Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Architecture / Planning

I am pleased that I came across your blog as I am interested in your opinion on the possibility of my making a career change at a rather late stage after moving away from an early career in architecture.
I am 54, admittedly a bit of a late-bloomer, do possess a background in architecture at the designer level, have an AAS in Architectural Design and Drafting as well as BSc in IT Management, am fairly adept at the creative/artistic side of architecture, do possess at least a nascent portfolio and am seriously considering a career change before I embark on graduate level IT management track.   My current dilemma is that having attained the level of IT director within a multi-national A/E firm, and having worked within the A/E sector my entire career, I question the wisdom of shifting gears at this stage of the game.
I originally spent six years as an architectural draftsman/designer before making a decision to move to CAD/IT management.  That decision was made, in part, on the idea that management of IT services within the A/E sector was going to be a progressive need, the salaries appeared to better and I had a natural desire to be in a management position.  Since that point my career trajectory has been decidedly IT based as I moved from CAD management into progressive IT management and consultancy assignments. Although I have demonstrated a certain aptitude towards management of IT services within the A/E sector I am more of a hybrid IT generalist than an IT specialist and am finding it increasingly difficult to advance my career in an ever-changing IT world.  That fact, coupled with the fact that my heart is just not in IT makes things a bit precarious.
I am sensitive that the idea that my age may preclude me from achieving an active career in architecture, or perhaps urban planning, yet my overall desire to make an impact on the landscape drives towards this career change idea.   Having worked in a number of US cities, as well as a number of international locations, I am struck by what to me is an obvious need for a more cohesive approach to urban development with a strong tie to architecture.  Given the aforementioned statements I wonder if a combo Master of Architecture/Urban Planning track such as the one offered at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee might be a viable option for me at this point in my career.
As my expertise is on Becoming an Architect, I would share the following:

If the factors in your current career are not what you want them to be, I would certainly have you consider pursuing architecture as a new career.  While there is certainly age-discrimination, you would still be an asset to an employer given your previous employment.  With your degree, a Master of Architecture would take 3-4 years.

As for the pursuit of a combined architecture/planning degree, I must defer to others as I am not as familiar with planning as a career.  Have you discussed your thoughts with the academic staff at UWM?  Visit the American Planning Association (APA - for insight.

I firmly believe that one should pursue their passion and opportunities will become available.  With that said, you know the particulars to your career/life to best make the decision to change.

A final resource is the book - What Color is Your Parachute by R. Bolles -


Introductory Programs

I've been searching for a program where I could try my hand at architecture and determine if I have any talent for the filed. After exploring your blog, I came across three options that would give me exactly what I need. Berkeley, Cornell and UCLA offer short introduction to architecture courses.

They seem like wonderful opportunities. But I must say, they are a bit expensive, especially for a foreign student. (I am Canadian.) Do you have any suggestions for similar courses- courses where I could build a strong portfolio in a short amount of time - that are available in Canada or are offered in the US or Europe and are cheaper?

Something like that - something where I could utterly immerse myself in architecture - would be ideal.

Also, is there any easy way to determine if I have an aptitude for architecture. I love aesthetics. And I like buildings. And I love writing. But I've never been someone who feels compelled to make art or design.

In any event, 

Thanks for contacting me, but I am not sure I can be of any assistance.  Each year, I compile a list of summer architecture programs available on  Aside from the three options that you list, I would suggest you review the full list to see if there are any others - try Univ. of Washington.

Unfortunately, I am not familiar with any such programs in either Canada or other countries.  You may wish to contact architecture programs directly to determine if they have a program.

Aside from summer programs, you may wish to take a course (freehand drawing/art or design) at an university.  If one is not nearby, you can immerse yourself in the discipline by reading, sketching, and seeing architecture.  Granted, you will not have faculty instruction, but it is a start.

There is no test that can accurately determine if you are well-suited for architecture or not but I do believe it is an education that prepares you for a number of career fields that require creative problem solvers.

If possible, try to shadow an architect to learn more.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Post-Professional MS in Architecture

I attended Rachna Sansad Academy of Architecture in Mumbai, India and pursued the B.Arch.  I completed my B.Arch degree last year. Right now I am practicing in a small architectural firm.  Yes, i am getting a lot of new things to learn here.  I'm planning to apply for master in advanced architecture next year.

