Any architects here?

Just curious if there are any architects here? If so do you like you job? what is the best / worst thing about it? I am just tossing around the idea of going back to uni and studying architecture, but would love to here from someone in the industry about their thoughts.
 
i'm not an architect but i do an architects' job.

the idea of becoming a qualified architect doesn't appeal to me. 3 years of history, 2 years of design philosophy, one of design a few weeks work expereince chucked in doesn't make someone instantly qualified to design a dwelling.

designing works of art to reside in is one thing, designing a comfortable and functional home is another entirely. there are a few architects who can do both and i admire them greatly.

Frank Lloyd Wright could design an attractive and functional home.
Glenn Murcutt can design an attractive and functional home.
Simon Youngelson can and does design attractive and functional homes.
Craig Sheils can and does design attractive and functional homes.

ask around your local graduates as to just how hard it is for a freshly graduated architect to get a job - lofty ideals and theory will only take you so far.

if you want to be a GOOD architect, you need to understand construction, not just materials. learn to draft at the same time as learning design philosphy, get a grip on basic engineering and on-site construction issues.

the saying "if you drink and draw, you're a bloody architect" rings true for a lot of graduates. having no concept of on-site consequences or arguing with an engineer over a beam placement or a wall thickening means you didn't understand construction to begin with and could have designed around it in the first place.

food for thought, i hope.
 
Cant tell you about actually working as an Architect BUT I can tell you all about getting the degree.

Firstly, it is VERRY VERRY time consuming. If you want to do well, you must be prepared to put in at least a 60 hour week during term, I personally would have averaged about 70, some weeks, a few days before a submission was due, I (and most of my fellow students) were putting in 16 hr days, Usually didnt sleep the night before a submission. This wasnt through lack of preparation.

This is because Architecture is SO SO SO subjective. You can do a design that one lecturer thinks is so great they praise you as the next Alvar Alto (if you dont know who he is you'd better find out) and the next will tell you your design lacks depth and is rubbish.

We had tutorials in groups of about 7 to show and explain our designs to our tutors and they nearly always wanted you to make major changes on the last tutorial (the day or 2 days before submission).

Most uni's have a 2 degree propgramme, the first being a 3 year degree that basically doesnt qualify you to do anything but is good if you decide to do on to do another degree in a related field eg: construction management, Town Planning etc.

The you have another 2 years in the next degree, which most unis now call a masters of Architecture.

Once you pass this second degree, you then have to get a job in the industry and fill out a log book with your experience in different fields (as you complete these competancies), this is a minimum of 2 years, THEN you sit a series of exams, and if you pass those, you THEN have to sit a board where a panel of registered Architects quizzes you to decide if you are of sufficient character to be admitted into the RAIA as a registered Architect.

It is noteworthy to mention that the RAIA jealously guards the term Architect.
You CAN NOT call yourself an Architect unless you are registered with the RAIA as such. Anyone calling themselves or advertising as an Architect who is not registered can be proscecuted.

I did the first degree, had my daughter the following year and went back to 4th year the year after that, when she was 5 months old.

I found it just about impossible to handle with a small child with the amount of hours required and had to drop out. Didnt help that hubbie still thought I could do all the things that full time housewives do. He wasnt very supportive actually which is what tipped the scales for me. You must have your partners full support and he must be prepared to take on a great deal of the chores that you currently do.

It can also be a tad expensive with all the materials you have to buy for your drawings and models as well, some students with rich parents spend ALOT on their models which can make yours look very ordinary.

I had friends who got jobs in Architects offices as CAD jockeys after 3rd year (they like you to work in the industry for a year between degrees) and about 1/3 were so dissallusioned with it that they left and never went back to uni. Contrary to popular belief, the wages arnt that good. One friend of mine after 3rd year was earning less than her flat mate who worked in the deli at Woolworths. After 5th year the pay is more but still not great. Most Architects are not earning big bucks, they do the job for the love of it.

Having said all that I LOVED uni and Architecture and still have major misgivings about not continuing, the only thing stopping me is I need the money a full time job brings at the moment and will do so for a few more years. Plus Im now on the wrong side of 40 (although I was a mature age student, finished 3rd year in 2005), and I fear if I go back that at my age it will be hard to get an entry level job, especially in Newcastle where I want to stay. I earn now what a grad would earn, so 2 years without a wage wouldnt put me in front, but I also fear that I will regret following my head (staying where I am) and not following my heart (Architecture) on my death bed.

