What to do to continue in the architecture field?


Hello there,

When I was in school I was the most successful student in all subjects whatever humaties or sciences. However in architecture school, I suffered a lot from a lack of creativity & artistic sense in design. Now, after years of study, Iam still incapable of manibulating elements & principles of design, whatever 2d or 3d. As for other subjects in the program, I excelled with ease in art & arch history, human factors, social factors. In the other hand, I did moderately good in production & working drawing, materials studies, & building construction, but with great difficulty.

Almost all the professors who taught me in the studios hate me because of my performance. I have few years of work experience, where my managers complained about the quality of my designs.

I can create beautiful designs. However, not creative nor new ones. & it takes me several days to create any design. The same goes for planing buildings. It is hard for me to create good plans from the start. It takes me a lot of time. I understand that the design process takes time, however the thing is that my intial designs are not good or professional at all, & my final designs are not creative nor new. 

After these years in the field, I am totally immersed in & love it. However, I feel that I became stubid. Because of what I feel as complete failure in reaching competency in the field. I know that in every field, every one begins as a beginner. But, at the same time I feel either that I dont have the innate abilities to be an architect or this is just because I couldnt comprehend the architectural theories or design theories. 

I think that after finishing my studies, it time to take a proactive role in my family & supporting. Not overloading them with another studies. But, if I continue working in the field with my current situation, I will never success & I will never be able to support them. 

I dont know exactly what can I do to master 2d & 3d design. Maybe you could tell me?

There is an architecture bachelor in Canada/ from RAIC where students can study while working as intern in real projects in real work environment under the supervision of A much experienced architect. I am wondering if going through this different education system will help me master the field. Or should I just study another field that I dont know which yet? 

For me this is a situation where I am choosing between working on alive design skills & knoweldge which are moderate & incompetent. Or almost-died-skills ( that I dont know what to label) from studying mathematics, sciences & humanities in school successfully.

but something important to say, is that almost all post-bachelor studies reqiure recommandation letters & I might not be able to get ones because of my academic performance.

Because of my inadecaucy in the architecture field until now, I lost my confiendce & now I am afraid that whatever road I take in life, I would be incapable & fail.

Dec 29, 16 10:39 am

Unfortunately, to become a good designer takes time. I was felt I had no design skills. I had to learn for my bosses, workmates,  etc.  I felt I had good eye for design so I kept at it.

School only helps you understand the concepts. Architecture requires real world practice. Your understanding of how things are put together is were school may lack in educating.  I started in construction in 1980 right out of High school.  At that time I had no thought to become an architect. I went to a technical college to be a draftsman since I like to draw. A couple of years of drafting jobs I decided to go back to school to study architecture. It was a long process and there were times I second guessed my decision to continue.  I stuck it out. Although, I never considered myself a great designer I finished in the top 3 of my class. From there while working in several small  architectural offices I learned how to design for the real world.  Gaining knowledge on how all things related to architecture were assembled.   18 years of that and I decided to go out on my own in 2003.  So now I work solo and business is non stop.  Without those years of development I probably would no be on my  own.  I should also point out that architecture is not just about creativity.  It also about fulfilling a need or solving a problem. Which may not be as glamorous but it will keep you employed.  If all you what to do is create cutting edge design and nothing else I believe you still need to go thru the process.

Dec 29, 16 11:14 am

Thank you very much, Pia555. I like your comment. I understand that in any field someone has to be a beginner first. But, working in architecture, I feel that I am for some reason incompetent. The problem is I dont know what to do to be succeful. Thats why I thought of going back to school again. But, reading your comment I am starting to see things from different perspective. I have few questions about your comment please:

What are things  pointed out in this sentence, that are to be put together? do you speak about elements & principles of design, or something else?

"Your understanding of how things are put together is were school may lack in educating"

This sentence reminds of a discussion I followed in Facebook about the effort to acheiving realism in architectural visualizations. Many said that it doesnt matter the realism but instead how the design is going to be constructed. Someone said that Construction-how to first, aesthtitics second, & realism third.

The work I mostly do in office is visualization. So, I spend great time designing. At the end of design, I draw all its Cad related documents. I am trying to be updated with construction & site work information, but, as I said before, Iam having hardship in studying them. I hardly remeber the information I learn about materials & construction. Can you tell me effective way to learn & memorize them, please?

