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I am a 8th grade student doing their Exhibition project on the career of an architect. Architecture has intrigued me for quite a while. I would very much so appreciate if someone could describe the course of architectural theory as well as building design. And if someone could tell me of other courses required to gain a B.Arch, M.Arch, or D.Arch to gain a license. Thank you.
The break-down will vary by school, and even by program within the same school. One thing that seems uniform however, is the emphasis on "studio" (Sometimes called architecture studio or design studio in a course catalog). Generally this studio will be worth twice the credit hours of your typical seminar or lecture (6-7 in my case), but will comprise anywhere from 80-100% of a students academic and social life. This time emphasis will of course extend beyond regular hours, often spanning multiple days without pause. Knowing this, professors often integrate ideas or projects which focus on particular areas of knowledge that is essential to becoming an architect. Things such as ADA compliance, or situating a project within a certain theoretical context, might become requirements of the studio project or projects. Some studio's will have a single project spanning the entire semester, others will have several shorter projects (I've seen a few that spanned multiple semesters, too, though a little less common)
Other classes that seem rather uniform across schools, include structures, environmental controls (HVAC, lighting, sound, etc.), architectural history, construction technology, performance programming, professional practice. I'm sure that I'm forgetting something, which only reinforces the idea that very little mattered outside of studio.
After earning one of these degrees, and depending on a particular states requirements, the next steps will include the Intern Development Program (IDP for short) and the Architect Registration Examination (ARE). You can learn more about these at ncarb.org, but essentially it is 5600 hours of internship credit, broken up in a variety of different tasks, and a 7 part test, each part being taken separately, lasting several hours. Each individual part expires after 5 years, so if they are not taken within a certain window of time, passed tests will need to be re-taken. failed tests can only be retaken every 6 months.
The bullet points are pretty standard and easy to dig up. Many schools will show a sample of courses that need to be taken. the NCARB site has a section on "becoming an architect." I think understanding the brevity of studio is something that requires insight beyond the standard web research though.
Joseph said it all.
The course of architectural theory and building design will depend on where you go to school, what you are taught, and what YOU choose to absorb and how you choose to express yourself.
It's impressive that you are asking these questions. By merging research and people's answers, I think you will get a pretty good handle on what the field is about.
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