But I'm confused where to do it from.  I m very much inspired by all those fancy huge structures which we see in abroad, but on the other hand people say there is no scope in the states and u.k. I am really messed up with all options in front of me.

I will be really great full to you if get your kind guidance in this critical situation . 

Thank you

I may not be able to provide the guidance you need because my expertise is on architectural education and becoming an architect in the U.S.

First, I suggest you search on my blog - - as I am addressed similar questions before.  Next, the decision you make on where to consider continuing your architecture education depends on the next step of your career.

With your B.Arch, you may pursue what the U.S. calls a post-professional degree in architecture, typically by the name of Master of Science in Architecture.  Probably the best resources to research programs is -- a resource that allows you to search programs based on different criteria (see below).

Because the post-professional allows you to focus on an area of specialization, you should think about which is of more interest.


  • Specialization
    • Architectural Design
    • Art and Design
    •  Building Information Modeling
    •  Building Technology/Environmental Systems
    •  Community Design
    •  Computer-Aided Design
    •  Energy
    • Engineering
    •  Environment/Sustainability
    •  Graphic Design
    •  History
    •  Housing
    •  Interior Design/Architecture
    •  International And Regional Architecture
    •  International Development
    •  Landscape Design
    •  Photography
    •  Preservation
    •  Professional Practice
    •  Sacred Spaces
    •  Sustainablility
    •  Tectonics
    •  Theory/Criticism
    •  Urban Planning and Design

Friday, February 22, 2013

MS or MArch after BArch

I have done my B.Arch from India and given my GRE exam.i desire to do M.arch in sustainability from US university.  However i am confused if i should go for an MS course or M.Arch course since i do not desire to practice there but given an opportunity would like to work.

Also my interest lies in teaching, so could I practice teaching coming back to India after doing an one year MS course.

Kindly help.

Whether to pursue a professional Master of Architecture or a post-professional Master of Science in Architecture truly depends on your future desire to pursue licensure in the U.S.  As your BArch is from India, it does NOT meet the education standard for licensure.  As such, pursuing a Master of Architecture (two years) would be the best route if you desire to pursue licensure in the U.S.

However, if you wish to expand your studies and eventual return to India, the MS degree may be the better route.

With that said, you can still gain pursue licensure with your BArch but you would need to pursue the EESA process to determine that your education is equivalent to the NCARB Education Standard.

Given what you stated in your statement, I would consider the MS in Architecture.

Visit - for a list of potential programs.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

MArch Portfolio

I am a bachelor degree student currently in the 3rd year in civil engineering. I am struggling hard to change to an architecture degree after graduation.
And I know there would be a portfolio requirement when applying. I searched online but most of the information seem to be quite professional done by those architecture major students.
If I want to put my drawings into the portfolio, like sketches or art drawings, will that be acceptable? Or do you have any suggestions on that?

Your first source should be the graduate programs to which you are applying. For example, below is what one graduate program in architecture posts about their portfolio requirements. 

Portfolio of creative work will be accepted on-line (preferred) or in print format. As part of the application, all applicants to the professional and post-professional master of architecture degree programs are required to submit a portfolio which should represent the applicant's best work and consist mainly of reproductions of 20 to 30 pieces of creative drawings, two-or-three dimensional work, and models.

If any project, drawing or model has been produced by several designers or if the design was produced in a professional setting, each drawing must be labeled, clearly stating the number of designers, which drawings were produced by the applicant, and a list of the names of all members of the group project. If the project was produced in an office, an office setting, or as an assistant to an author, then the office name, supervisor, and all members of the team must be identified.

As your background is in a discipline outside architecture, you may certainly submit sketches and/or art. You are trying to demonstrate your creative talents, not your architectural skills.

Another source is -- -- a website that parallels the book by the same title - Portfolio Design by Harold Linton.