You said:

"From there while working in several small  architectural offices I learned how to design for the real world.  Gaining knowledge on how all things related to architecture were assembled"

I am already working in small offices. But, I couldnt develop my confidence in design. They give me design work & I keep designing & redesigning until I reach a design that the manager & client like. I feel that I need to do something to be more succeful. But, I dont know what. What I understand until now from your comment is that going through many design projects experiences in the professional arena, would give me the oppurtunity to master architecture. Am I right? if so, can you tell me please how many years approximately would I need to reach a good level of competence? Also, How Can I go through them with grace? you mentioned 18 years, does that mean I would remain a beginner until then? How can I measure my development alog these years? Also, in architecture field there would be always a project to deal with that I have no experience in, would the many years in doing other project would be enough for me to handle any project?

Finally, just to make sure:

"I should also point out that architecture is not just about creativity.  It also about fulfilling a need or solving a problem" Do you mean by this solving the problems raised by client brief, project's site....? I can do this, but I can create something new. I usually design according to existing architectural style element & I am desperete about this

Sorry for making it too long

Dec 29, 16 2:01 pm

Just don't work on your own/do everything by yourself all the time but work under someone who guides/directs you while hoping that sooner or later you will pick up some things here or there. That's how most people get used to "architect" professionally I guess, remember it's a team sport.

Dec 29, 16 3:47 pm

As previously stated, u have to crawl before you can walk! how can you be a great designer without design pallet's? besides, this field rewards those who are not afraid to fail by taking on new challenges,  asking for more responsibility, being a go getter, adding value beyond client and employer expectation

Dec 29, 16 3:48 pm

ha, many times sum of my colleagues scoff when I say i work 10-14hrs a day, yes I punch da clock between 8-5 but an hour before work and 2-3hrs after work most days im exposing my self to things beyond the office so I can add value to myself.

• vist job sites on your own, ask someone on site first if its ok, look around like its a crime scene

• look through design catalogues, scan and keep stuff you like

• enter a design competition

• pletny of youtube videos from design to construction to 3-d rendering to hand drawing to old videos of wright discussing philosophy

• join pintrest

• study cd's in your office of projects you liked.

• get on google earth and go to buildings you wish you could tour in person

• ask yourself why? why is a nail on a thumb? and also is there a rule saying i cant do it?

Dec 29, 16 4:09 pm
Non Sequitur
The RAIC syllabus in Canada is not a degree. It is an alternate be to traditional university (bachelor + masters) path. It takes students with any post secondary education (mostly college techs) and, through self study and some studio supervision, they become eligible to write the exams after 7 or so years. The last 5 of those years are usually spent working in an office claiming internship experience hours.

Not sure if this applies to you but it's only usefull of you intend on living and working in Canada. Also, the program's takes in virtually anyone of the street willing to pay their membership fees but only the best, most business minded designers make it out as architects in this syllabus.

Hope this helps.
Dec 29, 16 7:48 pm

Have you actually worked in a firm?  Might want to go work a little first.  Having an 'artistic sense in design and creativity' is probably the least of concerns unless you want to be the next Zaha or Frank Gehry xD Don't lose sleep trying to be creative.  You just might be disappointed again and start questioning yourself when you start working in a real job and are asked to arrange washroom tiles or work on schedules. lol

Dec 29, 16 11:10 pm

I agree with the above sentiments that you have to work to be good at it. And frankly a lot of people who do this for a living are still not that good at it. 

However, I think it's a real uphill battle for some people, so if you are exceptional at other things maybe it's time to rethink what you want to do with your life before you get too deep down the road.  

Dec 29, 16 11:23 pm

Thank you all of you. I appreciate your comments

Accesskb, I actually worked as a visualiser mainly. My work schedule is designing a certain project in a maximum 3 month period. Meanwhile, there are many clients visits to give his opinions so it would be to his approval by the end. After this period, I add all the elements of my designs as plans, sections & elevation by cad, & create material list. Sometimes, Iam reqiured to work in many projects stimantulesly.

You can see, I almost spend all of my time designing. I design well, except the trouble I described of creating something creative.

