Dreaming to be an architect/designer

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Dreaming to be an architect/designer

Postby Somebody » Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:19 pm

Hey there!

Over the past weeks i have decided, after a gap year of working and lazying around that i want to do something in the construction field. More so making and designing buildings.

However, when it comes to mathemathics and physics my knowledge is next to nothing, while my drawing and creative skills are quite good if i may say so myself. Is it possible to still follow studies in this field? I did a bit of research and careers like interior designer seem possible, but i'd like to be more involved with the exterior (or would you have to be a fully qualified architect for that?)

Too long didn't read: Not very good in the exact field, but more so in the creative field. Is it still possible for me to have a career/follow a study in the architect field somehow?

Thank you for your responses :)
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Postby RickBalkins » Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:59 am

Depending on what buildings you want to design, you may need an architect license.

However, some buildings do not require such. However, the knowledge and skills would be basically the same whether formally learned through college or through a great deal of self-directed study (that will take a great deal of commitment).

In any case, I advise that you take a great deal of study in a great array of areas.

If you want to be a building designers, you will need to have the following skills and attributes:

Borrowed from the NAAB criteria:

The accredited degree program must demonstrate that each graduate possesses the
knowledge and skills defined by the criteria set out below. The knowledge and skills are the
minimum for meeting the demands of an internship leading to registration for practice.
The school must provide evidence that its graduates have satisfied each criterion through
required coursework. If credits are granted for courses taken at other institutions or online,
evidence must be provided that the courses are comparable to those offered in the
accredited degree program.
The criteria encompass two levels of accomplishment10:
 Understanding—The capacity to classify, compare, summarize, explain and/or
interpret information.
 Ability—Proficiency in using specific information to accomplish a task, correctly
selecting the appropriate information, and accurately applying it to the solution of a
specific problem, while also distinguishing the effects of its implementation.
The NAAB establishes performance criteria to help accredited degree programs prepare
students for the profession while encouraging educational practices suited to the individual
degree program. In addition to assessing whether student performance meets the
professional criteria, the visiting team will assess performance in relation to the school’s
stated curricular goals and content. While the NAAB stipulates the student performance
criteria that must be met, it specifies neither the educational format nor the form of student
work that may serve as evidence of having met these criteria. Programs are encouraged
to develop unique learning and teaching strategies, methods, and materials to satisfy these
criteria. The NAAB encourages innovative methods for satisfying the criteria, provided the
school has a formal evaluation process for assessing student achievement of these criteria
and documenting the results.
For the purpose of accreditation, graduating students must demonstrate understanding or
ability as defined below in the Student Performance Criteria (SPC):
II.1.1 Student Performance Criteria: The SPC are organized into realms to more easily
understand the relationships between individual criteria.
Realm A: Critical Thinking and Representation:
Architects must have the ability to build abstract relationships and understand the impact of
ideas based on research and analysis of multiple theoretical, social, political, economic,
cultural and environmental contexts. This ability includes facility with the wider range of
media used to think about architecture including writing, investigative skills, speaking,
drawing and model making. Students’ learning aspirations include:
 Being broadly educated.
 Valuing lifelong inquisitiveness.

 Communicating graphically in a range of media.
 Recognizing the assessment of evidence.
 Comprehending people, place, and context.
 Recognizing the disparate needs of client, community, and society.
A.1. Communication Skills: Ability to read, write, speak and listen effectively.
A. 2. Design Thinking Skills: Ability to raise clear and precise questions, use
abstract ideas to interpret information, consider diverse points of view,
reach well-reasoned conclusions, and test alternative outcomes against
relevant criteria and standards.
A. 3. Visual Communication Skills: Ability to use appropriate representational
media, such as traditional graphic and digital technology skills, to convey
essential formal elements at each stage of the programming and design
A.4. Technical Documentation: Ability to make technically clear drawings, write
outline specifications, and prepare models illustrating and identifying the
assembly of materials, systems, and components appropriate for a
building design.
A.5. Investigative Skills: Ability to gather, assess, record, apply, and
comparatively evaluate relevant information within architectural
coursework and design processes.
A. 6. Fundamental Design Skills: Ability to effectively use basic architectural and
environmental principles in design.
A. 7. Use of Precedents: Ability to examine and comprehend the fundamental
principles present in relevant precedents and to make choices
regarding the incorporation of such principles into architecture and urban
design projects.
A. 8. Ordering Systems Skills: Understanding of the fundamentals of both
natural and formal ordering systems and the capacity of each to inform
two- and three-dimensional design.
A. 9. Historical Traditions and Global Culture: Understanding of parallel and
divergent canons and traditions of architecture, landscape and urban
design including examples of indigenous, vernacular, local, regional,
national settings from the Eastern, Western, Northern, and Southern
hemispheres in terms of their climatic, ecological, technological,
socioeconomic, public health, and cultural factors.
A. 10. Cultural Diversity: Understanding of the diverse needs, values, behavioral
norms, physical abilities, and social and spatial patterns that characterize
different cultures and individuals and the implication of this diversity on the
societal roles and responsibilities of architects.
A.11. Applied Research: Understanding the role of applied research in
determining function, form, and systems and their impact on human
conditions and behavior.

