10.22.04 October News
“Don’t waste the pretty.”
–Quote from He’s Just Not That Into You
Two writers from the TV show Sex and the City have recently published a best-selling book on relationships, essentially concluding that guys are pretty easy to figure out. Either they’re into you and they’ll put energy into the relationship, or they’re not that into you and you should move on. “Don’t waste the pretty” is a popular quote from the book that says it all: you shouldn’t spend your best years trying to change some guy who’s never going to change.
While we at ArchVoices remain studiously agnostic about whether guys can change, we think it’s worth considering whether architecture firms can change. In the book, women make excuses for guys, like “he doesn’t want to ruin our friendship” or “he’s just coming off a tough relationship.” In reality, many architecture interns make similar excuses for their firms: “We don’t have enough work.” “We have too much work.” “After we get through this project.” “It’s only been six months.” “We’re just going through a transition.”
If any of those excuses sound familiar, our question to you is simply, are you going to waste arguably the most important years in your professional life waiting for your firm to respect you? Are you going to ‘waste the pretty’?
The co-authors of the 1996 Building Community report noted that, “In short, we feel that only firms prepared to treat interns as investments ought to hire them” (p.123). Because your career development is your responsibility, it’s your responsibility to leave a firm that ignores or otherwise disrespects you. The problem is that no firm is going to tell you, “Here at XYZ Architects, you’re on your own,” just as no guy is going to say, “I’m just not that into you.” Instead all firms say, “We value mentorship really a lot.” But then some get too busy to spend important alone time with you. They’re just not that into you.
There are many fantastic architecture firms out there, but finding them is hard. That’s where InsideArch comes in. InsideArch is a web-based resource dedicated to collecting information and perspectives about the work, culture, and employee experience in individual architecture firms. This resource was created by a single young professional as a means of collecting and comparing the qualitative work experience at firms across the country. As of this month, InsideArch has over 500 individual firms reviewed by real people just like you who have taken the time to tell you what it’s like to work in their firm.
InsideArch exists as much to highlight the great firms as to help you think twice about others. If you work at a great firm, you should tell the world. If you think you can help future interns avoid a big mistake, your review can highlight some of the tough questions to ask.
Internship is a crucial phase of your professional career. So don’t waste it waiting for someone else to change.
1. Archinect Introduces Weekly Email Newsletter
2. MetropolisMag.com Launches Competitions Webpage
3. “Pause, Rewind” Registration Deadline Today
4. ASLA Annual Meeting
5. NOMA Annual Meeting
6. Responses to “Get Registered, Today” Issue
7. Responses to “Know Thyself” Issue
8. Response to “Pause, Rewind” Issue
9. Responses to “Design Studio” Issue
1. Archinect Introduces Weekly Email Newsletter
Alongside its redesigned website, Archinect.com has initiated a weekly email newsletter, which like the rest of the site, is provided free of charge. Each of the first few issues have included profiles of new feature stories showcased on Archinect.com; top news headlines from the past week; events from the Archinect calendar; as well as a listing of ongoing exhibitions and opportunities. This week’s edition also highlighted Harvard Design School as part of the Archinect Student Blog Project.
The goal of Archinect is to make architecture more connected and open-minded by bringing together designers from around the world to introduce new ideas from all disciplines. It was established in 1997, and it has since become a top online destination for progressive students, educators, and designers.
To subscribe to the newsletter, visit http://archinect.com/members/register.php, or go to http://archinect.com for more information.
2. MetropolisMag.com Launches Competitions Webpage
Earlier this month, Metropolis magazine launched a new page of its website, dedicated exclusively to competitions. Metropolis‘ effort comes on the heels of a similar effort by The Architect’s Newspaper (www.archpaper.com/competitions.html), which we promoted previously.
Among many other listings, Metropolis includes one about its own competition, the Next Generation Design Prize. Created to jump-start entrepreneurial design projects, the competition is open to any designer who has been working for ten years or less. Projects that reflect thinking about sustainability, universal access, and new technology are encouraged. Submissions may come from multiple disciplines, including: architecture, interior design, industrial design, experience design, communication design, and urban planning. The competition’s winner will receive $10,000 and be featured in the June issue of Metropolis and on MetropolisMag.com; ten to fifteen runners-up will also receive coverage. An application form and full competition details are available online.
3. “Pause, Rewind” Registration Deadline Today
November 18, 2004 | Boston, MA
Today is the early registration deadline for ArchVoices’ second annual Build Boston symposium, “Pause, Rewind.” Hosted by ArchVoices in partnership with Metropolis magazine and the Boston Society of Architects (BSA), this interactive forum will challenge young professionals to reflect on our purpose and experiences as designers in the world. What is it that drives us? What inspires us? What restricts us?
Speakers and panelists include: Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Rose Architectural Fellowship Program; Maurice Cox, Past Mayor of Charlottesville and current Loeb Fellow; Chris Mulvey, coordinator of the Safdie Research Fellowship; Susan Szenasy, editor-in-chief of Metropolis magazine; finalists of the 2004 Metropolis Next Generation competition; as well as a panel of architecture students from Boston-area schools.