Dec 30, 16 4:57 am

Non Sequitur, I do like the course idea because of the professional architect mentorship & studying in a real work environment. I understand that all subjects are self study except the studio. But, do you know something about the curriculum itself? How they teach (whatever by course material or through supervision) someone to create designs? or do they focus on something else?

Dec 30, 16 5:13 am

Maybe, to take some pressure off, just let go of this idea that they are your personal designs, "my designs", and see them as the production of the studio you work at, "our designs", it might help you with killing those darlings and move your designs forward.

Dec 30, 16 5:23 am
Non Sequitur
Noran, the RAIC syllabus is like a stretched out 4-year bachelors over 7 to 10 years. Surely you can google their course list but like I said earlier, the intent of the program is to allow students, who cannot do a masters degree, to take the Canadian exams.

You still need to find real employment while participating in the syllabus. Perhaps, like everyone else here has mentioned, you should try working in a real office producing permit & construction drawings.
Dec 30, 16 5:38 am

Now my understanding is clearer about the RAIC course. I also agree with all of your comments & can see where it comes from. I will start from there reconsidering my professional development's direction & atitude.

Thanks, randomised, non sequitur & all of you.

Dec 30, 16 5:57 am

 I said along time ago I would never come here again, but it seems I told a lie. Reading this comment on the forum makes me think about my inabilities and how hard I am working to become an architect and the long journey it is having on me. I have yet to be successful in any sense in this profession as of yet, but I do have skills, a large array of skills from rendering to making complete sets of residential drawings. To this day I have not found any work from any builders or clients other than my own mother, which is coming along nicely even after all these years of the project bring brought back to life over and over.

  I am really working as hard as I can without compensation or anything else hearing the words " As previously stated, u have to crawl before you can walk! how can you be a great designer without design pallet's? besides, this field rewards those who are not afraid to fail by taking on new challenges,  asking for more responsibility, being a go getter, adding value beyond client and employer expectation" Hearing that from the above comment brings a soothing feeling to a completely broken soul also I spoke with an Professional engineer who looked at my plans and renderings and told me,

  "What you’ve got put together there looks fine. You should have no troubles. 

Are you volunteering with Habitat from a design & plans standpoint, or from a construction/labor standpoint? That is good either way, but that is one thing I see lacking in a lot of designers architects and engineers, for that matter: insufficient experience with how things actually go together in the real world. It’s always good to get your hands dirty. It keeps you grounded in reality. You don’t have to be an expert in everything, but you should be knowledgeable enough about everyone else’s fields that you can discuss options and problems with them intelligently. 


It’s also good that you are working in Revit & SketchUp. Never tried Revit, myself. No budget for it. I have interfaced successfully with Revit users using SketchUp models. We did that on the Disney Fantasyland expansion a few years back. It was not a perfect interface, but it got the job done.


How are your hand drafting skills? Useful for making quick sketches for clients, but also useful for double checking CAD. It is easy to draw something that looks great but is nevertheless wrong in CAD. Many things (roofs!) are easier to solve graphically than mathematically. And if you’re solving it graphically in CAD, then you really haven’t lost any measurable precision like you would have on paper. 


If we did more residential, it might make more sense to use an architecturally specific program like SoftPlan, Chief Architect, or the architectural desktop for AutoCAD. Since we are an engineering firm, we get a lot of non-residential projects, and a lot of just plain weird stuff. I have an old version of SoftPlan which I still roll out on occasion, but I have seen too many mistakes made by those programs to invest any more money in them, that you have to go in and fix manually (if you can), and it’s not a high enough proportion of what we do to be worthwhile. Therefore, we take the slower approach of essentially hand-drafting on the computer. I know every line is there and correct, because I put it there. An exception to this is when we need renderings or it is useful to do a 3d detail to show something, in which case we roll out SketchUp and export to AutoCAD where all of our drafting ends up. Commercial structures and oddball existing residential conditions are not standard enough to work well with programs that are going to think too much for you. That has been our experience anyway. Yours will likely be far more residentially-oriented, so those programs will work a lot better for you. 


