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Architect - what is the job like? (questions)

jakubfrišo

Hello friends, I'm a high school student considering his future career path and I already got some knowledge about who I am and what I enjoy doing but I want to go more specifically towards concrete professions and architect is so far the most appealing to me - at least on paper.

And that's why I would like to ask you some questions I prepared to probe this occupation with utmost accuracy and honesty - I think, I don't know any better yet. 

I'm so grateful for each of your answers, for your time and effort. 

Feel free to leave any note or recommendation, or any insightful word really - is priceless to me. 

PS: Please be utmost honest and serious with your answers and advice. 

I'm really potentially making a hard real life decisions because of your word. 

Questions:

  1. How do you feel on Monday morning?
  2. What are the most common anxieties, and pains you feel?
  3. What are the moments in which you feel satisfied and fullfiled (by your work)?
  4. Has your experience of this job changed much over time? In what ways? For better or worse? Did it exceed your expectations? 
  5. When you are away from work (say on holiday), do you think about your job? Do you like thinking about it this way? What goes through your mind? 
  6. Do you think you are well suited to your job? Would you go as far to say as an great artist - that your work has chosen you? 
  7. Describe a success at work. Go into detail …
  8. For how long you have to be in industry till you can start doing "beautiful", artistic projects and not just low brow endeavors you have to take so you can survive on bills? When you can afford to live off of art?
  9. How much you are "your own boss" as an architect? Or does it depend upon projects? On how experienced and well established you are? Like film director for example...
  10. How much do you experience these things at your work: creativity, self expression, creating visually beautiful things, pleasure of technology (looking at problem and working out what tools to use to its solution), pleasure of creating order (good design where everything has great purpose and connection), pleasure of collaborating and meeting with people, learning new things and so keeping up with your craft. 
  11. How much is work of architect idealized? Is the reality and industry much more painful? Is it really a job that can be very pleasurable and rich to a person who is congruent with it with its personality and talents? 
  12. What best predispositions and capacities are needed for this work? Talent and strength wise... - creative, logical & critical, visual & spatial thinking, handy, team player and so on...?
 
Aug 22, 17 5:23 pm
Non Sequitur
Sounds like typical high school homework crowd sourcing.
Aug 22, 17 5:37 pm
jakubfrišo

Nope, my own research...

JLC-1

I will get back to you this weekend, it's too long to answer from work.

Aug 22, 17 5:38 pm
jeremyedwards

Hi, I am speaking from a student's perspective. I just completed my first year of architecture school. I am currently employed and have been for year and a half, which isn't a whole lot of time, but I do observe the day to day and I'll be the first to say that if you're principal of the firm with about 4-8 people working as a principal architect, I have been told by the principal, is an extremely stressful job.

As a student who is going to work and going to school, it's extremely tough. Time management is an incredibly important factor in succeeding in this profession. From what I've observed it seems like time is everything in this profession, from school to work.

I would highly recommend that you gain some sort of experience before or during your schooling rather than waiting until the very end, when you're applying for your job. You will be able to apply the differences between the life of an architecture student and an architect. I assure you they are two very different worlds, but it is how you approach them and how you maneuver them that really counts.

Aug 22, 17 5:54 pm
jakubfrišo

Thanks for an advice, already considering it!

archinine
1. Tired
2. Financial (personal/family)
3. When I leave the office
4. Yes, worse
5. Not on purpose. No. Ugh.
6. Sure. There is no art in architecture. But yes I can do 'art' (outside of work) and I'm not terrible at it.
7. Making it to another Friday
8. Ha! Either never or when you are born wealthy. There is no in between, unless you marry way way up. There is also no art. Stop saying art.
9. No, the client is the boss. Then there's your boss.
10. Rarely to never
11. All of it. It's a hoax. Run and never look back.
12. Money. Personal funds and lots of them.

There I feel slightly better now. Time to check how low my bank accounts have fallen.
Aug 22, 17 7:57 pm
jakubfrišo

I guess, thank you for your... honesty.

randomised

Yes, love them questionnaires with numbers!

  1. How do you feel on Monday morning?

    -Depends on the weekend and the week ahead. 
  2. What are the most common anxieties, and pains you feel?

    -They’re totally unrelated to architecture.
  3. What are the moments in which you feel satisfied and fullfiled (by your work)? 

    -When I had a positive influence and contribution on the outcome.
  4. Has your experience of this job changed much over time? In what ways? For better or worse? Did it exceed your expectations? 

    -I was supposed to be running an OMA/BIG-like operation by now according to my younger self but that didn’t happen (yet!).
  5. When you are away from work (say on holiday), do you think about your job? Do you like thinking about it this way? What goes through your mind?  