You may register for one or more individual sessions (C03, C24, C42 and/or C66). The sessions cost $15 each if you register today, October 22, and $20 each thereafter. Or you may register for the entire “Pause, Rewind” symposium using the code “CPR.” Click here to register online.
Visit www.buildboston.com/archvoices for more information.
4. NOMA Annual Meeting & Expo
October 28-30, 2004 | New York, NY
Next weekend, the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) will convene its 32nd International Congress & Expo–a three-day conference that offers multiple continuing education opportunities via workshops, seminars, and tours. The theme of this year’s conference is “Building Bridges,” including an international symposium featuring architects from Africa, the Caribbean, and United Kingdom.
The cost of registration for NOMA members is $330; non-members $600; new members $250; and students $200.
Contact NOMA by email at email@example.com or phone at 202/686-2780 for more information.
5. ASLA Annual Meeting & Expo
October 29-November 2, 2004 | Salt Lake City, UT
Addressing the theme “Natural Spaces, Public Places,” the 2004 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Annual Meeting will provide a wide range of educational opportunities with a focus on the great outdoors and public-private partnerships.
Current and onsite registration fees range from $225 for ASLA student members to $890 for non-ASLA member professionals. One-day registration options are also available. As a professional courtesy, ASLA extends its member rates in the Professional registration category to members of the AIA and the American Planning Association (APA).
Contact the ASLA by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 202/898-2444 for more information.
6. Responses to “Get Registered, Today” Issue
“Excellent! We all need to be reminded from time to time that sometimes the most important thing an architectural professional can do to make a difference has nothing to do with architecture. The architectural community exists in the context of a larger national community of diverse individuals with different career paths, levels of education, faiths, heritages, experiences and values who all have one thing in common, one vote each.”
–Paul L. Taylor Jr., AIA, NOMA (Baltimore, MD)
“I want to thank you for having dedicated this ArchVoices to the issue of voting! A female architecture professor at Portland State University once said that it’s been far too long since we had an architect as a U.S. president. I believe that to be true.”
–Marcela Pena, InSomno Design (Portland, OR)
“Thank you for taking on this topic. Not only is everyone’s vote important, but many of our grandmothers/fathers and great-grandmothers/fathers and on back fought for the right for many of us to be able to go to the polls. So many people do not seem to know that women in the USA were not ‘given’ the vote until 1920, and it took a constitution’s amendment (19th) to secure it against states’ rights to revoke it locally. My mother is the first women in my family to be born with the right to vote. African American males were ‘given’ the vote 60 years before American women were, and that also took a constitutional amendment in 1876. These rights were not given graciously, but were hard won in a battle whose last chapter spanned more than 60 years. I can’t imagine what our foremothers and forefathers would think if they saw today’s voter apathy.”
–Donna Gamache, The Lawrence Group (St. Louis, MO)
“You folks never cease to amaze me. I have nothing but respect and admiration for the work you do! Thank you for crossing over in this issue to getting out the vote! You are very thorough in every issue you approach. Thanks for being here.”
–Dirk DeVault Assoc. AIA
“Presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz-Kerry have been involved in the area of sustainability for a number of years and both have been leaders in environmental issues. Here are some things you and your readers might not know:
John and Theresa met in 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development, and three years later they married. Together with others they founded Second Nature, an organization that promotes ‘education for sustainability.’ In August 2001, Second Nature held a conference that asked ‘How Can the Architect Contribute to a Sustainable World?’ at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Wingspread conference center in Racine, Wis. The conference participants included representatives of all five collateral architectural organizations (ACSA, AIA, AIAS, NAAB, and NCARB). In 2001, Theresa was awarded the first Gold Medal ever given by AIA Pittsburgh, and she is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. In 2003, the Pittsburgh Green Building Alliance awarded her the ‘Shades of Green’ award for her vision and contributions to the greening of the region.”
–Michael Miranda (Pittsburgh, PA)
“Although I don’t always agree with the views or topics ArchVoices expresses, I have to admit that out of all the weekly emails I get, I find ArchVoices to be the most enlightening and useful. Case in point with today’s topic on Voter Registration, I was able to easily and quickly use the links you provided to verify that my change of address went through in time to get updated for the election in November.
Like I said, I don’t always agree with the points of view expressed in the newsletter, but I welcome the discourse and wholly encourage it to keep on going.”
–Erik Hagen, AIA, NCARB, LEED, The Hartman Majewski Design Group (Albuquerque, NM)
“I just wanted to congratulate you for stressing the importance of voting (as well as the overall great work of your organization). I am President of the AIA Miami Chapter and I am constantly stressing the importance of voting. In our last newsletter, I tried reminding the members why it is important to vote. Below is an excerpt:
‘Who will be tasked with implementing the future of our urban environment? In my dream world: architects and design professionals. In the real world: politicians. We as architects are not known as politicians, so we must educate the politicians on the importance of why design is vital to our future. We in Miami will be electing a slew of politicians to a variety of positions from county mayor to school board members to commissioners and state representatives in the next few months. Let us get involved in who gets elected and how they understand urban planning and design.