I still have a passion for Architecture and oddly I love finding new building materials, have a look at my Shipping Container House thread, this is the kind of obscure things you end up interested in once you start uni.

http://www.somersoft.com/forums/showthread.php?t=56465
 
I only did 18 months of architecture and I wholeheartedly agree with everything Bespoke said. I wasn't rich enough for a lot of the work and I kind of like right angles and practical things over wavy lines and inverted pyramids and other artsy wanky things you need an engineer to actually get to stand up. I love the concept of eco-friendly houses and passive solar design and will probably design my own house along these lines in a couple of years.

I dropped out to do computer science, and of course I now hold a long-standing obsession with houses. So I've been renovating old houses since my first in 1999, like to nosey into building sites, and would love to do some development once we have some more cash.

Architecture probably isn't the best thing to be doing until the kids are seriously more grown up and you can just slap a few $100 onto an assignment without blinking.
 
Oh, I took a long time to write the last post and in the mean time Aaron had posted his reply.

He is absolutely 100% right in what he says. Architecture is often described as a marriage between Art and Science. You have to be good at both and some are better at the art side of things which doesnt make a good architect.

The amount of times at Uni that i saw "sky hook" designs (buildings that required a hook dangling from the sky to hold them up) was incredible. In fact it was one of the most frustrating things when someone got good marks for a design that wouldnt stand up for 1 second, and they hadnt thought at all about construction in their design and you had to change something that looked great but wouldnt actually hold up. The number of times I kicked myself for thinking too much about the construction side of things and not doing a Sky hook design................................ My trouble was that my cousin is a Structural Engineer and was working on campus and I had access to her for clarification of construction issues.

any way, I digress.

Personally I think that TAFE teaches you much much much better with the practicalities of architecture- construction, learning Archicad and other CAD programmes, drawing details etc.

Uni focused heavily on design, we had 1 hr class a week on construction and 1 hr a week for 1 term in 3 years to be taught Archicad, way too little. TAFE has at least 3 hours a week for 2 years on Archidcad alone. Dont know how much they devote to construction but i reckon it would be much more than what I did. I actually enrolled in TAFE to learn Archicad cause uni just left us to our own devices to try and learn it. Its a very hard programme to learn on your own.

You can do Architectural Technology at TAFE which I think takes 2 years full time, and if you do well enough you can get advanced standing at UNi.

If I had my time over again, that is what I would do as those guys from TAFE who then went on to uni were way way way ahead of us in Archicad skills, and construction understanding and when you are time poor and trying to get a project done, knowing a CAD programme well is a real godsend.

Oh, TAFE is alot cheaper than Uni too.

Hope I havent sounded too down on the profession, just wanted to stress that the realities are that to do it you have to eat, breath and sleep Architecture (as was often told to us at uni).

Do it because you LOVE it, not because you think its glamorous or highly paid.

Dont know any Architects now as I move in different circles, but the ones I used to know really loved their jobs and wouldnt dream of doing anything else.
 
Bespoke, I reckon you would probably enjoy architecture when you're older and don't have to make a living from it. I spoke to someone the other day who started architecture and dropped out. She's planning to go back when her kids have left home and she doesn't need to earn a decent living. So she'll be doing it for her own enjoyment.
Being an ordinary architect means you might end up in a big office doing batroom details for apartment developments.
Being a great architect would be good. I have some mates who are good architects with small practices - one of them is doing the new and contentious extension to the Sydney MCA.
But those guys spend way more time on contract administration than they do on design. It must drive them nuts.
I've often thought over the years that I would like to be an architect, but I reckon I would be a mediocre one. So instead, I use an architect when I do my PPOR renos. The design process and experimentation with materials fascinates me.
Scott
 
I dropped out to do computer science, and of course I now hold a long-standing obsession with houses. So I've been renovating old houses since my first in 1999, like to nosey into building sites, and would love to do some development once we have some more cash.

Architecture probably isn't the best thing to be doing until the kids are seriously more grown up and you can just slap a few $100 onto an assignment without blinking.