    -I don’t go on holidays but I do travel. I’m away from work most of the time and only think about the job when I don’t have one.
  6. Do you think you are well suited to your job? Would you go as far to say as an great artist - that your work has chosen you? 

    -I’m very well suited for the job I want but not always for the jobs I have.
  7. Describe a success at work. Go into detail …

    -The groundbreaking ceremony of a project I worked on, walking on a building site and seeing your efforts translated into reality (or seeing them being screwed up which is annoying), winning a competition, getting my contract extended.
  8. For how long you have to be in industry till you can start doing "beautiful", artistic projects and not just low brow endeavors you have to take so you can survive on bills? When you can afford to live off of art?

    -You can do that from the start but living off of it is a different story, make sure your partner works in a different field ;)
  9. How much you are "your own boss" as an architect? Or does it depend upon projects? On how experienced and well established you are? Like film director for example...

    -Depends on the project.
  10. How much do you experience these things at your work: creativity, self expression, creating visually beautiful things, pleasure of technology (looking at problem and working out what tools to use to its solution), pleasure of creating order (good design where everything has great purpose and connection), pleasure of collaborating and meeting with people, learning new things and so keeping up with your craft. 

    -All of them on a regular basis except the pleasure of creating order, I don’t take pleasure from creating order, I thrive on chaos.
  11. How much is work of architect idealized? Is the reality and industry much more painful? Is it really a job that can be very pleasurable and rich to a person who is congruent with it with its personality and talents? 

    -Someone here said architects are like lawyers that make drawings, in a nutshell, and this: 
  12. What best predispositions and capacities are needed for this work? Talent and strength wise... - creative, logical & critical, visual & spatial thinking, handy, team player and so on...?

    -All of them.




Aug 23, 17 3:14 am
jakubfrišo

Thanks for great answers, sir! Really enlightening information.

jakubfrišo

But you kinda lost me on the 11th question, could you explain your idea more further?

jakubfrišo

But you kinda lost me on the 11th question, could you explain your idea more further?

jakubfrišo

Sorry, accidentally doubled the question.

Would you mind answering some bonus ones for me?

  • Why did you choose this field in first place? Or, in your case, how did it chose you? But I think I already asked that one...
  • To whom you would definitively not recommend this field? To make it more personal and tough - let's say that your young daughter is suddenly excited about choosing this profession...
  • Only profession I known so far is filmmaking. Would you say that it is so far from architecture?


can the toilet just be on rails so the user can slide it back and forth as necessary?

randomised

*11. This semi-Romantic idea of the creative misunderstood genius, that lone hero - the architect - who can design entire city blocks, hell entire cities, all by himself with the stroke of his magic rotring pen behind the drawing board, it's also always a white guy in his 40s maybe early 50s if well-preserved.

randomised

Bonus #1. Couldn't decide between medicine and architecture, loved to draw and play with wooden blocks as a kid, so naturally chose architecture in the end.

Bonus #2. I wouldn't recommend or advice against this field or any field, I know too little of this field and hardly anything of other fields to provide useful recommendations. I also prefer to let people make their own well- or ill-informed choices and possibly mistakes, you'll learn much more from those.

Bonus #3. Nothing is far from architecture as I see it so also filmmaking not.

randomised

And about that toilet on rails, ask the suit with the beard :)

