Message - Re: Is architecture a fun/rewarding career ?

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Posted by  Jim on August 28, 2003 at 10:12:13:

In Reply to:  Is architecture a fun/rewarding career ? posted by Ben on August 25, 2003 at 09:49:46:

Ben, its nice that you have been accepted into a university, and now you want to be inspired? I guess I should chalk it up to your youth and inexperience, but inspiration is something that you must obtain for yourself. Only through dilligent study of the real world (the world OUTSIDE of the classroom) will you find reality. Schools are businesses, and it is not in their interests to reflect the real world, but instead to foster an image made by academia to entice young ones to spend the major $$$$ needed to get a diploma which may have no practical worth. They may have "placement" assistance after graduation, but there is no guarantee that it will succeed for you or be the joy that you anticipate.

You want to be **CREATIVE** and that is a good thing IF you have a MAJOR creative drive in you. No, not the dillitante dalliance in some idle sketches, and amusing building tours. If that drive is really strong in you, then architecture will be one of the very few occupations where you can fulfill that creative urge. If that is your prime motivation, and NOT the desire to be rich or famous, then you may, MAY, find happiness in architecture.

To this end, however, you must also be REALISTIC in learning about the real world of average architects. The odds against you're becoming the next Frank Lloyd Wright or anyone nearly so famous, is scant indeed. I don't mean to berate your talent (I havn't seen anything here of your 'talent') but talent alone will get you almost nowhere. More and more every day, architecture is a BUSINESS, and if you are not good at business matters, it is highly unlikely that you will succeed without a good business partner. I wish I could say that becoming a popular (read: successful) architect is as easy as hanging out the "shingle" (name/profession sign) of a doctor or lawyer, yet even they can struggle for years! Yet thier clients MUST come to them for relief from some problem; your clients will come only if they have enough money to indulge themselves in the 'arts', though in fact, architecture TODAY is mostly engineering. You don't like the math and nature of engineering? Then you had better stear clear of architecture. True, VERY talented men can sometimes (rarely) find themselves hired as "Designers" by established firms, and paid to merely create concept sketches or renderings, while leaving the business and engineering aspects to others, but such situations are RARE. If you are content to design only single family homes, it is possible to stay small and have a modest income while not having to worry much about major engineering or business concerns, but the market for architects in that area is very small. The greatest creative outlet is in commercial or government designs, but these jobs almost always go to established firms that ALSO know the local and national political figures to 'suck up to', to put it bluntly. Being successful in commercial architecture also requires lots and lots of your time, such that you may seldom see your friends or family. It is an all-consuming career, if you are to be successful, and unsuccessful commercial architects usually don't last too long. Comptition will be fierce, and talent will be only a part of what you must have to be accepted by those with the BIG Bucks ($$$$) needed for such profits. In this mileau you will need a "team" of associates to manage the many aspects of big jobs, and you may find yourself shunted off to the side as accountants, lawyers, specifiers, and others take center stage; it will NOT be a "sole creator" experience. You must ask yourself if your creative urges are enough to put up with all these other distractions. Are they?

So, if you just want to be inspired without regard to reality, just read beautiful picture books on beautiful buildings. If you want to succeed in the practice of architecture, firstly determine if you are a good businessman with the shrewdness to know where the money is and how to get it and not have any morals about 'stabbing others in the back' to get what you want, because that is most assuredly what they will do to you whenever they can. In thie, Satan's world, the truly good guy always finishes last, since God promises blessings to the righteous only in His New World, shortly to come. If you aren't too good at engineering matters, you would be foolish to continue at the great expense and risk that such education entails these days. Be "inspired" Ben, but also be realistic with your "head out of the sand" so to speak. The days of Christopher Wren and even FLW are long gone; it is a world of giant multinational corporations today who 'eat' artistic types for lunch! If you have pride and integrity, you will never succeed in such a world, but you can use those good qualities to become a craftsman in some aspect of architecture, and, as the Bible says: "Behold a man skilled with his hands; before kings he will station himself." To become an artisan is also difficult, but it can often provide the artistic release and satisfaction --if not the money-- that architecture cannot. Best Wishes.

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