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How do you know if architecture is for you?

ieugenei

Right now, I'm trying to decide my undergrad major. And currently I'm trying to decide if architecture is the path to take. I'm planning to major in Art History (w/ concentrations on pre-architecture) which is the route to take for my M.Arch. I just wanted to ask (for last minute reasons before i officially declare the major) all the accomplished architects on the board, when and how you realized that architecture was definitely the route to take knowing the horrors and benefits of the career.

 
Dec 16, 04 4:42 am
graspin

Architecture is for nobody!
It produces angry, bitter, egomaniacal assholes! And I should know, I’m one of them.
We hate our 'job' every day (except for those rare days that we land a plumb project) and are there to tell anyone who'll listen about our struggles.
If it weren’t for the media portraying us as gods, we'd have nothing.
Unless you're dedicated to true design, reshaping the urban landscape and living the life of a pauper (or are independently wealthy), skip architecture school. Help people in other ways that won't make you as bitter as all of us.
I beg this of you!

Dec 16, 04 7:28 am  · 
2  · 
strangeronhorizon

So are you still on this field?

Mar 21, 20 9:50 am  · 
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ieugenei

wow, are you serious??

Dec 16, 04 7:38 am  · 
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graspin

Yes...I am.

I wish (and this is the truth) that after undergrad (and working in an office for almost 3 years) that I would have picked something else for grad school. Something more rewarding, whereby I could spend time with the girlfriend/friends without bitching. I used to be the sunniest guy...and architecture has actually sullied me. This is true for all of my grad school friends. We laugh about this.

Now, my other friends believe that I live the dream. And it's an amazing way to meet ladies...but it's not what I thought. basically, grad school taught me how to take a lot of shit from people who know less than you...and how to dress. lol. But in the field, we are thought of as the scum, we're losing our rights daily, and the 'professional' aspects of our work is being scaled back/stolen by other industries, rendering us useless.
Talk to people before you make this decision. Hey, I might be off here, so don't take my word as law. This is just the burden I’ll have to live with...and I’d hate for others to carry it as well.

Dec 16, 04 7:46 am  · 
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strangeronhorizon

True af, but i still doing this *sigh* and i dont know why *palmface* and hey add the hobby of complaining in it,voila, perfect picture

Mar 21, 20 9:56 am  · 
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ieugenei

i see. one question graspin, and im asking you this cause i think you'll answer very honestly. do you have time for living? the time you spend besides work. has your job taken over time? or do you still get enjoy time with friends and family, watch, and what not. is it as chaotic as they say? i think im the type that can take a lot of crap from people. who knows really but so far im still very interested.

Dec 16, 04 8:26 am  · 
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graspin

yes, i live the canadian/american dream. athletic (go to the gym/play hockey), i've had/have girlfriends and good friends. i go to shows and openings. i'm uber social with people. and i handle stress with thte best of them. however, other opportunities afforded by less stressful jobs would only highlight these things in my life. the cost to benifit ratio is skewed in architecture.
that said, you can make a good living...as many do. just realize that it takes ahold of your life. and that would be fine if i was being financially rewarded for it, but this is not the case. look at the salary postings, and listen to those people gripe. not a pretty picture. however, some do it for love...but those are the ones married to lawyers, doctors and investment bankers. or teachers. lol.

Dec 16, 04 8:45 am  · 
 ·  1
David Cuthbert

you won't have anytime...at least not for yourself (its all about the work)

You know if architecture is right for you when dreams about sex are replaced with dreams about architecture

so if not don't waste your or my time...chin up its not for everyone

Dec 16, 04 8:45 am  · 
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strangeronhorizon

Perfectly summarized....

Mar 21, 20 10:04 am  · 
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graspin

jam-arch has it right!!!!

problem is, i dream more about the laddies afforded me with the illusion of being 'mr. architect' than the actual work i produce.

the profession is all an illusion.

for instance: ever see indecent proposal? woody is an architect who uses the 1 million bucks demi got to build his dream home (as an architect). what they didn't tell you (in the directors cut) is that the contractor over-runs took most of his cash...he had to mortgage the rest to finish. and once he was done (and had to sell), he was sued because he didn't detial his flashing properly...lol

Dec 16, 04 8:50 am  · 
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A

graspin - how did you steal the words right out of my mouth?