First and foremost, VOTE!!! You can only praise or complain if you are part of the process. 2) Educate all your friends, family members, co-workers, acquaintances, etc. You would be surprised at the extent of your influence and how your circle of members can understand design and urban planning and its importance to our future. But prior to being able to do No. 1 or 2, you need to know who is running for office and what their ideas are. These ideas can always be modified or improved by the design professional that takes the time to educate the politicians. Amazingly enough, they want to know what prospective voters think and want. Let’s take advantage of that. Nothing captures the attention of politicians as much as a strong constituency that pursues a goal.
Our chapter has an elections committee, which this year interviewed the mayoral, county commissioners and school board candidates to try and discern a) who to vote for and b) most importantly educate the candidates as to the issues that affect all architects. We then endorsed the candidates and put an ad in the local newspaper publicly endorsing the candidates under AIA Miami’s logo. Now we just have to wait and see who actually votes.’
Again, thanks for presenting such an important issue and I hope many more young people will take the challenge and VOTE!”
–Lourdes Solera, AIA, MCHarry Associates, Inc.; President, AIA Miami (Miami, FL)
7. Responses to “Know Thyself” Issue
“The recent short article, ‘Know Thyself,’ is very informative and well-written, thank-you. I continually enjoy receiving the ArchVoices newsletter and its pertinent articles. If our profession, one of the oldest and most classical, is to garner respect in today’s world, we must know who we are before we can promote ourselves or ask others to join us. I know my husband as a PhD candidate in languages belongs to the Modern Language Association (MLA). The MLA and their website have continually updated facts and figures on who graduates from where, graduate specialties, and type and level of employment (or unemployment). A simple concerted effort by the AIA and NCARB to survey member firms and/or ARE takers could gather this information. Frankly, the mission and purpose of the AIA and NCARB oblige them to do so.”
–Celine Hardan Gladwin
“ArchVoices should be commended for your efforts in forcing the issue on this matter. As a former leader in AIA and in NAAB I recognize what you are seeking is simply the self assessment that NAAB, and by AIA through its participation in NAAB, require our academic programs to perform upon themselves as a part of the accreditation process.
Your work is substantive and relevant.
I encourage your continued thoughtful leadership.
Thank you for the contribution you are making to our profession. Well done!”
–James H. Anstis, FAIA (West Palm Beach, FL)
“A minor correction: although Socrates occasionally made mention of the injunction, ‘Know thyself,’ he shouldn’t receive credit for coining it. ‘Know thyself’ is the inscription inscribed above the entry to the Oracle at Delphi. The thrust of the command being that before one proceeds to ask questions about the future, one ought to know oneself: one’s reasons for asking, what one hopes to gain, etc. In alignment with this, the Greeks also used to say that ‘character is destiny.’ Who you are determines how the cosmos makes use of you. If architecture would know its destiny, I think it had best get to work knowing itself. Collecting and interpreting a bit of relevant data sounds like a good place to begin. Keep up the good work.”
“After reading the email issue of ArchVoices ‘Know Thyself,’ a light clicked on in my head. If I am about to join a profession that does not even know how many people are technically licensed to practice said profession, it is no wonder that I am next to clueless about what happens after graduation. It is of some comfort, though small, to know that I am not the only one clueless about the inner workings of the architecture profession. Yet as clueless as I feel, I have learned more about the process to become an architect from this newsletter in the past two years than I have learned from four years of college professors. I have been told by some professors that a syllabus makes the learning process too cut and dry, not free enough to allow for new thought. Does the profession feel the same way about the criteria to become a licensed architect? Does anyone really know or understand what the requirements of IDP are? The ARE? State licensing in general? All of my endeavors to find out have ended up in the same place: without a straight answer and horribly confused as to whether or not I will ever know how to pursue licensure. Perhaps instead of designing a fifth-year thesis project, I should design a database of state requirements, national requirements, and the circus hoops that aspiring architects should brace themselves for as they enter the unknown and murky realm of a professional career in architecture.
Thank you for your article, and for all you do to make the way a little more clear for all of us on our way.”
–Ruth Rau, fifth-year student, Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA)
“I want to take a moment to thank you for all your hard work and unyielding dedication to the future of this great profession. I am so proud that we have such capable members aggressively working for the common good and critically examining all the issues. I (and countless others, I’m sure) greatly appreciate your ability to take a strong and intelligent stand on behalf of the all-too-often overlooked new generations. THANK YOU and keep it up!”
–Jessica Miller (Seattle, WA)
“I have been wanting to write and respond about a topic about which I hope I’m wrong: The issue of ArchVoices and AIA working together. When I initially saw your website and heard about your organization, I was immediately interested, and that level of interest continues even today. Yet, in every issue of ArchVoices newsletter, I read about AIA conferences being held at different cities. I think AIA’s website can tell everyone about that. I want to see how ArchVoices as an organization is able to evaluate what actually happens at these AIA conferences. Also, where does AIA stop and ArchVoices take on and vice versa?