Ahhh, you sound like me. I have an obsession with renovating houses. Got to stop it. I walk into some ones house and start thinking about what they should change for the floor plan to work better, or look much better. I'll go out to a restaurant and be checking out the construction detail of something I like out of the corner of my eye, whilst trying to pay attention to hubbie (he hates that). I spend hours at Bunnings checking out materials......dont know why, I like to know how they work I suppose. I drive past old houses and dream about what it would take to make it a fantatic looking place...................ahh, unrealised dreams eh??

Geeze, this thread has got me in a seriously melancholy mood............sigh.

Hey Depreciator, just read you post, Im 44 now, my daughter is 4 in August (I was a late starter). Just dont know if it is too late to do in a few years time........... I have alot of thinking to do............................
 
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The number of times I kicked myself for thinking too much about the construction side of things and not doing a Sky hook design................................ My trouble was that my cousin is a Structural Engineer and was working on campus and I had access to her for clarification of construction issues.

Engineers tend to conservative and cautious. So if someone takes an out there idea to them, the first reaction of many is to say: 'Sorry, can't be done.'

But there are some engineers out there who love to make out there ideas happen. They love the challenge. They're the ones who deserve more credit than they get for amazing buildings. Back in the 1950s, there would have been lots of engineeres who looked at the design for the Sydney Opera House and said, 'Nope. Can't be done'. What they're saying is that with what we know now it can't be done. But someone said, 'They're must be a way we can do that. Let's give it a go.' They would have invented new technology to do it.
 
well too of my siblings are engineers (albeit a mecanical engineer and a medical engineer - the medical egineer has since gone on to become a graphic designer). I do have some talent with maths and science, myself. Not sure if I want to pursue this or not, just tossing the idea around at the moment. This sort of stuff is exactly what I want to know.

I have my commerce degree and my law degree, but don't particularly have any desire to work in either of those fields anymore. I have about 4/5yrs before I would consider going into the workforce fulltime (youngest is 10mths old), but have no problem studying.

Architecture is something I remember being interesting in in high school, but I was so certain that I wanted too become a lawyer I never thought to much about it. I am concerned it might be something I would love studying, but loathe in practice though (like law).
 
It is noteworthy to mention that the RAIA jealously guards the term Architect.
You CAN NOT call yourself an Architect unless you are registered with the RAIA as such. Anyone calling themselves or advertising as an Architect who is not registered can be proscecuted.

100% - they're really strict about it. However, it's because it used to be a "prestige" thing harping back to ye olde days. Doctors, Architects, Judges and Surveyors were the top of the business game. Anyone who was one was "somebody", anyone who wasn't sure as hell wasn't allowed to pretend they were.

You can do Architectural Technology at TAFE which I think takes 2 years full time, and if you do well enough you can get advanced standing at UNi.

If I had my time over again, that is what I would do as those guys from TAFE who then went on to uni were way way way ahead of us in Archicad skills, and construction understanding and when you are time poor and trying to get a project done, knowing a CAD programme well is a real godsend.

Oh, TAFE is alot cheaper than Uni too.

a very good point to bring up - it will give you A LOT of more practical background to start with, however it will then take 10-12 to become a registered architect - yay....:rolleyes:

But there are some engineers out there who love to make out there ideas happen. They love the challenge. They're the ones who deserve more credit than they get for amazing buildings. Back in the 1950s, there would have been lots of engineeres who looked at the design for the Sydney Opera House and said, 'Nope. Can't be done'. What they're saying is that with what we know now it can't be done. But someone said, 'They're must be a way we can do that. Let's give it a go.' They would have invented new technology to do it.

that's got more to do with the people you align yourself with - i guess you'd get this in any industry. if you have an "enthusiastic" design, then you'd seek out a "can do" engineer.

but the opera house is an incredible achievement - even by today's standards.
 
that's got more to do with the people you align yourself with - i guess you'd get this in any industry. if you have an "enthusiastic" design, then you'd seek out a "can do" engineer.

Of course.

I had an engineer at my place last year to specify some steel for my bathroom reno - must get back to that some day. He was one of the pricipals in a big firm and arrived in a very flash car. I've met him a few times over the years. I asked him why he did stuff for 'the boys' - our mutual architect friends. He said it's because the stuff they design makes him have to think and he enjoys the challenge. His charge out rate for their projects would be way below what he charges on commercial stuff.
 