Dec 16, 04 8:50 am  · 
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Here's my litmus test:
Cut yourself with an exacto knife. If you bleed modeling glue, you're golden.

All kidding aside, I think graspin has pretty much hit it right on the head. If you look around this site you'll find a lot of people that are bitter because they don't get to use the skills that they developed in school, and end up in a typical architecture job where design is just a word thrown around and money is the bottom line. The profession is no where as romantic as any non-architect thinks it is. For every high-profile designer you read about, there are hundreds/thousands of people producing boring, uninteresting work.

Dec 16, 04 8:53 am  · 
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graspin

to tell you all truthfully, i am an asshole. and i became this asshole after my MARCH. i don't like assholes...and i don't ever want to convert a nice kid into one.

however, i'm also a realist. i was the guy in architecture school that the students liked talking too (especially the younger year ones), but the proffs hated.
i kinda knew what the industry was about (but also knew that i had a tonn to learn myself)...and questioned what the flight of the red-bellied sparrow had to do with a concrete bathcing plant. IT'S JUST A FUCKING BATCHING PLANT BILL!!! ok, done with that peice of anger...lol.

Dec 16, 04 8:56 am  · 
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A

somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

Dec 16, 04 9:02 am  · 
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graspin

thats the thing: there is no 'right side of the bed' for architects. lol.

Dec 16, 04 9:05 am  · 
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ieugenei -

let me inject the one note of hope here. it's possible to have a wonderful, fulfilling life as an architect in which you feel that you are doing good work but it doesn't consume your whole life. that's where i am. after 13 yrs out in the world (post-school) i have never regretted my decision to pursue architecture.

graspin may be just in a bad phase...

Dec 16, 04 9:37 am  · 
1  ·  1
graspin

i'm betting mr. ward lives in a small town atmosphere, where he regularly enjoys taking the family to walmart on the weekends to show off his 'wonderful, fulfilling' work...lol

i'm not in a bad phase. i just have dozens of architectural friends that share my sentiment in the big city.

Dec 16, 04 9:56 am  · 
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A

I have some very good friends who don't really complain nearly as much as I do about their architecture jobs, place in life, etc. Then I look at what they do - big box retail (Best Buy, Costco, suburban strip malls..) and wonder how they aren't more bitter than I am. Then I realize that to them, architecture is just a job. 8am-5pm or a few extra here and there, a paycheck and that's it. They both agree that their work isn't going to win awards, contributes to the decay of our built environment, etc. But, they don't care as long as they keep getting paid and can live a somewhat standard suburban lifestyle. Sometimes I think I should just take the blue pill and just live life oblivious.

Dec 16, 04 10:13 am  · 
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monosierra

Very true. Everyone has an ambitious artist in their heart, I dare say, and while some do succeed in becoming just that by virtue of talent and happenstance - most do not. Many find satisfaction in life beyond work - families, hobbies, sports, and all that the world has to offer. Some do very well in their jobs too - as a professional service provider. The artist gives way to the professional. But some do harbor the dreams of an artist still but are either unable or incapable of realizing these dreams. Bitterness, borne out of disappointment and possibly a tinge of betrayal, creeps disease-like.

Aug 19, 20 7:33 pm  · 
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A

Or is it the red pill?

Dec 16, 04 10:14 am  · 
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J3

I think most of it has been covered here...specially the negative stuff! My suggestion is wonder aimlessly for a few years, try different things...jobs...etc. I think Jam-arch hit it right on the nail. I grew up in hanging out in my dad's office, loosing brain cells to the amonia from the blue print room, and getting high off the original "glass bottled" design markers. It took me 10 years to get my MArch, but I tried different career paths. From stock clerk with aspirations of management for big box, to sports management (managed Top Tennis tournament) sure they each had great things to offer...from free whip-its in the dairy cooler (whipped cream cans) to meeting celebities...common who out there can say they have spoken to Anna kournikova right after a practice (drenched in sweat...with see thru clothing!) At the end of the day I dreamed of Architecture! well except for this particular scene, which I will take with me to the grave.
sad...gay...what ever you want to call it. I love what I do. Sure I may not make 6figs, but it's not all about money.