Realm B: Integrated Building Practices, Technical Skills and Knowledge: Architects
are called upon to comprehend the technical aspects of design, systems and materials,
and be able to apply that comprehension to their services. Additionally they must
appreciate their role in the implementation of design decisions, and the impact of such
decisions on the environment. Students learning aspirations include:
 Creating building designs with well-integrated systems.
 Comprehending constructability.
 Incorporating life safety systems.
 Integrating accessibility.
 Applying principles of sustainable design.
B. 1. Pre-Design: Ability to prepare a comprehensive program for an architectural
project, such as preparing an assessment of client and user needs, an
inventory of space and equipment requirements, an analysis of site
conditions (including existing buildings), a review of the relevant laws and
standards and assessment of their implications for the project, and a
definition of site selection and design assessment criteria.
B. 2. Accessibility: Ability to design sites, facilities, and systems to provide
independent and integrated use by individuals with physical (including
mobility), sensory, and cognitive disabilities.
B. 3. Sustainability: Ability to design projects that optimize, conserve, or reuse
natural and built resources, provide healthful environments for
occupants/users, and reduce the environmental impacts of building
construction and operations on future generations through means such as
carbon-neutral design, bioclimatic design, and energy efficiency.
B. 4. Site Design: Ability to respond to site characteristics such as soil,
topography, vegetation, and watershed in the development of a project
B. 5. Life Safety: Ability to apply the basic principles of life-safety systems with an
emphasis on egress.
B. 6. Comprehensive Design: Ability to produce a comprehensive architectural
project that demonstrates each student’s capacity to make design decisions
across scales while integrating the following SPC:
A.2. Design Thinking
A.4. Technical
A.5. Investigative Skills
A.8. Ordering Systems
A.9. Historical Traditions
and Global Culture

B.2. Accessibility
B.3. Sustainability
B.4. Site Design
B.5. Life Safety
B.8. Environmental Systems
B.9. Structural Systems

B. 7 Financial Considerations: Understanding of the fundamentals of building
costs, such as acquisition costs, project financing and funding, financial
feasibility, operational costs, and construction estimating with an emphasis
on life-cycle cost accounting.
B. 8 Environmental Systems: Understanding the principles of environmental
systems’ design such as embodied energy, active and passive heating and
cooling, indoor air quality, solar orientation, daylighting and artificial
illumination, and acoustics; including the use of appropriate performance
assessment tools.
B. 9. Structural Systems: Understanding of the basic principles of structural
behavior in withstanding gravity and lateral forces and the evolution, range,
and appropriate application of contemporary structural systems.
B. 10. Building Envelope Systems: Understanding of the basic principles involved
in the appropriate application of building envelope systems and associated
assemblies relative to fundamental performance, aesthetics, moisture
transfer, durability, and energy and material resources.
B. 11. Building Service Systems: Understanding of the basic principles and
appropriate application and performance of building service systems such
as plumbing, electrical, vertical transportation, security, and fire protection
B. 12. Building Materials and Assemblies: Understanding of the basic principles
utilized in the appropriate selection of construction materials, products,
components, and assemblies, based on their inherent characteristics and
performance, including their environmental impact and reuse.
Realm C: Leadership and Practice:
Architects need to manage, advocate, and act legally, ethically and critically for the good of
the client, society and the public. This includes collaboration, business, and leadership
skills. Student learning aspirations include:
 Knowing societal and professional responsibilities.
 Comprehending the business of building.
 Collaborating and negotiating with clients and consultants in the design process.
 Discerning the diverse roles of architects and those in related disciplines.
 Integrating community service into the practice of architecture.
C. 1. Collaboration: Ability to work in collaboration with others and in multidisciplinary
teams to successfully complete design projects.
C. 2. Human Behavior: Understanding of the relationship between human
behavior, the natural environment and the design of the built environment.
C. 3 Client Role in Architecture: Understanding of the responsibility of the
architect to elicit, understand, and reconcile the needs of the client, owner,
user groups, and the public and community domains.
C. 4. Project Management: Understanding of the methods for competing for
commissions, selecting consultants and assembling teams, and
recommending project delivery methods.
C. 5. Practice Management: Understanding of the basic principles of
architectural practice management such as financial management and
business planning, time management, risk management, mediation and
arbitration, and recognizing trends that affect practice.
C. 6. Leadership: Understanding of the techniques and skills architects use to
work collaboratively in the building design and construction process and
on environmental, social, and aesthetic issues in their communities.
C. 7. Legal Responsibilities: Understanding of the architect’s responsibility to
the public and the client as determined by registration law, building codes
and regulations, professional service contracts, zoning and subdivision
ordinances, environmental regulation, and historic preservation and
accessibility laws.
C. 8. Ethics and Professional Judgment: Understanding of the ethical issues
involved in the formation of professional judgment regarding social,
political and cultural issues in architectural design and practice.
C.9. Community and Social Responsibility: Understanding of the architect’s
responsibility to work in the public interest, to respect historic resources,
and to improve the quality of life for local and global neighbors
The APR must include:
 A brief, narrative or graphic overview of the curricular goals and content for each
accredited degree program offered or each track for meeting the requirements of
the professional degree program.
 A matrix for each accredited degree program offered or each track for meeting the
requirements of the professional degree program, that identifies each required
course with the SPC it fulfills.
o Where appropriate, the top section of the matrix should indicate those
SPCs expected to have been met in preparatory or pre-professional
education prior to admission to the NAAB-accredited program (see also
Part II, Section 3).
o The bottom section of the matrix should include only criteria that are
demonstrated in the accredited degree program or track.
In all cases, the program must highlight only the 1-2 cells on the matrix that point to
the greatest evidence of student achievement.(For a sample matrix, see Appendix 4)
[NOTE: Elective courses are not to be included on the matrix.]
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Postby RickBalkins » Wed Dec 15, 2010 7:10 am

