Friday, November 30, 2012

Civil engineering and Architecture

I came across your blog today and decided to send you an e-mail in order to describe my situation and seek your guidance. I have been studying civil engineering for 5 years and I' m just about to get my degree, so I'm currenlty looking into postgrads in Europe. I find myself seeking an architectural extention to my studies, since I am quite creative and environmentally sensitive and have always been a great admirer of architecture. I came across sustainable design and it seems like the right thing for me, since it doesn' t require having necessarily majored in architecture. However, i realised that if i make the said choice, i would like to direct myself towards sustainable design and construction in third world countries. I was wondering what my options are as a career path and also whether i can actually do that as a combination of my major and the postgrad. Furthermore, I would appreciate it if you could point me towards other masters combining civil engineering and architecture. Please help me make the right choice! I am looking forward to receiving your reply and i thank you in advance for your time.

First, I must share that my expertise is in "becoming an architect" in the U.S. and not Europe, but I will share what I can.

Given that you are pursuing a degree in civil engineering (an unrelated degree), you would be eligible to apply to a Master of Architecture (3-4 years) in the U.S.  Visit - - for a list of accredited programs.

Also, with your interest in sustainability, you will find many programs have that emphasis but all must address it as it is a performance standard for accreditation.

In terms of third world countries, I would suggest the following: 

Architecture for Humanity -
Global Architecture Brigades -
Architects without Borders -

As for joint degrees for civil and architecture, I can only suggest the previous NAAB website and search for those that also have civil.  I am aware of on program at the University of Illinos.


Unpaid Architecture Internships Come Under Fire

Given that architectural graduates are required to work under the supervision of an architect as part of the process of becoming an architect, I thought you might be interested in this article on Architizer.

Image below via @EricGlatt, who is working to end “unpaid labor guised as internships”

Story by C. J. Hughes
Architecture firms have often relied on unpaid interns, even if some firms don’t exactly advertise the tradition. But after recent lawsuits brought by former interns in other industries, the custom is starting to come under fire in the design world.


Preprofessional vs. professional

Why would a student pursue a pre-professional program in architecture vs. a professional program? Is it for someone who's not sure if they want to pursue architecture? What kind of job would they get upon graduating? I realize they would need a Master's program after that to pursue a career in architecture.

First, let me put your question in another context.  Instead of asking preprofessional vs professional, a better question is professional vs. professional.

NAAB (accrediting board) accredits three degrees - 1) Bachelor of Architecture (5 years); 2) Master of Architecture (4+2/3 years); and the Doctor of Architecture (only at Hawaii).  So, students can choose from any of these three paths to a professional accredited degree.

Thus, students pursue the 4+2 preprofessional degree + the Master of Architecture because it provides a broader undergraduate education; it provides the opportunity to pursue studies at two institutions/programs - one for undergraduate and one for graduate -- as well, it allows the opportunity to take time off between the two degrees.  Finally, many of these 4+2 programs do not require studio in the first year allowing a student to ease into architecture compared to the five-year BArch.

Students with the four-year preprofessional Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies can secure any entry level position with an architecture firm; just because they do not have the professional degree, does not mean that they cannot contribute their skills to a firm or any employer.

Ironically, in the early 1980s, there were about 90 BArch degree and 50 MArch; not it is opposite with about 90 MArch degrees being offered and 50 BArchs.

I hope this helps.  Thanks!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What major if pursuing Varsity Sport

I am interested in studying to become an architect, but have an opportunity to play a varsity sport at a university that does not offer undergraduate architecture studies.  Is there an recommended major (Art, Environmental Studies, etc.) that has better placement for grad school Architecture programs?

The best major to pursue is the one that you will enjoy the most and succeed in as well as best allow you to pursue your varsity sport.  Certainly, related majors such as art or environmental studies might be considered the best but if either creates a challenge to succeed or pursue your sport, it may not be the best choice.

Certainly, if your intentions are to pursue architecture at the graduate level, you will want to take courses in art or related disciplines so you have materials for your portfolio.  Also, consider the graduate programs to which you might apply to see their requirements - calculus or architecture history.

Decisions on admission to graduate programs are not based on the major, but rather your academic record and portfolio.


Upcoming Career Days - Dallas, New York, Savannah

Between now and the end of the year, I will be attending a career days for aspiring architects and the annual AIAS Forum.  I will not be in NYC, but it is certainly worthy to attend.

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

2B an Architect
Dallas, TX
AIAS Dallas - Saturday, November 17

ARCHSchools Confidential
New York, NY
AIA NYC - Tuesday, November 27

AIAS Forum - Sunday, December 30


I’m interested in a career in architecture.  I have some questions for you.
What skills are people looking for in industry?
What are some ways to learn the basics?
What do you think I should do before I begin my first class in January? I’ll be starting out with drafting.
Thank You for your time

Thanks for your questions.

A great overview of the profession is from the DOL Occupational Outlook Handbook.

As for skills employers, they are varied -- beyond the traditional skills of design, technical skills, etc., they also want communication, collaboration, and leadership.  A great way to see what they want is to read position descriptions.

To learn the basics, read and sketch.  Go to the library to read volumes on architecture and review websites on the topic.  Purchase a sketchbook and draw what you see which will extend to drawing what is in your imagination.

As odd as it sounds, I would not start out with drafting; drafting is not what architecture is.  Instead, take an art course/freehand drawing to get started.  Try out a 2D design course instead.  Contact an area architect to possibly shadow for the day to learn the profession.

Visit - - to learn more.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Transfer to BArch or MArch

I am currently attending a junior college to complete all of my core requirements to transfer into an accredited college in Architecture.  I live in Illinois and am interested in IIT and also Southern Illinois University. I was accepted at SIU but decided to attend a Junior college this year for many reasons.  I want to transfer but am still a little confused about the  Architectural studies vs. the  BArch programs.  My understanding is to bypass the architectural studies and focus strictly on my BArch, this is the more focused approach.  Some clarity would be greatly appreciated and will provide me with the correct decision making when applying in December 2012 for the fall semester.
Thank you for your time and information,
To fulfill the education requirements of becoming an architect, one must complete the NAAB accredited professional degree; this is done via the 5-year Bachelor of Architecture such as IIT offers or the 6-year (4+2) Master of Architecture that either SIU or UIUC offers.  In this latter case, you first pursue a pre-professional Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies (BSAS 4-years)

Given that you are first attending a community college to complete your core requirements, you will still probably begin the studies at IIT as a first year student because of the studio and other required architectural coursework.  Thus, it will still take you five years to complete.  This may or not be the case at SIU or Illinois; you would need to check with them directly.

In some respects, a BArch is more focused because it completes the degree in a shorter duration, but there are other criteria that you will want to consider when applying.

I would suggest you visit both programs to learn first hand the transfer process.