We have all been ranting so long about interns and their status. Nothing has been done. They continue to be treated in the same way they have always been treated. Your essay competition is one medium of venting out my frustration. But then again, after it’s over, it’s probably discussed and then forgotten. The truth is that the AIA does not really recognize interns for any other reasons other than membership revenue. ArchVoices recognizes interns and their future. That is why I would like to be a part of ArchVoices and I don’t care much about being a part of the AIA.
I just feel that ArchVoices is going off-track in what seems to be a gradually increasing association with the AIA and its activities. The AIA is not the reason why ArchVoices was established. What I envisaged in ArchVoices has, however, been established by a new website called AREforum.org (www.areforum.org), and I’m sure you are familiar with it. It doesn’t have a fancy website or sponsors, but I am amazed how many interns are working with and helping each other for no apparent benefit. Therein lies the real spirit, which I hoped to find in ArchVoices. That website is actually helpful; it doesn’t discuss what’s happening at AIA and NCARB. I would like to see ArchVoices become more interactive than just what it is right now. I am writing in good faith that this will be read. As again, I will continue to read ArchVoices and be a part of all its activities no matter what, because someday I am sure I will find my voice, which is now lost in the AIA.”
–Writer requested to remain anonymous
“I read with interest your ‘Know Thyself’ issue. While it was statistically informative, the tone of the issue was even more informative to me. I wonder why ArchVoices is so constantly (almost joyfully) critical of what the AIA does? The problem of not knowing who passed the exam and the demographics ought to be resolved by NCARB–who seem to get a ‘free ride’ in your email messages that chastise AIA. Notice in the section on how other professions do it that all the organizations cited are ‘National Council of something.’ Chiding the AIA for not keeping statistics is like the IDP issue where NCARB collects all of the money and wants AIA members to do all the mentoring work. Despite my comment I do appreciate receiving your messages.”
–Daniel Chun, FAIA, Kauahikaua & Chun Architects (Honolulu, HI)
“I’m an intern architect in Toronto, and thought I would share with you an issue which has recently arisen here:
Last year, a group at McGill University (in Montreal) was commissioned by the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) to conduct a survey on the state of the profession in Ontario and the country in general. Among the findings: interns just aren’t bothering to complete the registration process anymore, to the extent that they have predicted a shortage of licensed architects by 2007. (You can access the PDF document at the OAA website at http://oaa.on.ca, under Services & Resources following the links to ‘Succeeding by Design.’) In response, the OAA recently sent a survey to all of its intern members (and asked that they in turn forward it to graduates of architecture schools who haven’t even bothered to register as interns), with the aim of determining why.
It seems from the questions asked in the survey that the OAA already has a pretty good idea why interns here aren’t finishing the registration process: the licensing process is far too onerous when compared with the paltry rewards for completing it: legal liabilities, poor pay, requirements for continuing education (which you may not be required to do in the U.S.), higher professional fees, restrictions on abilities to practice under various models, etc. On top of that, the provincial government here recently passed legislation requiring architects to regularly pass exams to obtain certification in the Ontario Building Code.
I am one of those interns who is extremely reluctant to complete the registration process. I have completed all of my time-based requirements, but have to date not written any of the NCARB exams. As things stand now, the process is onerous to the point of despair, while the profession has placed before me not a single incentive for becoming registered. Indeed, the prospects for architects here is very poor. It is estimated that about 50% of the architecture firms in Canada bill less than CAD$100,000 (US$80,000) a year–meaning that half the firms in this country are sole practitioners operating out of their home offices. The average annual gross income for a sole practitioner in this province is about CAD$60,000 (US$48,000). Financially speaking, then, half of the licensed practitioners here operate at subsistence levels–not much reward given the amount of training required.
It seems that, should this shortage of registered architects persist, the sole practitioners will likely disappear, as will many small ’boutique’ firms. The only registered architects in Canada will be those whose names appear on the letter-head as partners in the firm–and who are too busy running a business to actually practice architecture; the people actually practicing architecture (designing buildings) will be those unregistered graduates of architectural schools who work under them.
Cheers on the great website.”
–Robert Boyd (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
“This is an excellent article that only exposes the shortcomings of our diminished profession. Perhaps you should add a forum space for national and international discussion on topics such as this. Thank you for the article.”
–Lee Carter, AIA, Cash & Associates, Inc. (Detroit, MI)
“I wanted to contribute a bit of news that I recently had the unfortunate opportunity to discover. Two days ago, in the local newspaper here in Louisville, KY, there was an article on the local AIA chapter and myself. A little personal background: I have a Bachelor of Architecture, post-professional Master of Architecture, I’m enrolled in IDP (almost done!), and have been working fulltime for four years. The article was on the Architects in Education program for which I am the chairperson. The reporter failed to label me as an ‘architectural intern’ and instead mislabeled me as an ‘architect.’ Upon reading the article, I quickly contacted her to post a correction and copied the Kentucky Board of Architects. The reporter wanted clarification of my title and personally contacted the board, which told her that I could not be legally labeled as an ‘architectural intern’ because I haven’t registered to take my test. So, I contacted the board to have my own clarification and was given the same answer.