http://education-portal.com/articles/Bu ... ofile.html

http://education-portal.com/articles/Bu ... esign.html

To attain the skills neccessary to do this competently, you need to gain competence in all those areas as extracted from the NAAB criteria.

This will also mean being able to draft construction documents. It is also critically important to understand how buildings are put together. Having some construction knowledge will give you many insights to construction.

It must be clearly noted that materials like wood is a variable. Considering lumber can variate by a great deal in length, warpage, etc. So in such design, significant tolerances must taken for wet and dry conditions and the normal expansion and contraction.

It is important to consider that. A good builder can make a good designer when the builder's construction knowledge is coupled with the other set of knowledge of the design profession.

You don't need to be a master builder. Just a competent builder with a competent foundation knowledge in construction.
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Postby average joe » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:51 am


You seem to be the type of person that could, with some difficulty, become an architectural cad technician. I wouldn't go far beyond that based on your OP that appears to show a general unwillingness to go that first mile let alone that extra mile.

Good luck.
average joe
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Studying Abroad

Postby ARKiTEK1 » Thu Mar 24, 2011 5:57 pm

Just getting into the field and I'm amazed at how many resources are available for students nowadays. I've been following Paul Steelman's work lately, a world renowned architect from Las Vegas, NV. Here's what he had to say on the importance of studying abroad in our field: http://paulsblog.steelmanpartners.com/?p=452
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To those who would be Architects

Postby WalkerARCHITECTS » Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:08 pm

To those who would be Architects, make that move very carefully because it is unlikely if you work in the United States, that you will be allowed to retire as an Architect. Long before you could earn and save enough money to have a retirement, somewhere between age 45 and 50 you will be laid off and thereafter no firm will hire you.

By that time all the firms will have as many people of that experience level as they need. They need interns to drive AutoCAD or Archi-Cad or Revit or Design Station or whatever. But licensed architects?.....How many do they need? There are serious limits to that number to the extent that for most of you there is no professional future at all.

So the good news is that once you get your license in the US. If you or your family has lots of money, or you marry someone who has lots of money then you can start your own practice. If you are really good then you can be a Architect and design buildings as a profession. Trust me, it really is that bad!

Give it up now and study engineering, or medicine or better yet get a law degree. Do not waste your life trying to be an Architect in the United States. The firms will not let you succeed.
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Postby navinr » Thu Jun 02, 2011 10:40 am

Walkerarchitect is exactly correct!
I graduated architecture school in 83', passed all parts of the 4 day exam the first time in 86', I've been a licensed architect and licensed gc in several states for a long time. When work is booming things can be good, but whenever the economy falters like it is now architects are the first to be laid off and the last to be rehired.
I decided to change fields a long time ago; I started taking building code certification tests and eventually got a job as a Building Official in Los Angeles where I've been for 10 years now; a much, much more stable position, about double the pay, much better benefits, 401k, retirement, and I still do small architecture projects as a hobby.
The ideals of the architecture profession are great but the reality can be very, very difficult.
Anyone thinking about being an architect should watch the video "so you want to be an architect" on youtube if you haven't already; it is very true:
Good luck to all you brave (and naive) architecture students.
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Re: Dreaming to be an architect/designer

Postby dytecture » Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:28 pm

Being an architect is not as creative and free as one thinks. An architect spends the majority of time going to meetings with clients, engineers, city officials, suppliers and above all try to satisfy all the needs from the various disciplines. Sometimes a design is not possible due to budget, zoning, or setback constrains, not to mention public petition if a project is considered sensitive.
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