In Depth

11 Things they don’t teach you in architecture school

“A lot come in, but a few go out” that was the first thing that our Dean shared with us at Architecture school Orientation, and he was not lying. It took 6 years to earn my master’s degree and that statement is still with me to this day. Here are eleven other facts that I picked up the hard way.

#1    If you get too much sleep you are doing it wrong.

My longest period of working without sleeping was 56 hours, during my final bachelor year. I Recall being in the subway in one hand I had my paper and in the other my Tsquare, struggling to stay awake, and at one point I caught the eye of some teenagers that asked me if I was on any drugs and I replied “yes I’m on Architecture it will mess you up so don’t try it”. Catching up on your sleep during classes will be something trivial by the end of your first year, for you and your colleagues.

#2    Get used to life between deadlines
As you advance through the years the more deadlines you will have, the best thing you can do is manage your time and not panic, improvise as much as you can and never forget, if you have just one source of inspiration it’s called plagiarism however if you have many it’s RESEARCH.

#3    Forget about right or wrong

After your second year you will gather enough knowledge to make your projects without errors however your tutors will tend to always critic the weak points of your projects and sometimes they enjoy doing this to the strong points as well, my advice would be to define your own standards and enhance your persuasion skills, it will be good training for later on.

#4    Some rules are there just to be broken.

A student who challenges the M.O and finding alternate solutions to problems will always have more value than others, and when doing this successfully the reward is even greater.

#5    Get involved in many internships.

Just learning about construction materials will be bothersome, a more direct approach will go a long way, the more you know the less worried you will be, and you will learn more on site from contractors than anywhere else.

#6    Question everything.
Some people feel embarrassed when they do not understand, do not be afraid to ask for clarification, most problems emerge out of lack of communication.

#7    Don’t worry about high grades too much.

You will have a lot of classes and it will be close to impossible to get high grades in all of them, and quite frankly most of the knowledge you learn from college will not be crucial information that you will use afterwards anyway. Try to invest more in human relationships because in the end you will find out that it’s more important who you know than what you know.

#8    Cherish the profession.
Most architects work for the profession not for the money but because they have a passion for their work, and this passion makes everything else worthwhile. Even with below-average pay, many architects know they are providing a valuable service and love every minute of it, especially when a client truly appreciates their finished work on a project. Also, the pay usually does increase with experience and can even be lucrative if you reach the top levels of the profession.

9#    Look on the bright side

Even though some architecture schools have high math requirements, architects say that very little math is actually involved in their day-to-day routines. The advanced levels of math such as calculus is usually handled by the engineers or other specialists involved with a project.General overall knowledge, good drawing skills, an inquiring nature, and excellent communication abilities are actually the most important qualities for architects to possess.

#10    Think outside the box

All work and no play is no fun, it is important that you take a step back once in a while and relax or do something totally different. The more you get buried in a problem the less likely to find the solution try looking at the problem from a different angle you can even risk adding a bit of fun to the equation, sure everybody loves a hardworker but working smart is a lot better.

#11   You have to learn how to chase down a deadbeat client.
No matter how good architect or how decent you are, but eventually this will happen. Sometimes it’s intentional, sometimes it’s unintentional, but it’s always frustrating. There’s not much you can do, outside of having a good contract, honoring your part in it, and continually following up until you get paid. Don’t threaten to break any knees. Nobody is scared of a designer’s keyboard muscles anyway.

By: Toni Cristian Tanase
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