Dec 16, 04 10:14 am  · 
1  ·  1
graspin

it's not about the money in the office...in 'the culture'. but when the wife decides she wants kids, or they need braces, or you need a bigger house, or you have to send the parents to the seniors home...then it's aout money. especially if someone loses his/her job due to recession or downsizing...or CAD work being sent to india for 6bucks and hour.
architecture just doesn't cut it.

Dec 16, 04 10:36 am  · 
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graspin loses his bet. i live in louisville which, despite the general asssumptions about kentucky, is a vital city with its share of urban conditions/environments, currently the 16th largest city in the US.

i own a house built in the 1890's in the first neighborhood outside of downtown, a walkable neighborhood where i can run my errands and visit my favorite corner bar. many of the city's hottest clubs are four blocks from the house.

i don't go to walmart, preferring the local businesses close to home. i work from home and most of my driving (in the hybrid civic that i love)is to job sites. this spring i will split time between my office and the univ.ky. storefront studio in downtown louisville where i'll be an instructor. my work on my own is primarily residential, though i occasionally partner with other designers on commercial work. in the office where i worked before going on my own i usually worked on churches, schools, banks, and residences - once a steamboat landing.

i am married, to a non-architect, and we're expecting our first in june.

i go out on a regular basis, primarily to see my friends' bands at local bars. one of my fellow arch friends is in a band that did a song which got some local airplay: "walmart took my baby", a hilarious knock on the suburban wasteland.

sorry for the bio, but graspin's wrong assumptions could mislead ieugenei into believing some damaging stereotypes. g, the miserable artiste role is tired. (and a breakup doesn't have to paint your whole world black.)

Dec 16, 04 10:40 am  · 
1  ·  1
kakacabeza

Architecture school teaches you to look at the world in a whole new light. And in most cases, ignorance is bliss. But do you want to live your life in ignorance? Architects get frustrated because they see the way things can be, and the way things are, and they realize that 90% of people really don't examine their life, their environment, etc. and don't care. Since the way architects look at the world is not appreciated by most people, they aren't well compensated.

But if you are an intelligent person anyway, no matter what profession you go into you are bound to become somewhat cynical. And not all architects are assholes. They just have opionions. I think salesmen, contractors, doctors, or anyone who bullies everyone around them just to make a few bucks in the world is much more of an asshole than architects.

Dec 16, 04 10:55 am  · 
3  · 

hear, hear, kakacabeza.

Dec 16, 04 10:57 am  · 
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kakacabeza

but do your research. i went the same route as you, history major undergrad while taking every architecture related class i could. my senior year, i worked part time for a year with a local architecture office doing drafting for $7 an hour. don't make the 3+ year commitment unless you are somewhat sure you understand what you are getting yourself into.

Dec 16, 04 11:00 am  · 
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graspin

mr. ward does his reasearch too (on me), i see. nice work.
no...i'm not bitter about anything. well, anything architecturally related. lol.
i'm just trying to help a young lad out with his descision. i wish i had this 'outlook' when i was deciding.

Dec 16, 04 11:23 am  · 
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abracadabra

listen to ward
don't take it hard
if you hear graspin
take 2 aspirin
says abra
from la habra.

gahahahaha.
go head become an architect.you can switch to poetry later on.

Dec 16, 04 12:12 pm  · 
2  · 

kakacabeza is right; it's always good to know what you're getting in to...but there's also no harm in flying blind a little as you enter school.

whether you eventually end up in architecture is less important than your ability to open up to the experience of the architectural educaiton. i remember that i resisted at first and i did poorly. after i learned to free myself up a bit, school was like a mind-expanding drug. what you can get from architecture school education - primarily the abilities to think critically and spatially - can serve you well in any future career.

