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Confused about Career: Architect or Urban Planner

katsuing

How do I decide between pursuing a career as an architect, or a career in urban planning?

I am an upperclassman in an undergrad architecture program in the US- and I am approaching time to choose grad school. 

I always thought I'd be an architect ever since I was 11. I have worked in a handful of smaller architecture firms, been in the undergrad scene of architecture for 6 years (was part time for a while so I could work, hence the extended time period), and suddenly I am finding myself wondering if being an architect isn't for me.

I feel pretty worn out, I despise hand-making models in class, and I never feel like putting in insane amount of work into my projects like my peers. I also feel discouraged by working in the real world firms: the architects I have seen have always seemed overworked, underpaid, and somewhat cynical. 

On the other hand, I love architectural history and political science (I am working on two minors in these). I like reading Jane Jacobs, theories about The Radiant City, etc. I am very interested in the idea of architecture changing society and making places safer and developing places into better versions of themselves. This makes me wonder if I would like Urban Planning.

Here are my concerns though:

-I've been in school a long time. Maybe I just feel burned out because it's been a long time. Then again, this doesn't even compare to doing this for my whole LIFE. I'm tired after 6 years, but then expect to be passionate for 50? 

-I have wanted to be an architect since I was 11. After so many years, I'm going to run off of a total whim in my last years of undergrad?

-Urban Planning isn't really "design". Will I miss it? It's hard to tell with my current feelings of fatigue.

-Isn't it hard to find a career as an Urban Planner? As an architect, I feel I could go anywhere. But Urban Planners are often limited to major cities, and there can't be more than a handful in each place, right?

-I've been spoiled by paid architecture internships; will I have to go half a decade as an unpaid, coffee-retrieving lackey if I pursue Urban Planning?

Thank you to anyone who can offer me advice. I am aware that I am the only one who truly can know the answer, but I am quite lost at the moment and appreciate any comments that can help me out of this maze.

 
Mar 3, 17 8:44 pm
starrchitect

You answered your own inquiry. You are the only who one truly can know the answer. 

Mar 3, 17 8:48 pm
randomised

Do both and cross-fertilise.

Mar 4, 17 7:49 am
geezertect

If you want to "change the society", architecture is not the way to do it.  Common delusion in this profession.

Try to be a builder/developer:  Those with the gold make the rules.

Mar 4, 17 9:48 am
starrchitect

This. AKA...The Golden Rule.

jamesaleisterbarcelona

Preach! Being an architect is never enough.

Agreed. Masters of Urban Design programs have been trying to bridge this divide, but sadly don't set you up for any sort of licensure. The professions really have gone two different ways over the last half century a

citizen

A couple of items:

  • First and most obvious: consider urban design.  You've already got an architecture degree, which is critical.  A masters in planning or UD should prepare you nicely.  UD practice is still very much about design, but often without the crazy hours.  
  • Lots of "planning" (as well as UD) gets done in private firms consulting for local governments whose planning departments are small.  So you're not necessarily tied to public agency employment.
Mar 4, 17 3:13 pm
cipyboy

take an M.Arch linked with a specialization in Urban Design. That way you can be both architect and urban designer/planner.I have always considered both as similar, as they're both dealing with built environment and cross paths once in a while , plus taking both will make a stronger profile for your resume. 

Mar 8, 17 1:25 pm
sameolddoctor

NEITHER

Mar 8, 17 1:32 pm
kaplantom23

I agree with citizen above. Urban design can be so interdisciplinary and allow you do to all kinds of different things while designing.

Jul 14, 17 2:30 pm
randomised

Hi Steven!


Jul 14, 17 3:14 pm
citizen

That is FANTASTIC! I'd never seen it before.

"Isn't an architect just an art school dropout with a tilty table and a big ruler?"

novinsystem20

take an M.Arch linked with a specialization in Urban Design. That way you can be both architect and urban designer/planner.I have always considered both as similar, as they're both dealing with built environment and cross paths once in a while , plus taking both will make a stronger profile for your resume

http://www.ariantiss.com/%D9%8...

Nov 15, 17 6:13 am
danauk79

Looks like you like both, can't you somehow mix them? 

Jul 9, 18 4:46 am

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