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What tilted you toward architecture as a course of study/career?

Mar 2 '13 26 Last Comment
observant
Mar 2, 13 5:00 pm

What interested you in architecture?  Again, everyone has a story.

For me, it was industrial design pertaining to transportation (cars - especially dashboards, ships, and aircraft).  I drew them constantly. In terms of buildings, I was bowled over by great movie houses, both older and newer, homes, and enclosed malls, not so much for the quality of the architecture, but for the commingling of functions and identifiable nodes (atria, etc.)

In a vocational test given in middle school, I scored highest on arch. and civ. eng.  I wasn't particularly inspired in high school, but still did well, and took the "go home after lunch" option senior year.  That meant I reneged on 4th year math and physics, and then felt I would be unprepared for architecture.  I had to pick an easier major, and February of senior year of HS I'm sitting there thinking "WTF am I going to major in?"  Well, for round one, it wasn't architecture.

 

Josh MingsJosh Mings
Mar 2, 13 9:05 pm

I've always had a penchant for the creative and analytical sides of things, and I grew up in Columbus, Indiana. I don't think I had a choice.

observant
Mar 2, 13 9:13 pm

^

Haha.  I see.  What a compendium of buildings!  Pluses:  the city hall with the opposing cantilevered "beams" (*) and the heavily glazed Cummins office building.  Minuses:  that Protestant church with the really tall needle.  There are others, but those are the ones that come to mind.  It was one hell of a hot and humid summer day.

http://indianapublicmedia.org/news/files/2012/04/columbuscityhall.jpg

Miles JaffeMiles Jaffe
Mar 2, 13 10:41 pm

Fate. And genetics.

sameolddoctor
Mar 3, 13 1:09 am

Because I liked getting screwed without being kissed.

Oh no, wait, that was my inside voice. My outside voice says that I was interested in engineering (rational), because of my dad but also had artistic (non rational) proclivities. Hence Architecture.

stone
Mar 3, 13 7:25 am

... the prospect of great power, the respect of my fellow man, and huge earnings potential ...

b3tadine[sutures]
Mar 3, 13 9:37 am

please, no more lego stories, please, god. my path towards architecture stems from this little television show in the 70s, perhaps you've heard of it, Brady Bunch? seriously though, i was in a serious bike accident as a 10 year old, pedal gutted me, and i came pretty close to dying. after that sordid incident, my scout troop was visiting an architects office, and i fell in love with the drawings. so, accidents and incidents, well, that and my shear lunacy, is what drove me to this life.

marisco
Mar 3, 13 9:38 am

For me, two paths diverged in a wood, and I took the one I was accepted for... I use to draw floor plans as a kid, went to high school, graduated and worked in the real world at a retail job selling electronic components. Found out that electronics engineering kids were to dumb and were getting me to do their work for them, so I ruled out ever doing that. Got offered manager with my own store after 3 years working there and decided I didn't want to cap out at that so I decided to go to university. Then at university I wanted to be a doctor, you know to be helpful to people, bio and chem didn't like me as much. So I changed my major to urban studies and learned all about planning, cities, some law, and politics. Decided that I liked law and architecture both, applied for law (yes i wrote the LSAT, fun test it was) and architectural technologies. Got into architectural technologies, passed with 4.0 so I thought hey maybe I'm good at this architecture thing, the tech side least wise. But I still wanted to tie in my urban studies so I applied for three programs, first choice urban design, second architecture and backup teaching (I had found through my courses that I enjoyed teaching and thought I'd toss my hat in that ring too as it were). So the university I applied to (university of Calgary) dropped urban design right after I applied, and I didn't get into architecture right away (wait listed) but I did get into teaching. I was all set to start learning to be a teacher and then I got the call that they had a spot for my in the mast of architecture program, so like any sensible person I dropped teaching and went into architecture, three years later I graduated with my M. Arch and haven't got an internship yet. I have my own company but really, I'd like some experience at a firm, it's only been two years since then. Some days I think I should have stayed in teaching.

observant
Mar 3, 13 11:02 am

I was all set to start learning to be a teacher and then I got the call that they had a spot for my in the mast of architecture program, so like any sensible person I dropped teaching and went into architecture, three years later I graduated with my M. Arch and haven't got an internship yet. I have my own company but really, I'd like some experience at a firm, it's only been two years since then. Some days I think I should have stayed in teaching.

Calgary is neat; nicer than Edmonton.  I spent a Christmas there .... brrrr as one waits for the light rail on a cold winter night.  Good M.Arch.?  Did you enjoy the program?

As for the teaching, it's funny you mention that.  The first firm I worked for was an "alumni club" of ONE school, which is likely to make for a crappy experience, with a few of us "exceptions." A laid-back friendly guy, an "outsider" and a UMich grad, would ask me to go to lunch.  He told me he'd be leaving in two weeks, to return to school to do teacher certification, which is what both of his parents did in the Midwest.  He had a BSAS from UMich, though, and not a masters.  It was too bad, because he was the person there I liked the most, and he was leaving shortly after I had started. 

t a m m u z
Mar 3, 13 12:10 pm

i was born tilted; most others stood straight and i almost toppled over.

observant
Mar 3, 13 1:01 pm

i was born tilted

If that means being a nonconformist, then I was born tilted as well.

vado retro
Mar 3, 13 3:29 pm

You could have worked for Cummins, Josh.

observant
Mar 3, 13 3:33 pm

You could have worked for Cummins, Josh.

I'm not Josh, but I have friends who worked there in mucky-muck jobs and it sounded stiff.

Jadzia
Mar 3, 13 4:23 pm

In a vocational test given in middle school, I scored highest on arch. and civ. eng.