Dec 16, 04 12:13 pm  · 
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R.A. Rudolph

I would also add that though Steven lives in a large city, I have a feeling the cost of living is a lot less compared to salary than somewhere like LA (where I am). My husband and I lucked out with the fact that we bought a teeny house before the latest insane rise in property values, but I know that most architects in theis city under 40 if not older would no longer fall into the category of being able to afford a house (25% affordability index in so.ca. right now). It is also difficult because we are surrounded by entertainment industry people who make outrageous amounts of money and we have to compare our hard work to theirs, and then deal with them bitching about how we are ripping them off by charging $40/hr for labor as a general contractor (no kidding). We are seriously considering moving somewhere less expensive and smaller - I think our quality of life would increase and the frustrations that come with the field would not be so depressing. On the other hand, we do have work and connections here and are somewhat stuck for the moment. I think I have chosen the right field, it seems to fit my personality, but I am also constantly depressed and frustrated by it. I long to work on projects that I like, that are well-detailed, and well-managed, and larger than the small residential projects we do. I just can't see who I could work for that would allow me to do that though, and so we are struggling on our own.

Dec 16, 04 12:54 pm  · 
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R.A. Rudolph

oh something else... I married an architect, now a contractor, and we run our company from our home. almost everyone we come in contact with has something to do with architecture. so it is our life, and we chose it, but that's probably part of what has me so frustrated. You have the ability to choose your own path, and you just have to know along the way that everything you do will affect you one way or another and try to think of the consequences. If I had it to do over, I might have chosen film school instead. But other than that, I'm happy with where I am now and sometimes can see the silver lining in all of this.

Dec 16, 04 1:03 pm  · 
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RAR's right about cost of living here. Probably what frees me from thinking too much about just making the $$$.

Dec 16, 04 2:08 pm  · 
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stephanie

maybe i am just young and sunny eyed, but....
i dont hate my job. and i don't hate architecture. and i don't really feel bitter, or that my work is pointless, i make enough $$ for my needs. i actually have a "real job" compared to my friends who were english majors, artists, or poly sci, i am done with school, had a master's at 22, worked my ass off, and felt like it meant something, at least to me.

i kind of blindly went into it in school straight from high school, and i didn't really know what i was getting into, and spent a lot of time wondering why i was doing it, or if i "had what it takes" for architecture...and i don't really know if i am really cut out for it. but i enjoy it, and i couldn't imagine myself doing anything else.

okay, i am done with the sap.

Dec 16, 04 3:02 pm  · 
1  · 
sure2016

I think Ive gotten a good education by studying architecture in undergrad. Would I be doing better had I studied business, accounting, law, etc.? Im not sure if I will stay in architecture forever, but noone says you have to. Im only 6monthes out of school, hate my job(who doesn't?) and couldn't imagine doing anything else.

Dec 16, 04 3:16 pm  · 
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Ms Beary

I love and hate my job both. Architecture is probably what you think it is, but the thing is, it is a whole lot of other things too - see above. These other things are sooo frustrating. Being an architect is quite a personality committment if you get my drift. There is hardly a night that I don't dream of architecture. Some nights are totally consumed by it. I can't do anything without thinking of architecture. Sure I do things with my friends and family, but I fee like I am possessed by the archtiecture devil that makes me use every second to further my understanding of architecture. Sometimes I think, what am I doing? I know better than to work so hard and take my work so personally and devote so much to the improvement of humanity. Why don't I open up the donut shop and cater to what people really want and get rich? Well, it's because sometimes being an architect is really great. It is hard to care so much about something that most people really don't give a shit about. You feel that everyday, it stiffles the passion. It makes me infuriated and exasperated. There are so many people out there with very undeveloped senses of spaces and architecture and as an architect, you are dealing with these people all the time. They are in the same field, but you are at odds with them. in medicine, doctors, nurses, patients are all on the "same side", they agree regarding the whole picture - sick people need to get better. Architects, owners, contractors, suppliers and the public all have thier own little opinion that each is entitled to. The architect has to work very hard (education, experience) to hold "the professional opinion" in the field, but it is still an "opinion" in other's eyes. This is frustrating. Architects are losing this respect. You may think the title architect gives you clout. Not necessarily. This sucks. People's view of architects may be great if you are asking your grandma "oh sonny, i'm so proud of my little architect". otherwise people think architects are selfish and ignorant. Because architects can't answer to everybody and cater to everyone's opinion. Again, this is why architects are great, because we form great opinions. Things could be any way in the world. Who decides how they are. You do. How do you decide this? You form an opinion.