  1. How do you feel on Monday morning? Great, it is my day off.
  2. What are the most common anxieties, and pains you feel? My feet hurt, I think it is the new standing desk.
  3. What are the moments in which you feel satisfied and fulfilled (by your work)? When the work is bubbling nicely like good soup.
  4. Has your experience of this job changed much over time? In what ways? For better or worse? Did it exceed your expectations? Yes. I became increasingly less willing to tolerate rude and or dumb people as years went on.
  5. When you are away from work (say on holiday), do you think about your job? Do you like thinking about it this way? What goes through your mind? I pretty much work every day even on my day off. 
  6. Do you think you are well suited to your job? Would you go as far to say as an great artist - that your work has chosen you? I chose it based on the results of 3 aptitude tests, they all said architecture.
  7. Describe a success at work. Go into detail …When a client is intelligent and seems to understand the value of architecture as a culture bearer.
  8. For how long you have to be in industry till you can start doing "beautiful", artistic projects and not just low brow endeavors you have to take so you can survive on bills? When you can afford to live off of art? 1 day, now. As long as you are breathing, you are technically alive.
  9. How much you are "your own boss" as an architect? Or does it depend upon projects? On how experienced and well established you are? Like film director for example...Much. Very. Yes.
  10. How much do you experience these things at your work: creativity, self expression, creating visually beautiful things, pleasure of technology (looking at problem and working out what tools to use to its solution), pleasure of creating order (good design where everything has great purpose and connection), pleasure of collaborating and meeting with people, learning new things and so keeping up with your craft. Yes, a lot.
  11. How much is work of architect idealized? Is the reality and industry much more painful? Is it really a job that can be very pleasurable and rich to a person who is congruent with it with its personality and talents? Some. Yes. Probably.
  12. What best predispositions and capacities are needed for this work? Talent and strength wise... - creative, logical & critical, visual & spatial thinking, handy, team player and so on...? You must be alive and willing to draw things and think about them all the time.
Aug 23, 17 10:12 am
senjohnblutarsky
  1. How do you feel on Monday morning? Varies.  Usually sleepy.
  2. What are the most common anxieties, and pains you feel? Poop pains. Every now and then I have a dream that it is the end of my thesis year and I haven't done anything.  Probably should have turned in a final copy of my thesis...
  3. What are the moments in which you feel satisfied and fullfiled (by your work)? When construction moves on without any complaining from the contractor and no change orders due to errors on my end.
  4. Has your experience of this job changed much over time? In what ways? For better or worse? Did it exceed your expectations? More responsibility over time.  Not getting out in the field as much as I used to, but will be back to that soon.
  5. When you are away from work (say on holiday), do you think about your job? Do you like thinking about it this way? What goes through your mind? Occasionally, I think about work. But, I do my best to leave work at 5:30 (and I mean leave it all there). 
  6. Do you think you are well suited to your job? Would you go as far to say as an great artist - that your work has chosen you? Art... Ha.  I'm good at what I do.  I cram 10 pounds of shit into a 5 pound bag.
  7. Describe a success at work. Go into detail … See number 3. And sometimes I fit 15 pounds of shit into the 5 pound bag.
  8. For how long you have to be in industry till you can start doing "beautiful", artistic projects and not just low brow endeavors you have to take so you can survive on bills? When you can afford to live off of art? Art... Ha.  See a theme yet? 
  9. How much you are "your own boss" as an architect? Or does it depend upon projects? On how experienced and well established you are? Like film director for example... You'll never be the boss.  Clients like to act like bosses, even if you own the firm.  The bigger goal should be controlling (or not, as you see fit) as much as you can while meeting project needs. 
  10. How much do you experience these things at your work: creativity, self expression, creating visually beautiful things, pleasure of technology (looking at problem and working out what tools to use to its solution), pleasure of creating order (good design where everything has great purpose and connection), pleasure of collaborating and meeting with people, learning new things and so keeping up with your craft. uhhhhh I make buildings that meet client needs.  My clients have no money.  See 10lbs/5lbs comments.  I do enjoy finding new products and new assemblies.  And then finding that they don't work or fail.  What can I say?I like destroying things. 
  11. How much is work of architect idealized? Is the reality and industry much more painful? Is it really a job that can be very pleasurable and rich to a person who is congruent with it with its personality and talents?  This questionnaire and its responses should answer this.  It is idealized.  There is a lot of technical nitty gritty and some pretty picture stuff.  Good architects can do both. Don't plan to get rich.  You shouldn't be entering a profession for money.  You do what you like to do, and make sure it meets your needs.   
  12. What best predispositions and capacities are needed for this work? Talent and strength wise... - creative, logical & critical, visual & spatial thinking, handy, team player and so on...? Be someone who gets along with others.  Be willing to work with others.  Most architects have trouble delegating or just don't do it at all.  
    1. Be willing to let go.  Some days, you have to be able to just say "fuck it."  
Aug 23, 17 10:39 am
tintt
  1. How do you feel on Monday morning? Rejuvinated, enthusiastic. I usually start the week full of optimism and it dwindles by the end of the week. 
  2. What are the most common anxieties, and pains you feel? What makes me anxious is having to do things without being able to think through all the ramifications, if I have to lock myself into a decision before I have explored all the possibilities. 