Based on the law here in the state of Kentucky, any person graduating from an accredited school of architecture and hasn’t completed IDP has no title and is not legally recognized even as an ‘architectural intern.’ Our state board argues that they have no ‘proof’ that I have graduated from an accredited architecture program or that I am enrolled in NCARB’s IDP. They directed me to their website and encouraged me to download the application to begin taking the ARE, plus pay $100. Yet, our board also stressed that I could only submit that form when NCARB was sending proof that I have completed the IDP process and that I was eligible to sit for the ARE. Again, this puts others and myself in the ‘no title’ zone. Of course, I strongly expressed my deep dissatisfaction and utter disgust with this rule, and that the board should develop a process to track people like myself. I followed up with forwarding the AIA’s ‘Best Practices: Definition of Architect Positions’ and an explanation that ‘architectural intern’ best fits my job description and that my employers and others all refer to people in my position as ‘architectural interns.’ I have yet to get a response, though I plan to follow-up.
How this ties in with ‘Know Thyself’ is the complete lack of acknowledgement the architecture profession has for interns. I know that there have been many programs created to better the intern experience, and I fully acknowledge that NCARB and the IDP have also improved the quality of the ‘intern experience.’ Alas, interns still have no footing to stand on. The schools under prepare students for the profession and the firms just shove us in a corner. All interns dream of passing the ARE and becoming a registered architect so they can gain some respect, more responsibility, and a chance at autonomy. Of course there are exceptions to this, and some non-registered accredited school graduates are ‘beating the system,’ but not all are so lucky. Though I don’t expect there to be a massive uprising of newly graduated non-registered interns, I do hope that interns begin to demand more from their job and of their future.
One plan of action for interns would be to direct their demands to the organizations and state boards. The pressure on the organizations and state boards will then trickle down to the firms. The organizations and state boards can lobby for rules and regulations and regulate them as well. The concept is that interns should come together and lobby to these large groups of architects. These same interns, once registered, should not abandon this course, because we should not forget that the intern is our future. We should embrace and support them, so that they will in turn do the same with their interns.”
–Chris Bowling, Assoc. AIA, K. Norman Berry Associates (Louisville, KY)
“So long as you only focus on the statistics that relate to a select group of new architects (‘…minorities and women…’) I have no interest in your statistics. My guess is that others who have influence in our profession do not have interest either. When you open your eyes and minds to the fact that we are all architects regardless of race, gender, etc., then maybe you’ll get more people to listen to you. I have just as little interest in stats that focus on ‘minorities and women’ as I do stats that relate to ‘majorities and men,’ etc. Let’s talk about ‘architects’ and forget all the other taglines.”
–Scott Braley, FAIA, FRSA, President/CEO, Braley Consulting & Training (Atlanta, GA)
“Will the AIA ever encourage, seek out, try and promote the work done by black architects? Why aren’t black architects (and for that matter minority architects) included, sought out and encouraged to become a major part of the organization? Why isn’t the work of black architects paraded across the pages of architecture magazines? In your article, ‘Know Thyself,’ you talk about the profession understanding itself in order to serve the public better. I say that the organization (AIA) will continue to struggle for members until they show the general public that architects come in all shapes and sizes. If today children don’t see people that they identify with becoming architects, how can we expect to attract the best and the brightest to the profession?”
–Edgar D. Brown, Jr. (Arizona)
“I really enjoy when info is uncovered that can bring light to an area of neglect. Thank you for your hard work! I’d love to broach the culture of complacency subject relevant to so many interns, but of course that would cut into my TV time! Keep up the good work.”
–Mark A. Seibold, Assoc. AIA, Architectural Design Group, Inc. (Oklahoma City, OK)
“It would seem from here in Australia that while the USA has restrictive trade practices for foreign architects, you really cannot organise your own registration system–so how would ‘Mr. Public’ know whether anyone was registered without trying to find out through an unreliable system? Who would bother if they were happy with the work done? With the cost of registration what it is–the temptation will be to forget it! You need to get these issues in order or the protection for the qualification will evaporate!”
–Gil Arnold, MBA, CMC, MIMC, AIMM, Principal, Planned Practice Management (Wangaratta, Victoria, Australia)
“I am one of those who hopes to be a part of architecture’s future. I read ArchVoices with great interest especially in the more recent editions detailing the trials and tribulations of all aspects of licensing new architects. This last edition discussing the lack of a single site to gather licensure information and data prompted me to write. I strongly agree that there should be at a minimum a single site that gathers all this data and information from each state, however, the best course of action for the U.S. would be to create a required nationwide standard for licensure and reporting list of all newly licensed architects.
I wish also to chime in on another issue I see written and talked about anywhere there are architecture students, professors, interns/non-licensed designers with degrees, or licensed architects. It is very frustrating to many of the young to be told they will need at a minimum five years of school from an accredited school and then to have to complete an internship before they are able to even consider taking the ARE. It seems to me more and more are choosing to not take on the responsibility of becoming a licensed architect out of frustration for the process.
