Posted by Ralph on February 16, 2004 at 06:12:44:
In Reply to: Majoring in architecture...help posted by B on February 13, 2004 at 14:23:09:
Miami is a good school-- and NO architecture program is easy to get into, or easy to get out of [via graduation]! May be this will help--
1. What types of tools or programs does an architect use to design buildings?
Although a lot of the work is done by using computerized drafting [CAD for short] there is still a lot of hand sketching, on sketch and tracing paper in pencil, ink or with markers of various sizes and colors; and manual drafting used is used perhaps with parallel rule [a form of T-square], triangle etc.
2. How long does it take to finish a project or design that you are working on?
Usually a project will take several months from the inception to the finished documents [drawings and specifications]. If you include the construction time, the time period could easily be measured in years.
3. Do architects do a lot of drawing?
Yes! Much of the preliminary work is sketched/drawn prior to the CAD operations—it prepares rough ideas for drawings, which are the done in CAD. The drawings no matter how they are produced are a vital part of our work, and need to complement and supplement the specifications for complete communication about the project.
4. Do architects use a lot of math?
Not so much on a daily basis. Much of the math is used in college to understand the derivation of formulas for structural design, etc. Then, and if the architect continues to do some structural calculations, math would be used. In strictly architectural [not engineering] work the math is mainly dimensioning, adding, subtraction, multiplying, fractions, rations, and “money” calculation for cost estimates.
5. How do you think up ideas for your design on a building or house?
Every project begins with a process called “programming”. This is where you sit down with the client and find out all about the project—what is wanted, desired, needed; how relationships work; production schemes, etc. Can be quite complex. In a home you must find out “how” the family operates; how they entertain, hobbies, how they ready themselves each morning, storage needs, etc. After you have this information you begin to formula a scheme that provides everything in the program—which can be very difficult at times. You then call upon your design knowledge and principles [“learned work about how to design buildings using good principles, etc.] ”Gradually you develop a design concept or a scheme about the building and how if will look—then you merely [!!!] develop that into the final documents.
6. Are there guidelines for you when someone asks you to design a building, or can you do anything that you want?
Most clients have some ideas about their project, but mainly we are free to create different concept sand schemes and literally “educate” the client in what could be done. It is this “bringing forth” of ideas that is the primary function of the architect—solve the client’s problems and needs in an attractive manner! New homes are tough because there usually are myriad ideas, which don’t always fit together too well, and things are quite personal, so the challenge is a matter of personal choice—but still good design ideas are necessary. Also there are regulations, like building codes, that set forth some requirements on your designs, and they must be met in addition to the client’s demands.
1. What skills do you need to become a successful architect?
Manual drafting, CAD, math, English, public speaking [to talk in front of groups], design, understanding of other disciplines involved, business practices,
2. How many years of studying does it take? What do you study?
Each collegiate school of architecture has its own sequence—from 4 to perhaps 7-8 years. For a bachelor degree, about 4-5 years [some schools have cooperative education where you alternate school and work; that takes 6 years]. A Master degree takes another 2-3 years beyond the Bachelor’s
3. Do you work independently on projects, or do you work as a team?
Almost always in a team, of varying size, matched to the size of the project. Projects, except for the very smallest [many young architects will design homes by moon lighting work], are too complex and require fast production, to be done by one person. Also, you need the expertise of others to produce a project.
4. About how many projects a year does an architect have?
Depends on the office, the number of projects in the office, and the complexity of the projects. I know of one fellow who “juggled” 17 projects at once, but they were all small in size, and done in disconnected sequences [not all of them ran at the very same time]. Also it depends on your experience and your position in the office. A person who has a professional registration [i.e., is licensed to practice by the state—a requirement!] May oversee or have control over perhaps 4-5 projects at a time, with people assigned to him to achieve different tasks.
5. What is the average architect paid per year?
Have to dodge this a little bit—depends on the size of the office [larger usually pay more and give better benefits], the area of country [higher on east and west coasts], and level of experience of the person. Overall I would thin this is from $20-25,000 up to $100,000 for office Associate and Junior Partners. Many offices also have bonuses and profit sharing, which adds income over and about salary.
6. Do architects do a lot of traveling?
Depends on what is required. A regional or national practice [projects located over a large number of states or nationwide] will travel more than an office in a smaller region or local practice. Our office, now, travels continually to California, Utah, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, throughout Ohio [we are located in Cincinnati]. We have national clients with plants across the country, so we go where the work is required.
7. What college or high school courses would you recommend for me if I want to become an architect?
All the math you can get [to get through the college math requirements], English, public speaking, MANUAL drafting, computer operations [drawing and word processing at a minimum], science, chemistry, physics, and generally a good solid college prep curriculum
8. What made you want to become an architect?
Oddly enough I can’t really tell you. A friend of mine decided to take “mechanical drawing” in high school, and since I had some open time, I did too. Loved it, from the git-go, and also took architectural drawing as a 5-day a week class, and also as a 2-day a week class. By that time I was “really into” house plans—not whole houses just the plan layout of rooms, etc. But that all took root, and I must say, I guess the Good Lord had it scoped out for me, because I just turned 40 years in the profession and have had a great time!!!! And I still look forward to working each new day.
I might add that some architects have dads or uncles who guide them into the profession, and some folks seem to have the drive from an early age based on various stimulations, or inspirations.
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