Dec 16, 04 4:28 pm  · 
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Ms Beary

graspin - get a different job, eh?

Dec 16, 04 4:30 pm  · 
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graspin

oh, i'm working on it...
and i wont be the first licensed architect to never practice. lol

Dec 16, 04 4:39 pm  · 
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Ms Beary

yeh, someone on this site once said not too long ago "it's the lemmings that get licensed anyways"
i think that's funny (in a sick evil way). true though.

Dec 16, 04 5:14 pm  · 
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noguy

The best answer to this question is...if you need to ask, you don't want to do architecture

Dec 16, 04 5:23 pm  · 
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sameolddoctor

to the original poster:

you might want to go do a small internship at an architectural office, maybe just a month or 2-3 weeks and see what the whole thing is about.
Of course, its not a bit like school - you are going to be calling out specs etc for at least 6-8 years before you get to design something in which you have the freedom of doing something that equals, say your 3rd year undergrad project.
thats the way ive seen it.
But, at the same time, an architecture major opens up the possibilities of many other professions, from set design, to exhibition design etc. etc. And thats where i lucked out - although im not doing 'real achitecture' per se, i do get to design the look-and-feel of buildings and exhibitions and im pretty satisfied with that. - and yes it pays much better than architecture too.

I cannot imagine having done a major in graphic design etc and doing what im doing now - architecture, with all its horrors and misgivings does prepare you for a lot of different things.

and yes, i do get time (albeit very limited) to hang out with the ladies and friends, hit the gym, go to a party once in a while; but that is true for anyone who wants to be dedicated to their profession. The grass always seems greener on the other side. I have friends that did industrial design, media arts etc, but it took them an average of, get this 15 months to land a decent job, but with an architecture background it did not take me even 2 months.

Its all about expectations and what is your real purpose, in the end - but yes, i think that an architecture degree does open many doors down the road.

Dec 16, 04 6:13 pm  · 
 ·  1
ieugenei

wow such a good advice and views in the post. thanks. whatever you feel you need to say please do, i like having the insight bomb dropped on me.

like im definitely sure Architecture is what i want to study. i don't want to study business, med, or law. neither are the fields for me, maybe business considering the lucrativeness of the job, but design/function/innovation is what gets me with architecture. I don't know if i'll be working at a arch firm like most people, I have a feeling I might take a turn somewhere along the road and might be designing furniture or jumping into industrial design where ever my future degree will allow me to go in the world of design.

Dec 16, 04 6:33 pm  · 
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mauOne™

if the media portrayed us like gods i'd be a lil' happier

Dec 16, 04 6:35 pm  · 
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stephanie

ieugenei: don't lose those industrial design desires. i used to sculpt a lot in school as a release from architecture, but it all kind of piddled away when i was done, man, that is sad to realize.

Dec 16, 04 6:39 pm  · 
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ieugenei

so sameolddoctor, you're saying that getting a job is no problem, it's just sticking thru it yea?

Dec 16, 04 6:43 pm  · 
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sameolddoctor

yes and no
im saying that its (relatively) easier to get a job with an architecture degree, even if you want to go work for, say an exhibition/hybrid design company like me. Mainly because we can multitask and handle many aspects of the design business.

i was in your place back in '94, got an undergrd arch. degree and got masters in architecutre too. If i look back, I'd still have got the undergrad arch. degree but maybe masters in something else.

somehow im not that bitter nowadays !!!