You may also search portfolios on -- --


Sunday, February 10, 2013

From Funeral Director to Architect

Hi, I'm 33 years old and I'm only 10 hours away of getting my Bachelor's in Business Management. I have an Associates in Mortuary Science and am a Licensed Funeral Director & Mortician with 16 years of experience and have been licensed 11 years now. I want to pursue my one of my dreams of becoming an architect. I'm single and no kids. My question is what route for schooling and career path should I take in pursuing for this. Also, I'm not the best in freehand drawing of buildings and such, would that be a hinderance to me in this profession? I am however pretty decent at mechanical drawing.

As you are only 10 hours from your undergraduate degree, I would highly advise that you simply complete it allowing you to apply and enter a Master of Architecture (3-4 years).  Of course, you could apply as a transfer to an undergraduate degree in architecture but I am afraid this route would take longer.  For example, at the institution I work, it would take you three years to complete the BS Architectural Studies degree and an additional two to complete the MArch degree.

Plus, with your degree in business management, you may be more valuable upon graduation with your MArch.

Your best sources of information on architecture programs is NAAB ( or Both provide a list of accredited programs.  With some exception, you have probably missed out on applying for this fall.

As such, you may wish to consider attending a summer program in architecture. Because you will need to submit a portfolio when applying to a graduate program, another suggestion would be to take a art/life drawing course to develop your freehand skills.  While computers are prevalent in the profession, you still need freehand skills.  -- a computer screen is simply a sophisticated blank piece of paper.

Also, consider shadowing an architect you may know through where you live.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Becoming an Architect in 50s.

With all the education that is required and post-graduation experience that is required before sitting for the exam is it too much for someone like me just turning 53 ?.  Probably couldn't get in one of the large firms....I was looking at the classes and see its like another 4-6 years plus experience,I'll be like 60-62 before taking exam.....Oh we'll.....I knew I should of stayed at that firm I was at in 1987....still kicking myself for leaving and they were going to pay for school too......
Thanks for least reading this and giving me positive feedback if you can

I know of individuals that have pursued architecture when in their 50s.  You do not provide much of your background, but if you wish to pursue architecture, why not do it.  Even if you did not apply for this fall, you would graduate in 3-4 years after beginning.  If you worked during the summers, you could be completing your IDP and taking the exam within the 2-3 years upon graduation putting you at about 58-60 when you become an architect leaving you 20-30 years of practice.

Philip Johnson became an architect at 39 years and practiced until in his 90s when he died.

Of course, depending on your professional background, you may be able to enter the industry now without the education and not becoming a licensed architect.


Job Search - Prior to MArch

I am currently in my 3rd year of undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago. Though I am not currently studying in a field directly related to architecture, I plan to pursue a masters degree in architecture after graduating. I aspire to one day become a licensed architect. 

I understand the requirements and efforts necessary for me to apply to such programs as a liberal arts undergrad, but in order to make myself more competitive and to get a better feel for the profession, I think I want to pursue an internship/job opportunity related to architecture for this summer. 

Unfortunately, this is incredibly difficult for someone with minimal CAD experience and no undergraduate studies in architecture. I've written about buildings quite a bit both as a journalist and in university, but other than attacking this problem from that angle, I don't really know how to get my foot in the door. Any suggestions?

Congrats on your desire to pursue architecture and to become an architect

As for getting yourself in the door of an architecture firm prior to your graduate degree and with minimal experience, I offer the following:

First, do your homework on potential employers - architecture firms and others.  Ideally, you wish to work for an architecture firm, but there may be other design-related disciplines/employers that may also be helpful in your transition.  The AIA Illinois has a book entitled Archipages which lists all AIA-member owned firms in the state of Illinois.  The AIA Chicago has a website with many Chicago-based firms.

Next, you need to do an inventory of your skills (separate from AutoCad).  Although you may not have architectural skills, you do have skills that may be of interest to potential employers.  You mention writing - perhaps, you can be hired for a firm's marketing department to write proposals, marketing briefs, etc.  You can still be valuable to a firm even without architectural skills.

As well, you need to connect with architecture firms beyond the job search.  Become involved with the AIA Chicago (attend lectures, volunteer, etc.) to meet architects and architectural students/graduates who may help with connections.  Consider attending lectures at either IIT or UIC and meet those others that attend.

As you write - have you thought about blogging about buildings and architecture to become more known.

These are some ideas -- keep connecting and consider obtaining Becoming an Architect, 2nd ed.