I'm an architect and contract administrator. If you're qualified as architect you can administer the project you designed as a Contract Admin. That is, you become a independent and fair Valuer/Assessor/Certifier for the contract. The Client and Contractor has to let you manage the contract.

I agree, architecture school is a waste of time. The lecturers waste too much time on design and art theories. These academics think they are philosphers/artist, they try to be as weird as they can, and they will tell you "never compromise your design! Don't let your client make you change your design intention". No wonder these guys end up teaching in uni instead of running real practises. Believe it or not a Melbourne Uni design professor suggested to the Melbourne Council to run one of the streets in Dockland into the water, as a design statement! To give the impression that the city sank into the water?

But you need a degree and architecture experience to be registered as an Architect. Although probably registring as a Building Practitioner or getting a Builder License gives you the same kind of advantage too, if not more.

I dont see myself working as an architect in the long term. I will branch off doing some other business or development which is more exciting.
 
I'm an architect and contract administrator. If you're qualified as architect you can administer the project you designed as a Contract Admin. That is, you become a independent and fair Valuer/Assessor/Certifier for the contract. The Client and Contractor has to let you manage the contract.

actually, that's a seriously good upside that i've overlooked....:(
 
I agree, architecture school is a waste of time. The lecturers waste too much time on design and art theories. These academics think they are philosphers/artist, they try to be as weird as they can, and they will tell you "never compromise your design! Don't let your client make you change your design intention". No wonder these guys end up teaching in uni instead of running real practises.

Four of the achitects I know tutor at uni and run successful small practices. They don't try to be 'wierd', but they do try and do interesting stuff. They don't bully clients, but equally they don't work with clients who don't want to do interesting things. The most important thing for a client in working with an architect is to find one with similar aspirations.
 
Morning all,

I'm an architect as well and agree with just about all that has been said to this point.

I think that the 5 years full-time I spent at uni didn't necessarily teach me how to be an architect as such, rather it taught a specific way of thinking and approaching design problems.

The 12 years I have spent out 'in the real world' have really taught me how to be an architect, i.e. dealing with Clients, Engineers, Builders and, yes, bl00dy local councils!

Re: OP.
Yes, I do enjoy my job but it is never going to make me rich. I am definitely working for the satisfaction and enjoyment I receive from it rather than any monetary benefit.

Best thing about the job? When a Client is thrilled with a design idea or concept and then resolving that into a real building. And also when a completed building is being handed over, knowing that 'I designed that'. It is pretty cool.

Worst thing? Has to be the hours involved. Working in a small practice we tend to rack up the hours.

All in all, I really do enjoy my job and certainly am not one to dread walking into the office each day.


Best of luck with whatever you decide to do!
 
Working in a small architecture practice doing interesting jobs would be great. But yep, they never get rich. That's not why they do it. And the hours would be a killer.

These architecture threads always take me back. The first time we used an architect for a previous PPOR it was my wife's idea. It didn't occur to me. We talked to a few and settled on one - we liked the stuff he had done and he had a good sense of humour (which was important to me more than her).
The whole process fascinated me. I was amazed at how long he spent taking the brief. He asked us loads of questions right down to stuff like, 'Do you cook much? Mornings or evenings? What do you cook? Where do you like to eat? I felt like I was getting interrogated. Then he came and spent time in the house during the day. He had a set of keys and would bring some office work over and sit in the house to watch what the sun did during the day.
He came back with the design, and though there were some bits I wasn't sure of, I had already decided to surrender myself to his skill and experience. It took me years to do it, but it's still ones of the best things I've done. It always takes me back to look at it on the internet:

http://www.architecturemedia.com/aa/aaissue.php?issueid=199609&article=8&typeon=2
 
generally tutors are a milder bunch and have their own job outside uni, because full time lecturers are 100% academics employed full time by uni and give lectures, coordinate the subjects and set the course of the subject/project, while tutors only come in 3-4 hours a week to conduct a tutorial when they are less tied up with work.

And design tutorials are basically students presenting their work to the tutor to get some feedback. So the tutors generally would need to make sure they are heading to the same direction as the lecturer (ie, the guy who invited them to come to be tutors).
 
Oh, rugrat, one thing I missed:
You need to know what the work JUXTAPOSITION means and use it at every available opportunity when describing yours or someone elses architectural masterpiece!

Architects LOVE that word, unfortunately for the ones that use it, only other Architects seem to know what it means!:D
 
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