Saturday, September 29, 2012

Children Programs in Architecture

When my son was 3, I asked him what he wanted to be. "A builder," said he, "but not the guy who hammers the nails. I want to be the guy who makes up the plans that the hammerers follow." I taught him the word ARCHITECT and since then, he's been following a career of Legos, CitiBlocks, Jenga Sticks, Erector sets, Minecraft and LegoRobotics.  Probably helps that we live a block from the WTC site and his whole neighborhood has been under construction for all of his 10 years.

I'm writing to you to ask if you think that enrolling him in some kind of architecture summer program would be a huge help or just a way to pass the time. Thing is, I live in NYC where the more money you have, the better your advertising, and that doesn't necessarily correlate with the quality of the programming. I suspect that a lot of the "architecture summer camps" out here are just art school with day trips to skyscrapers. We live right in manhattan and the kid already has favorite buildings (the Chrysler tops his list). He says he wants to take beautiful old buildings and repurpose them into useful space, like taking lovely government buildings or museums and turning them into hotels with concert halls. When he was four, he wanted to make a mile high building with a monorail that only tenants could use that went straight to JFK. Not a bad plan for a little tot; maybe a little hard to push through the City ordinances. :-)

anyway - my main question is - at this terribly young age, does it make sense for him to go to specialized camp or should he continue to explore everything at the general camps he already attends? Is there any benefit to these architecture camps, for instance on a college application - or is vast curiosity and general knowledge of many things more highly valued. (seems stupid to be talking about college while he's not even in middle school, but there it is, the world is darn crowded.) 

So I reach out to your expertise.  Anyone in the office from NYC? Or have you heard of any particularly great summer programs in or near Manhattan for kids age 9-12? or should we just continue to let him play Minecraft and do Lego Robotics and whatever else satisfies his building urge and stop worrying about it until high school?

thanks for your help,

First, congrats on having a son who at an early age is excited about design and architecture. 

Clearly, involving him in activities related will be helpful assuming they are age appropriate. 

I have attached the list of summer programs (high school) for you but the more appropriate one given your location is as follows:
Center for Architecture - New York, NY
June 25 – 29, 2012 (1 week); July 2 – 13, 2012 (2 weeks)

As your son is such a young age, I would suggest exploring any and all programs to encourage his interest in architecture.  Being in NYC, he is in one of the best cities architecturally - as you state, just walk outside. 

Aside from programs like the one listed above, encourage him to draw and see.  As well, develop his spatial abilities - legos, blocks, lincoln logs -- one software to consider is sketchup, a free download from Google.  Encourage him to keep a sketchbook -- have him draw for a time each day much list you would practice piano.

One toy to explore used by Frank Lloyd Wright is Froebel Blocks -

You may also consider contacting a local architect to have visit a office, talk with architects, etc.  Of course, you have time for all of this.  Ironically, many entering college architecture students indicate an interest in the discipline at an early age. 

Do keep in touch if you have any further questions.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Currently I live in  California. I have done B.Arch, (1999) in India. After 12 years, I am planning to start my career to empower my skills.  I am planning to start interior course in community college.

I am wondering does this correct path to enter an internship an architectural firm?  If you give some ideas to get internship process it would be great.

If you desire to gain employment in the architectural profession, you have the education to apply for positions within architecture firms.  Granted, you applied a number of years ago, but you should be able to search for employment accordingly.

Certainly, you may seek additional skills from a community college as you outline. 

To gain a position, I would suggest the best approach is networking -- Connect with architects through the local AIA chapter or other organizations where you learn about firms.  Sometimes, you can connect via architecture programs.


Professional or Post-Professional?

I'm from Dominican Republic; in my country we only have one degree: Architect, there is no such thing as B. Arch, pre professional.  You go to the university and take 5 years of design studios and clases.. and you are an architect.
I graduated a year ago, and now I am looking forward to do a master in USA, but I'm confused whether to choose a post professional or a professional, I love sustainable design, and that's what I'm aiming for.. but doubt keeps eating me!!! I also want to work in the US, so im not sure if i should take some "general" Master Degree just because is accredited by the NAAB… or go post professional with the Sustainable Design..

