, specialization and getting a job? 

 IMHO, it all comes down to whether or not you wish to become an architect.  If so, the decision is simple as you will need the accredited Master of Architecture to pursue licensure.  Given that sustainable design is a hot topic, I am sure that you can find a Master of Architecture with a strong emphasis in sustainable design.  

The difference in the degrees does not hinge on thesis or not as there are MArch degrees with and without the requirement of a thesis.

If becoming an architect is not an issue, then pursue the MS Sustainable Design.  I do not know much about this degree, but again -- do you wish to become an architect?

Truth be told, you could always pursue the sustainable design degree at a later date.


Job Search Resources

I live in Portland, OR. I am desperatly looking for architecture work. I never see job postings in the Oregonian, Monster, and Craig's List. Can you give me better resources to find a job?

From what you have shared, I will provide the following -- the most effective job search method is networking, not looking on the internet job boards.  You do not share where you are in the process of becoming an architect.  Are you a member of the AIA? or any other professional organization from which you can network?

Have you researched the firms in Portland and approach them directly?  As you know, the market is challenging so firms are not advertising.  You need to approach them and create value for them.  Research the firms, determine which are the best for you and network you way in to someone who is responsible for hiring.

Did you go to school in Portland?  If so, what faculty did you have that might be of help?

Everyone you know and do not know are potential contacts.  I would spend some time, but not much in the job boards; instead, I would get out and meet people, preferably architects.  Volunteer with the AIA or other group for which you will connect with architects.  Attend lectures or other seminars where you will meet architects.

I hope this helps.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Architectural Engineering

I'm a rising senior in high school and i'm very interested in pursuing a career in either Architecture, Civil Engineering or Architectural Engineering. During the summer, i attended a summer program at MIT called MITES where i had the chance to take an Architecture class for 6 consecutive weeks. I got to say that i loved the class but it also made doubt my plans. I always thought i wanted to major in Civil Engineering mostly because my father is a Civil Engineer and i loved watching his work. As i grew older, i discovered that i also love art and the complexity of designing ( even though i am not the best on that field ). So, after a lot of research, i came across a career called Architectural Engineering which i understood mixes the best of both Architecture and Engineering. 

In the next few months, i need to start applying to colleges. Unfortunately, Architectural Engineering is only offered in few places and that only makes me question if it is actually a good decision for me to follow that major. My family is constantly asking me about the minimal income for those engineers but i cant answer because i don't know. I've asked for advice to people that know about the topic, but no one seems to give me a complete answer. I hope that your background will let you answer me with as much honesty as possible. I'm looking forward for your response.
My expertise is on becoming an architect.  If you search the ARCHCareers blog - - you will see a plethora of questions and answers related to becoming an architect.

From my understanding of Architectural Engineering is NOT a mix of architecture and engineering, but rather it is engineering with a focus on the engineering aspects of building.  Refer to the website below.

If there are not enough programs in architectural engineering, you can always consider civil engineering on a campus that you would also be able to pursue a minor in architecture -- like Illinois.

As you are MA, consider attending the Boston Career Day on Sat., October 27 on the campus of Wentworth Inst. of Technology -- see the following for details --

Business to Architecture

I am writing for wisdom on how to fulfill my dream, of becoming an architect. 
I completed my undergraduate studies in business with a B.A. in 2007 (Fairleigh Dickinson U in N.J.). My grades were mediocre (2.5) and I have never been formally educated in anything architecture related.
My career has consisted of banking, business development, and human resources management.
As a 27yr old who does not want to start college from scratch again, what can I do, and how should I go about it?
I live in NYC and I am very sincere in my desire to study architecture. 

Thank you for your time and your generous advice. 

Given you have an undergraduate degree albeit in another discipline, you are eligible to apply to the Master of Architecture (3-4 years) at any of the accredited programs --

As you are in NYC, I suggest you touch base with one of the programs in the city.  As most will only accept applicants in the fall, you will have time until December / January to apply.  One part of the application to start is the portfolio.  Most require a portfolio of creative work.

You may wish to consider taking a drawing course to create work for it.