I do understand the importance of the internship time period, as I realize for an architect to learn all there is to learn to be a responsible and safe designer takes far more time than would be reasonable for a bachelor’s degree. ‘On the job’ training provides this extra training, if the intern is surrounded by talented architects of course. I have been told such things as, ‘You’ll be working anyway, why not use that time to learn and then take the exam when it’s time.’ This does sound logical to me, but in this age of instant gratification the young people of today want to be able to go out on their own and make a name for themselves and it’s hard to be told you will have to wait a minimum of three years before they can even start to take the exams. Oh, and forget it if their school wasn’t accredited, even one that is recognized nationally as having an excellent program. It can be very frustrating.
Now, for my story so that you might get some idea where I am coming from. I am a woman, approaching 40, who has dreamed of being an architect all my life. I have a degree in art but have not had the time or resources, i.e., the availability of school nearby to attend (military wife) to make that dream happen until recently. I instead became a chef, through the school of hard knocks-yes ‘on-the-job’ training. I was able to become licensed simply based on my years of experience and skill; I did not go to culinary school.
Meanwhile, I kept up with my knowledge of architecture, reading books and publications hoping one day to be able to get my degree in architecture. I am finally within driving distance of a school that I have dreamt of attending, but since it has been some time since I was in school I am attending a local community college that offers a CAD program in architecture. I realize I do not need these particular classes to get into architecture school, but I knew they would give me exposure to the adjunct professors who are out in the field.
Yes, I am a bit disheartened by the thought of three and a half years of graduate school followed by a three-year internship. I am not even in graduate school yet and so I am looking at being close to fifty before I can even begin to look into taking the ARE. I can see how that wait would be frustrating to the younger instant gratification generation, of which I am a mother to.
I often wonder whatever happened to the age-old system of experience. I look back at the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright and others of his time, who learned their trade at the elbows of others before them. I would like to be working in architecture now. I have been told by architect friends and professors who have seen my work that I have what it takes to be a good designer, but I would not be happy to be held to single-family homes and churches holding less than 100 people. I want more.
I am sorry for the length of my email, but I could no longer stand by and listen to details of the problems in the whole licensing process. I felt it was time for someone to speak up and express some concern that if those of you who are in the profession don’t have a strong grip on the process, perhaps it isn’t working and what faith should those of us waiting to start that process have in it? I am only hoping someone steps up and cleans it up before I get to that point, because, yes, I do want to become a licensed architect, even if it’s from the bed of my nursing home.”
–Rainham D. M. H. Rowe (Chesapeake, VA)
“Your issue started by saying, …’2,500 years ago, Socrates used this phrase to make the point that we need to understand the extent of our own ignorance. In that regard, it is important to first acknowledge what the profession doesn’t know about its newest members, and by extension, its future.’…
While this is true to a great extent, the other end of the spectrum, the value of our oldest membership, remains the biggest ‘black hole’ even to those attentive to the role they play in the practice of architecture as a whole. It is believed by some that the present must maintain a balance of the mature products of the past and the proactive prospect of the future. And in many ways, the past has become critically important because we have let it slip from our short attention spans and those who carry its values, experience and resources, slide, in ever more increasing numbers, into oblivion. Those who know the past best are the ones we most ignore, and not because Socrates says so. These are the seniors in the profession who are told they have lost their economic value and are retired because of their age.”
–Dennis J. McLaughlin, NCARB
“Are you surprised that AIA is so out of touch? The lack of participation by the minority architectural community is even larger. The AIA is ineffective as lobbyist and out of touch with the time.”
–Alex Garcia, RA, AICP, El Taller Colaborativo, P.C. (Newark, NJ)
8. Response to “Pause, Rewind” Issue
“Although this has nothing to do with architecture, this certainly has something to do with the theme of this and last year’s Build Boston symposiums that ArchVoices plays host to.
This past fall, I decided to live out my childhood dream of biking across the country while raising money for cancer research through the American Cancer Society. The ride started on April 30 in San Diego and ended July 3 in Charleston. I set an original goal of $5,000 and met that two weeks into the ride. I upped the goal to $10,000 and finished the ride at $7,000 when I finished in Charleston. Today, over three months later, I exceeded my $10,000 goal!
The ride changed my life in many ways. I have the confidence to do anything I set out to do. I also re-evaluated everything with architecture and realized my skills and passions lie in teaching the next generation of architects. I will be going back for a year to get a master’s degree, and then pursue a teaching career.
Anyway, the gist of this message is that you can do anything that you want to do. Envision the future, ‘make no small plans,’ and live out your dreams.
A friend of mine put together a website with photos, stories, newspaper articles, and other info: http://www.kjstour.com. Check it out when you get a chance. I am in the process of writing a book about the ride too.
Keep up the good work promoting and informing the next generation of architects! I look forward to your emails each Friday.”