What is my best choice?
The degree to which you will pursue depends on your longer term career goals.

If you wish to pursue licensure in the U.S., you will want to pursue the accredited professional Master of Architecture degree typically two years in length.  To obtain a list of possible degrees, visit -- --.

Instead, if you are seeking additional architectural education, but intend to return the Dominican Republic after graduate, you would be better served to pursue the post-professional graduate degree in architecture.  These are typically named - Master of Science in Architecture and are one-year in length.

If you still wish to become licensed in the U.S. with a post-professional degree but you would need to have your education evaluated - see below.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Licensed Architect?

I would like to know if I can be a licensed architect with the following background:
I have 1) B.S. of Architecture from University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (a 4-year program),
2) Masters of Science of Architecture from MIT, Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (a 2-year degree).

Can I still receive a licence and be a practicing licensed architect with such education? Does it depends on State? If yes, what do I need to do to gain my license?


Most jurisdictions regulating licensure require a professional NAAB accredited degree (BArch or MArch) to fulfill the education requirement for becoming an architect.

From what you list below, it appears that you have the post-professional Master of Science in Architecture.

I would suggest you contact the state department of professional regulation to clarification.  You may also wish to contact NCARB - -- to learn the steps to becoming an architect -- 1) education, 2) experience and 3) examination.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mathematician to Architect

First, I have to say that I love your blog. You're very informative, and although there are resources available online that have vast amounts of information, few of them feel so personal and reliable. Just had to get that out of the way first.

I have a question for you regarding a career switch. I've just received a Bachelor's in Mathematics from a small state university in Oklahoma (University of Central Oklahoma), and I am considering making a change to architecture. For some context, I have obviously had way, way too much math, including every Calculus course to be taken, but I also have a minor in Engineering Physics, which allowed me to take classes regarding static structures and forces, something I understand could provide a very good foundation for some architecture coursework. I am, however, very interested in the design side and many of the less "scientific" aspects (although I find them just as captivating), so rather than Architectural Engineering, I'd like to pursue Architecture. I have had a consistent passion for art and for design, and have actually done a few things such as building my own guitar, sketching and designing small things around the place I have like a drug addict, and carving and painting, so building a portfolio may not be as hard for me as for others, but it will still take a long, long while and I have a long, long way to go.

I have done some - though not enough - research into options for making a switch this dramatic, but as it stands, going back for another undergraduate degree would be highly difficult for me as I have no means to pay for it now that I've invested so heavily in something so much different (different courseloads, different research, different everything, it seems like). I am convinced that this is something that I'd love to do, but four years of experience tell me not to jump into something so quickly. I've thankfully had the fortune of saving a little bit of money on school so far, so it's not altogether not an option to go back, but I've also located some programs that are "career-switch" programs for graduate degrees, such as one at UT-Austin or the University of Cincinnati that require about 3.5 years to finish, but results in an accredited degree (or something close to it) through a Master's in Architecture.

However, again, money and funding are a huge problem for me. I simply can't afford to take out loans that something like UT-Austin or other places would require, but I haven't found much information on ways to pay for something like this. In mathematics, the way I know people usually get around this is getting some kind of assitantship for the duration of their M.S., M.A., or Ph.D, so it comes out fairly even. I'm noticing the system in architecture is a little different.

So, here's the question: would there be any good resources you could point me to, or any advice you could give me, on funding such a long shot option? I've read a lot of posts - including on here - about how one of the greatest architects of the 20th century started architecture pretty late in his life, so I know it's possible, but it just seems so difficult. My grades were decent - 3.25 GPA overall and 3.5 subject plus several honors and awards, and some research to my name - so hopefully there is some hope.

Also, are there other programs in the U.S. or in Europe that have the career-switching Master's like this that you know of? I've found about three or four, but have had some trouble finding more. 

Thank you for the time, and keep up the awesome work on this blog!


Thanks for the compliments on the blog.

Given you have an undergraduate degree (albeit in another discipline), you are eligible to apply to a Master of Architecture degree at any number of institutions.  The MArch will take between 3-4 years depending on the program to which you attend.  To research schools, visit or -- both have a list of accredited programs.