My designer says to make sure you study the fine arts, history of design, historical architectural styles in their proper context and art history. There is a lot of really bad design going on in Florida right now, and a lot of disrespectful renovation to existing historical properties. Please don’t be a party to that. Have you been through downtown Eustis lately? There have been a couple of new buildings built in the last few years that were I’m sure intended to be modern updates on the traditional styles of all of the surrounding existing downtown buildings from the 1920s. It’s bad. Very bad.


Anyway, not sure what else I can tell you. If what you are telling me is true about the myriad ways you are working to learn and improve, then you are already lightyears ahead of most of the people out there who call themselves designers. We certainly are firm believers in the powers of self-education here. Im really not qualified to judge your actual design or artistic merit, but if you have a thorough understanding about what all you have shown on your sample plans, then you are at least in good shape from a technical and plan creation standpoint. 


I’ll be happy to work with you when you’ve got a project in the works."


  This is a private email that he sent me and I will not say his name because I will not put him out there like that. aren't the only one suffering or having a hard time be happy that you are in architecture school I am fighting like hell just to get in because of past credits and a lack of funds.

Jan 11, 17 5:26 am

^Hey, at least your mom loves you.

Jan 11, 17 9:49 am

Where's the TL;DR?

Jan 11, 17 10:46 am

(there is there)

LOL! my mom loves me. At some point I am going to need more than a mother's love when rent is a necessity. I am gathering information and preparing myself to go out on my own and I have not been marketing because of it. I am creating stock plans, interior decoration projects, and architectural visualization projects all fictional, but are done in precise dimensions and design skill , every project that I am working on is done to the absolute level and can be built. I can show you a portfolio. 

 I want to charge .65 cents a square foot for stock plans sold as is, changes will be needed once a engineer gets it, but I will do this for free along with other changes, as long as it is not to excessive. Residential Interior decoration projects at about 500-600 a piece for kitchen, bath, bedroom, you name it projects: design(with the help of renderings and animations), pricing sheet, and management, a lot for just 500-600 bucks. Building design for a client who needs full design service I will charge 5% of construction cost(what do you think I should charge?). This will include schematic design, design development, construction documents, procurement, and contract administration. I will also write specs using uniformat and progressing into master format, which sets up the estimation process. The software that I use will also assist me in providing as accurate as I can get estimate to competitively bid a project. I am a bit worried about the submittal process and if I need to stamp a submittal, but I am just going to hand shake or agree with the owner that, that this is the product we selected. All of this money is going to life and finishing architecture school(I want this so bad). I would love to partner with someone eventually asap.

 I also am going to provide architectural visualization services and drafting services to architects in need of this type of help. I will provide stills, animations and drafting services at around 200 a still, 500 a animation and 500 on any drafting project unless it is like a 100k sqft project, I need a competent client. I just need Photoshop in order to take my visualization skills to the final level( that is the one thing my visuals are needing that I just couldn't figure out for the longest....... it was PHOTOSHOP :)....) After effects to add lens flares on intros and various design explanation during animations, and Dreamweaver are being learned as well, which makes me think I can provide web design for architects only, I am in this field I want to provide a affordable service to this profession. I think there will be someone who will be interested eventually.

Sorry for the long explanation, but maybe I will find an architect who doesn't know cad software who would like to drive his firm with the help of technology at a affordable price.

Jan 11, 17 11:06 am
Non Sequitur

Image result for lens flare meme

but seriously... is Florida that terrible that you can't get a job in an office?

Jan 11, 17 11:09 am

 I would LOVE  a job at an architect' office, it would also make me go down a bit on the service I will be providing, because it will not be brilliant work, but useable work. No one wants to give me a chance. I got one job out in The villages Fl who snapped me up faster than a bat out of hell who normally wants three interviews before he hires....pat on the back. I worked there doing renderings, animation and drafting, working twice as hard as everyone else in the drafting department, but I had a problem, I made mistakes. On my own a structural engineer will gladly fix the few mistakes that will be on those drawings also I have gotten a lot better since then I have aton of sample drawings and some spec sheets and the like since then. klpnstudio, llc - orlando, fl said to give them a call, but they didn't pick up the phone so I said f@#k it, and David weekly was a no reply(said he wanted an entry level draftsman...), so I continue studying finding out information getting ready to go out on my own.

Jan 11, 17 11:27 am
Non Sequitur

... let's get one thing straight here, your work is brilliant on it's own, but you're certain that it would need to be seriously compromised if it were to ever be part of an office's working drawing set?