–Kevin J. Singh, AIA, Karlsberger (Columbus, OH)
9. Responses to “Design Studio” Issue
“Gentlemen: As a dinosaur who went through the studio experience in the late 70’s, I have a natural inclination to view today’s complaints of the system as mostly the whining and bleating of a privileged, coddled and pampered generation of youth, looking to work less for greater success that is viewed as an entitlement. Despite my misgivings, I read Tom Fisher’s article in hope of gaining some perspective into the future of our profession. While there were some cogent arguments, the spirit of the debate was fouled by his gratuitous and stereotypical assertion that prior studio cultures were macho and/or juvenile due to the dominance of white men. What rubbish! As an educator, he should know better than to paint all members of a class with the same brush. I know it’s fashionable and easy to blame us white men folk for all the planet’s ills, but it simply isn’t true and further erodes the basis for meaningful discussion. There were several brown, yellow, tan and black folk (of both genders!) in my studios and no one felt the need then to categorize any one individual’s behavior as part of an ethnic, racial or cultural identity. The more we subdivide by category or characteristic, the more divided we become. It’s why this once proud UNITED states is becoming more balkanized each day.”
–Bob Krieger, Dahn & Krieger Architects Planners PC (Hackensack, NJ)
“I just finished reading your article titled, ‘The Past and the Future of Studio Culture.’ I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the quote that was taken from an attendee of the Studio Culture Summit, which went something like this: ‘now that you and your wife have separated, you will have more time for studio.’
I had to laugh when I read that. Though I really do indeed believe in the design studio model of education for architecture, I find the long hours tough at times. As a single mom of a 2-1/2 year old, sometimes I worry he will forget who I am.
It was interesting to read how the studio model came about. I am presently in my first year of the grad program in architecture. My prior education was in studio art and art history, so I am well-trained in the studio method, though never have I ever spent so many hours at my drafting table! Our studio professors are wonderful; they really open the door to creative discovery. My only wish is that we could get more time with them.
I do have one question, does anyone still teach in the apprentice method? Certainly there would be issues with accreditation, but I always thought it’d be neat to learn our ‘calling’ in that manner–one on one in the field. Again, thank you for such an interesting article.”
–Name withheld; submitted by email directly to the author.
“First, let me congratulate you for your great efforts in promoting excellence in architectural education studio teaching, and empowering young professionals. Since most of my work (research and consulting)–over the last 15 years has been focusing on architectural education and studio teaching practices, I have been following the development of your website over the last two years. I am really impressed by the quality of articles, interventions, and issues presented.
This message is written for two reasons: First, to draw your attention to two books on studio culture and architectural education generally that I’ve authored or co-authored in the past couple years. Both are available online as downloadable PDF documents. One is called Architectural Education Today: Cross Cultural Perspectives and the other is called New Trends in Architectural Education: Designing the Design Studio.
Second, I would also be grateful if you could kindly post the following call for contributions, ‘Rethinking Design Studio Teaching Practices: Between traditional, revolutionary, and virtual models.’ The call relates to a publication called Open House International, a quarterly, academic, blind-reviewed journal, published in the United Kingdom by Urban International Press. I have been asked to guest edit the March 2006 edition of the journal, which will explore studio teaching practices by investigating pedagogical aspects that associate different studio teaching models–traditional, revolutionary, and virtual. Research papers in this issue will introduce cases that shed light on paradigmatic shifts in studio teaching practices in the developed and the developing worlds. Papers may reflect on a wide spectrum of studio types including architectural, interior, landscape, urban, and community design studios. While some papers will place emphasis on creativity and social responsibility as integral components in studio teaching, others will explore dialectic relationships between contents, methods, teaching/learning styles; process-product mechanisms; problem representations vs. exploring solutions; competition vs. collaboration; and the tools utilized by studio educators to achieve their studio teaching objectives. Your readers may contact me directly by email at email@example.com for further information on submission dates and guidelines.”
–Ashraf Salama, PhD, Associate Professor of Architecture, College of Environmental Design, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (Dharhan, Saudi Arabia)
“How dare you try to make the architecture profession and the educators of architects think about how we can ‘do it better’?!?!
Now what do we do about it? What can old retired practitioners (like me) do to provide input and balance to these thoughts? What can the routine practitioner (the 50% to 60% of licensed architects in small offices) do to help? How can you get these ‘too busy professionals’ to speak about what they should have learned in studio (school) and through IDP? How can we provide more motivation to practitioners to push for better solutions rather than just putting up another strip mall or ‘big box’ store or office/production facility?
What can we all do to bring more thought and research into the profession to make our living and working environment better? Possibilities such as Neuroscience and Architecture? What will the AIA and other associations really do about it? Hopefully they’ll take real action, not just talk-talk-talk!
Keep on with your thinking and probing and pushing to make our profession better and more of the calling I answered in 1949.”
–David L. Bowie, CCS, CCCA, AIA, CSI, ALA
“I was putting together a conference in New York for the Association for Community Design (ACD) in 1995 when I asked Thomas Fisher to participate. I learned more in 15 minutes about the future of progressive architecture than I had in the year previous. His contribution to that conference strengthened our resolve to continue building the idea of a community design practice.