Given some of your coursework was related, you may receive the waiver of some courses but because of design studio, the overall length will still be 3-4 years.

As for funding, contact the programs directly as many have assistantships and fellowships for students.  Most of these will be awarded on merit.

You will also need to develop a portfolio for admission.  Consider taking an art or drawing course to create materials for your admission.

Finally, visit -- and consider purchasing Becoming an Architect, 2nd Ed.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Architectural Engineering to Architecture

My daughter has just begun the five year Architectural Engineering program at Oklahoma State University.  Is this a positive path forward to ultimately obtaining a Masters in Architecture and becoming a licensed architect?  Using this path, how many years of study would be required to complete the Masters in Architecture degree?  Appreciate your help and advice.

The length of time for pursue a Master of Architecture after her five-year architectural engineering degree will depend on the institution that she attends for the MArch.

In general, the Master of Architecture following a non-architecture undergraduate degree ranges from 3-4 years and depends on the institution and the degree that the individual possesses.

As a degree in architectural engineering is related to architecture, she may receive the waiving of some coursework but obtaining the MArch will take longer than if she obtain a four-year undergraduate pre-professional degree in architecture commonly known as a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies.

At OSU, they offer the five year NAAB accredited degree which will suffice to pursue licensure.  If she wishes to become an architect, she may wish to consider switching to the BArch or transferring to another institution.  If she wants to have background in architectural engineering as well as architecture, her pursuit of the degree in architectural engineering and architecture is appropriate.

Do let me know if you have further questions.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Psychology to Architecture

First and foremost, I have your book, and have read it among others. I have this burning fascination with Architecture and design that will not go away and I do not think it will. Therefore, as I enter my degree in Psychology at UCLA I am realizing working with people and design is a much better fit for me. Thus, I think I may be in the right field.

Anyway, I am in a Psych program and am starting my junior year at UCLA, with full intention of applying for Berkeley's Summer IN ARCH program for 2013. I am looking for CADD classes to take at home on the side, as well as reading material and studying on my own. The love truly never did die! Anyways, do you think this program would be a good fit?

I am not presently perfect at math but realize that taking Calculus and some Drawing Classes this year would be good elective choices. I also realize that the Summer program is not accredited but it seems the experience of Berkeley and also the possible LOR and portfolio build up may make the program valuable. I think it may also give me a cost-effective way to see if I really would enjoy Architect school.

Any advice based on my situation would be greatly appreciated. I thank you in advance for reading my email and any response you may give.

Thanks for reading my book; I am hopeful that it is providing you some insight.

I congratulate you on your desire to pursue architecture after your psychology degree at UCLA and attend the summer program at Berkeley, but I would not suggest you take CADD courses.  Instead, take drawing or art courses to develop materials for your portfolio as you apply to potential graduate programs.

Also, as you are at UCLA, visit the architecture studios and talk with architecture students.  See if they have a course you can take as a non-major.  Consider attending their lecture series.  Contact some of the professors at UCLA for reading lists -- visit the architecture library.

Do not worry about the summer program not being accredited as it cannot be -- Only full degree programs in architecture can be accredited -- visit - to understand the accreditation process and a list of programs.

Get involved in the discipline and profession by seeing architecture; begin to sketch and draw what you see in LA.

I hope this gets you off to a good start.

Career Switch - Medicine to Architecture

I am a final year medical student from Malaysia. I have been seriously considering switching my career path, which means to start from scratch all over again.

I have researched a little regarding architecture and I am amazed by its diversity and potentials. However it means a no turning back for me once the decision is made. For your information, financial support is on top of my urgent need. I would be glad if you could provide me with some information.

Thank you for your help.

First, my expertise is in becoming an architect in the U.S. not Malaysia.

I am pleased to learn that you are considering a switch, but as you outline, the process of becoming an architect is both challenging and not so short.  In the U.S., an individual needs an accredited degree (3-4 years for one with a college degree), internship (3-5 years) and pass the ARE (1-3 years). 


Other than researching the profession, I would suggest you meet with an architect to learn more about the discipline first hand.  You may also wish to visit an architecture school before making this decision.

That is a start.  Best.