Something here is not quite right

Jan 11, 17 12:04 pm

I am stunned by your reply Non Sequitur, thank you very much for that it feels good to know I am working in the right direction. If I were to work in a firm who gave opportunities at that scale I would give it my all. I would definitely need all of my books and resources such as the internet to make sure I do my best work. Buildings can get very big and require different construction techniques as supposed to light wood frame construction and masonry with parapet roofing like curtain walls which are a bit out of my league right now. I never worked on anything above three stories, but I know about columns, beams, and girders bolting and welding members, steel decking with steel joists but again out of my league at the moment.

Jan 11, 17 1:07 pm
x intern
Very strange post. How old are you my dream? If you talk like this in an interview it's not hard to understand why you can't find a firm. Are you wanting to start a residential design firm with no clients or go to arch school.
Jan 11, 17 3:09 pm

My dream is Balkins, right?

Jan 11, 17 4:01 pm



Jan 11, 17 4:15 pm

First I hope Josh Mings and Rick would take a hike before they ruin this perfectly good post trying to make it into something it is not.

x intern it is not my post I just kind of got into a convos

 I want to do both, when I was architecture school at Valencia I was working and I would like to go out on my own which is legal by law as long as it is residential(I don't want to get into a long debate about this just take it or leave it). I am mostly self taught and I am sure I can give a great service when I am ready. I have worked at two architecture firms and they both hired me rather quickly, it is just going out on your own is a bit more flexible as opposed to working at an architecture firm. I will have a engineer that will be paid to work with me on my drawings when there is a problem instead threats. A client can work with me on a stock plan with a engineer of his choice instead of threats. CA  can be  watching the construction the way I envisioned and to make sure the square foot print is square and not a rectangle. I will of course be lax if a contractor wants to do a certain thing his way, I will not argue along with engineering site visits. As built's will be created as well, procurement will be done with a project manual etc.

Jan 11, 17 5:14 pm

Well, you just kept me from posting any advice.

Jan 11, 17 5:40 pm
jla-x's comment has been hidden

Fact: female kangaroos have 3 vaginas. 

Jan 11, 17 5:56 pm
x intern
That is nonsense
You should not be allowed on the internet much less design someone's home.
Jan 12, 17 8:56 am

Well I have some advice for you, next time you see my posts of any kind or when I choose to write something why don't you take your sorry @ss along with Josh Mings, Jla-x,David curtis and you X intern and stay the HELL away from me. I don't want your sorry @sses any where near anything I post, you UNDERSTAND go to hell and suck on lemons. Every time I post, every time I say something DON'T come any where near it. I DON'T care about your opinion I DON'T care about your advice and I DON'T care about YOU. I don't see how you sorry @ss low lifes think it is ok to come around and talk in my conversations like I like you or care about you. SO WHEN YOU SEE ME GO SOMEWHERE ELSE!

Jan 12, 17 10:13 am

Well you obviously care. You wouldn't get angry otherwise. 

This has to be Koz. (Sorry Rick, you've actually been pretty cool lately).

Jan 12, 17 10:43 am

 I know where this is headed and I know you guys aren't going to stop posting so I am just going to ignore you and stop responding you.

Jan 12, 17 10:44 am
x intern
I can't imagine why you have problems keeping a job. Might have been a little harsh. You need to go to school and learn how to do what you want to do and grow up a bit as well.
Jan 12, 17 10:47 am
Non Sequitur

Josh, he predates Koz.

Some of you might remember the beating handed down to him when he showcased his building design and rendering website a few months back. I remember it well.

My Dreams, it would appear that your inability to acquire and keep a job in a professional office is likely due to how you approach the profession.  There are plenty of normally obvious traps that we, as licensed architect with several million dollars worth of construction completed, see in your attitude and inexperience. Sure, it's great fun to poke at someone's ignorance but try and see why you receive ridicule before lashing out.

Jan 12, 17 11:21 am
x intern
I did poke and it wasn't necessary. Dreams are good but you have to go after them realistically in this profession. No one is going to hire an uneducated designer with no experience.
Jan 12, 17 11:34 am

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Jan 15, 17 1:16 pm

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