In my teaching experience at the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development (PICCED), service-learning exposed democratic processes, including courses of action that accepted university students as adults who were more interested in obtaining gainful experience than more theory. At its core, the studio experience offers a group of people the opportunity to structure the complex combination of human, material and informational interactions that bring about change.
I noticed the word ‘jury’ was absent and replaced by terms like ‘hot seat’, ‘workshop-type’, ‘studio reviews’; thankfully, all reflect the gradual loss of hubris in professional training behavior. For many, teaching is still trapped in a fifteen-week human relations nightmare, in which alternatives are desperately sought and rarely found. Academic research for the purpose of advancing knowledge has narrowed subject matter to the point of absurdity. The idea of service remains shamefully limited to a seat on a faculty committee.
In this challenging context, the ‘past forward’ vision of Dean Fisher is empowering. Effective studios train people as groups first and then as individuals. Whether conducted in a wired classroom or more broadly based in a distressed neighborhood, we learn to use tools for visualizing change as a community. The real difference a studio can offer is to expose the courage needed to actually effect change and the sensitivity essential to acquiring this sense of commitment.
With these conditions in place, a recurring studio can advance the successes and repair the failures of previous sessions. These are higher risk ventures. The potential for failure is significant. They will not succeed without a viable structure for accountability or reasonable assurance that essential resources can be made to recur with certainty.
Visualizing and effecting change is the subject of next year’s ACD and Structures for Inclusion conferences in New York City. The ACD has circulated a call for participants to describe ‘visualizing change’ processes used by design centers and other public and private sector (for-profit and nonprofit) organizations. The results will be presented and discussed from March 30-April 1 at the Center for Architecture. This is immediately followed by the Structures for Inclusion conference April 2-3, 2005 at City College in which presentations by practitioners on methods of ‘effecting change’ will be made. The agenda and schedule for each are now in the formative stages. I encourage your readers to check the ACD website (www.communitydesign.org) for more information.
–Rex Curry (Brooklyn, NY)
“I’ve been using computers for drafting and later for design since 1987, but I don’t feel that an increase in computerization of studios will improve anything. One of the fundamental shortcomings of graduates, which you have reported, is the decrease of freehand drawing and sketching skills as a means of solving problems. This has been accompanied by a decrease in fundamental knowledge of detailing. A further outcome is a fundamental disconnect from the natural and built environment as buildings become bytes to be manipulated onscreen.
All of these problems are caused, in varying degrees, by an over-reliance on CAD, and are accompanied by attitudes which match the disconnect I mentioned. Among these are hostility to universal access, economy of design (the attitude is ‘let the structural engineer take care of it’), context, environment, etc. It is interesting that some of these attitudes are evident in the work and statements of ‘name’ architects, many (but not all) of whom utilize computers extensively. While the attitude does not necessarily flow from the use of CAD, CAD does interfere with overcoming it.
I, for one, am not as sanguine about the studio model as the author, for some of the reasons mentioned above. The prevalent attitude that ‘Studio is a place to explore without constraints’ is silly, in the context of a professional education as the first step to licensure in the public interest, particularly when the public interest is violated in studio by the attitudes described. It is apparent to me, as I peruse theses of architecture students, that the attitudes continue to the point of exit. If experimentation without constraint is to take place, it should be limited to introductory studios.
As a means of reconnecting students with the real world, emulation Samuel Mockbee’s Rural Studio is in order, for at least one year out of an education. This might also help to improve the attitude among clients and the public, who see architects as increasingly irrelevant and out of touch.”
–David Hogan, Design-Science; BArch candidate, Boston Architectural Center (Concord, MA)
“Bravo Tom Fisher for opening up the Beaux Arts studio for the rest of us. Never in my dreams did I imagine it housing a group of government bureaucrats competing away at preparing schematics for spec office buildings. To the extent that unstudied history is prologue, no wonder so many modern day architects say they suffer from fear of clients and fear of construction. No wonder the profession itself is still struggling with how to marry design and practice and practice with education. Tom’s analysis finally gives us all the freedom to rethink studio in our terms. What do modern American architects need modern day American studio to be?
Here’s an ersatz blogger’s start: The modern American studio is the primary pedagogic mechanism to empower future architects to work effectively, wittingly, and collaboratively with clients and communities, and with the design and construction professions and trades, to create valued and valuable, implementable responses to the needs of society and people for sound and inviting structures and place.”
–Ava J. Abramowitz, Esq. (Waterford, VA)
“When I was in school, all we heard from the professors was, ‘When I was in school, we would stay up all night’ or ‘We didn’t have time for a life’ or other such gross generalizations relating their view of what studio life should be. But when you get to the professional world, the number and frequency of those kinds of stories diminish rapidly. I thank God that we had some administrators in my school who, with great resistance by some faculty, tried to force down time on the student body and helped our AIAS chapter fund and promote social events and experiences that got us OUT of the studio for a while.
Also, thanks to ArchVoices for the work you guys do to keep these discussions going!”
–Joshua Keough, Assoc. AIA, LEED (Detroit, MI)
As always, we welcome your thoughts by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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