Is that common practice? At such an early age with this kind of differentiated results I mean.

vado retro
Mar 3, 13 5:08 pm

I knew Josh. Josh was a friend of mine. Observant, you're no Josh.

MyDream
Mar 3, 13 5:23 pm

For me I had a rough start, I was very bad in grade school and had no wants to be anything. When I was 16 I had a dream that I was a construction worker digging in this large canyon with lots of other workers. After that dream I always wanted to become a construction worker as I hung out with the party crowd it just stayed with me and I told everyone.       As I grew older architecture just emerged, Frank Lloyd wright and Paul revere Williams were the first architects I learned about the profession from YouTube. Years went by and I just became more and more determined to become an architect finally I made it to college in 09, I'm on my  last semester in a associate's degree. I got a HUGE break with a new architecture program  in Orlando starting with a associate of arts in architecture at a community college and ending with a master's in architecture from UF all located in Orlando! I'm dying to start the first two years at Valencia.                               

observant
Mar 3, 13 5:26 pm

Observant, you're no Josh.

Right.  I'm happy being who I am.

Josh MingsJosh Mings
Mar 3, 13 5:30 pm

Oddly enough, my friends who work/have worked for Cummins have the same complaints. This profession has been in my blood since I was little. I love what I do, even if I'm not doing a lot of design work right now. I'm amazed at how many people are so negative about the profession.

One good thing about moving to Chicago from New Orleans is that people actually know about Columbus here. My assigned thesis advisor had never heard of the city. 

vado retro
Mar 3, 13 9:11 pm

without the stiffness of Cummins, there'd be no Columbus worth visiting.

Josh MingsJosh Mings
Mar 3, 13 9:32 pm

Yes and no. While Cummins is definitely responsible for the economic impetus that enabled the designs to be built in the city, it was ultimately Miller's vision and relationship with Eero Saarinen that started Columbus on the path to where it is today. I would venture to say without Miller in the leadership position, Columbus would not be where it is today with Cummins alone. I would posit that the development of the past 10 years (outside of perhaps Ralph Johnson's Central Middle School and Rawn's Mill Race Center) show precisely this. The new work in the city simply does not hold a candle to, nor respects the heritage and vision of, the work that came before it. 

Will Miller's essay in Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future is wonderful in how it explores the relationship between Miller and Saarinen, and how Columbus came to be. I feel these words by J. Irwin Miller are particularly good to live by (his interpretation of Tacitus' definition of patriotism): "A good life is one led in praiseworthy competition with one's ancestors. The best response to the gifts we receive from previous generations is to create something of lasting value in our own time and in our own way for future generations."

I do hope to be able to build in my hometown at some point in my career. My thesis definitely benefitted from this desire, and I hope this becomes a reality.

vado retro
Mar 3, 13 10:37 pm

By Cummins I meant Miller.

observant
Mar 3, 13 10:41 pm

Josh, the people who complained were 2 or 3 suits I knew who worked there.  They have moved on, which was necessary, since Cummins is the big dog in town.

observant
Mar 4, 13 3:53 pm

I'm amazed at how many people are so negative about the profession.

Josh, the reasons people are negative is not architecture, but the milieu.  In school, I was NEVER stressed out, just busy 24/7.  At work, I generally DON'T watch the clock. (Right now, a lot of places are on reduced billing, allowing no more than 30 to 32 hrs. on the weekly time sheet, and that's NOT fun).

The negatives are things like:

- having some/most of your preferred schools tell you that you "can't be an architect," when practitioners look at your portfolio and tell you that you most certainly can be, and then you go off to school and finish with the highest tier of honors

- bringing that degree "back home" and finding an "alumni club" situation in offices (seen that a couple of times) ... this is "somewhat" tolerable if you do land work, and your work is recognized.

- seeing the billing rates for everybody when you are checking on a project and seeing that there is a "marriage pay premium," for the same work, which you can then deduce once you are able to "back into" the billing multiplier  ... this is never tolerable, and a person's mind goes into "seek the next job" mode.

- working for a blended A/E firm which looks professional from the interview and the tour, and then learning that there has been an entrenched culture of engineers hating the architects, but that "it isn't as bad as it used to be."  Nice ...

Usually, people who leave the profession have a string of events like this under their belt, and they've had enough.  These people are often decent in school and decent at work, but sometimes they weigh the situation, and want out.

I think architects need to be in studios with planners, interior designers, and even landscape architects.  Only those professions have predominately creative minds.  As for engineers and contractors, it's better to have them in ANOTHER office, under ANOTHER roof, and "cross your t's and dot your i's"  with them, and stand your ground when appropriate.

Miles JaffeMiles Jaffe
Mar 4, 13 4:10 pm

"Only those professions have predominately creative minds."

Time for a larger world view.

observant
Mar 4, 13 5:20 pm

Time for a larger world view.

In environmental design, that is.  I should have clarified that.  It's not ubiquitous, but every architect has seen the "copping of attitude' from engineers and/or contractors somewhere along the line.

As for creative professions, there are many:  writers, media types, teachers, fine artists, artisans, and then, in some ways, attorneys who come up with a novel precedent to snag a case.  Those are only a few examples.

What I meant from the above is that those are the disciplines with whom an architect might have easier dialogue and less built-in tension, like "change orders."

Lionel Hutz
Mar 4, 13 6:52 pm

Well, there was this really sweet looking chick enrolled in the arch program ...

observant
Mar 4, 13 8:13 pm

Well, there was this really sweet looking chick enrolled in the arch program ...

That sounds like ONE.  We had ONE too, who was of Slavic parents, looked exotic, and was already "promised," minus the engagement ring, to a Slavic guy in the city she came from.

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