Dec 16, 04 7:10 pm  · 
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ieugenei

i was thinking about double majoring in under grad art history and studio art (since a lot of the credits overlap in both majors) and march. whatever will enable me a more varied selection in design careers.

Dec 16, 04 7:19 pm  · 
 · 
o+

...please ieugenei , do what i wished i had done.
get a business degree first while you're considering architecture. you can take all the 'pre' architecture classes, art, arch, media,etc. that all arch students have to take the first 2 years anyways to 'test' the waters if you will. and a masters is only 2-3 years more after that if you still want to go architecture.
i did the 5 year b.arch+1.5 year masters and after a lot of time in the business, the 'business' is the last thing you end up learning (and on of the most important). a business degree gives you many more options not limited to just architecture. architecture students can get jobs in the architecture industry, business students get jobs in all industries.
but whatever you do, make sure you enjoy it. us architects are known for our sadistic work ethic, terrible hours, low pay,etc...but no matter how much we bitch, we really know there's nothing else we want to do.

but really, get the business degree first, thank me later.

Dec 17, 04 2:43 am  · 
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ieugenei

it's hard for me at this point. I'll probably graduate a year or so later. and believe it or not , the school of management is actually harder than getting accepted fresh out of high school due to the high rate of students who transfer from the liberal arts school (that i am in). the GPA at this point isn't feasible. I made some mistakes of course (slackin off and getting low grades for it) , but it's too late to look at mistakes in the past and i have to do what i can. I've worked at circuit city before although it's just a retail position, i can say that I don't make a great business man (vague comparison but i have that feeling). I also know that I'm happy in the artistic/innovative direction. I know that i'll be probably doing the same intern b!tch work as I would business in the first couple of years but I feel better knowing that one day i'll be able to do what i dream of. I do respect your advice o+ and i agree that a background in a field like business is the greatest back up plan and also assists well with the arch field as well. but i think i want to just to stick to one path and experience everything that branches out and to go head on. it's risky, but i feel that i don't want to settle for anything different just because of the lifestyle.. eh i dunno if i make sense, i may have thrown off my point, but hope you see what i mean. glad to hear a response back though.

Dec 17, 04 3:47 am  · 
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borax

I've heard it said that if you want to design go into a design (Interior, Graphic, Product, etc) field. Architects only spend on average something like 10-20% of their time designing. I get the impression (I am in a design field and not arch) that if you want to be an arch who designs, you need to forge your own path in the entrepreneurial sense as most who work for others just end up as cad bitches ....correct assumption or no?....one must be a realist - ieugenei sure you can just "jump into" industrial design, incredibly competitive with almost no jobs and all your credentials will mean nothing....are you a good designer, can you make yourself into one. not to discourage, be an optimist, be a dreamer and don't look back - just be prepared, you will have to fight for it. I think some of the bitterness here stems from early assumptions created in school of what and where a degree can get someone....want self actualization, you are truly on your own to make it happen. I think alot of people posting in this thread and on archinect would be happier if they learned to stop thinking of themselves as their job, and allowed for unexpected things outside of this comfort zone to happen in their lives ...seems so oppressive the outlook some here hold onto

Dec 19, 04 2:51 pm  · 
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kashishdewani

I'm a 2020 twelth passed(actually 91.4 %

Aug 19, 20 2:11 pm  · 
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kashishdewani

I'm a 2020 twelth passed(actually 91.4 %

Aug 19, 20 2:12 pm  · 
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apscoradiales

One way - one of many - is when you go on a vacation, and keep looking at buildings. 

Aug 19, 20 5:00 pm  · 
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Non Sequitur

dec 19 2004 to aug 19 2020. Record for longest zombie jesus thread resurrection?



Aug 19, 20 5:59 pm  · 
1  · 
atelier nobody

If you pay the architect's fee, then the architecture is for you.

Aug 19, 20 6:46 pm  · 
1  · 

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