  3. What are the moments in which you feel satisfied and fullfiled (by your work)? When I break through on a difficult problem and present a beautiful solution that works on multiple levels.
  4. 4. Has your experience of this job changed much over time? In what ways? For better or worse? Did it exceed your expectations? Very much so. I didn't really know what architects did even after I had been working for a while. It was (and still is) a surprise how much architects do and how responsible they are for so many different things. I left the profession for 7 years and came back with an entirely new perspective.
  5. When you are away from work (say on holiday), do you think about your job? Do you like thinking about it this way? What goes through your mind? I don't separate work from who I am so I think about work all the time. I'm self employed so I'm not tied to an office where politics influence the idea that work occurs at a desk and only at a desk and only during work hours. If I get stumped, I go hiking or swimming or phone a friend and it usually results in resolving whatever hill I was stuck on. 
  6. Do you think you are well suited to your job? Would you go as far to say as an great artist - that your work has chosen you? Not necessarily. I don't think I fit in but I also think thats a good thing. I am a good artist and extremely creative, I definitely belong in a creative field but my definition of creative is also quite broad. I'm a big picture thinker which is good for an architect but you still have to be detail oriented and my detail orientedness isn't always there where many architects are very detail oriented and I get jealous cause I can't always do that. Entrepreneurship and design has chosen me, architecture - maybe, maybe not. I might stick with architecture in a traditional way or likely I won't after a few more years, I'll leave again.
  7. Describe a success at work. Go into detail … Once on a project where I designed a "canyon" in the ceiling with curves I was at the jobsite and the drywaller with a huge smile told me how much he loved working on the job and how cool it was that I designed something so creative. My design made him enjoy his job and I thought that was cool.
  8. For how long you have to be in industry till you can start doing "beautiful", artistic projects and not just low brow endeavors you have to take so you can survive on bills? When you can afford to live off of art? Day one for me. I've always been designer oriented, not technically oriented. When someone needs it to look pretty or to break out of the box to come up with something new and fresh, I am the goto person.
  9. How much you are "your own boss" as an architect? Or does it depend upon projects? On how experienced and well established you are? Like film director for example... I am my own boss. Clients are people, I like them. I forgive them if they act unknowingly or ignorantly. I like working and with multiple people as a consultant, not as an employee at a firm. I'm not a good subordinate and loathe corporate structures. 
  10. How much do you experience these things at your work: creativity, self expression, creating visually beautiful things, pleasure of technology (looking at problem and working out what tools to use to its solution), pleasure of creating order (good design where everything has great purpose and connection), pleasure of collaborating and meeting with people, learning new things and so keeping up with your craft. I am creative all day everyday. I try not to self-express, I try to be a be a medium to find what the project wants to be, and not make it about myself. I try to learn something new everyday by reading articles or researching materials. I enjoy meeting new people because you can learn a lot from them.
  11. How much is work of architect idealized? Is the reality and industry much more painful? Is it really a job that can be very pleasurable and rich to a person who is congruent with it with its personality and talents?  Once when I was expressing frustration about the difficulties I was having to my mom she responded angrily, "How hard can it be? Hipped roof, gable roof, pick one!" Uh, if only it were that easy. I think people think we choose architecture features from drop down menus and the computer creates a printout. When a client recently asked how fast something could be done and my answer wasn't good enough, I had to remind him that it was all CUSTOM work, like making a suit instead of buying one off the shelf. Again, drawings are created by me, not the computer. 
  12. What best predispositions and capacities are needed for this work? Talent and strength wise... - creative, logical & critical, visual & spatial thinking, handy, team player and so on...? Good question. I don't know. I'd say easy going, accommodating, and friendly - a facilitator, but many find success by being the exact opposite, being a hardass. Regardless, being able to work very hard... when you want to give up, you persevere instead, that is probably the biggest thing. 
Aug 23, 17 11:31 am
proto

it is like snuggling kittens & getting waterboarded & sometimes it gets exciting too

Aug 23, 17 11:53 am

I hate it when I am getting waterboarded and the cats run across my naked chest. Those cats can be so inconsiderate.

s=r*(theta)

1. Consulting starts at $250

2. Consulting starts at $250

3. Consulting starts at $250

4. Consulting starts at $250

5. Consulting starts at $250

6. Consulting starts at $250

7. Consulting starts at $250

8. Consulting starts at $250

9. Consulting starts at $250

10. Consulting starts at $250

11. Consulting starts at $250

12. Consulting starts at $250

Aug 23, 17 1:29 pm

that is $50 more per hour than what I charge

see also: undercutting

randomised

You must be really busy then.

yes, funny how that works

randomised

My reply was initially directed at theta, yours weren't there yet, but good to know :)

Chuck71

1. How do you feel on Monday morning?

Lately, wish I was working somewhere else. Execpt where I am (with my family) I need a visa, and the somewhere else is around 5,500 miles away.

2. What are the most common anxieties, and pains you feel?

That I will be held accountable for the execrable work and lack of responsibility of other designers and Architects on the project, when I'm the last in a quality review workflow, by my boss who thinks its all a bit silly that Architects squabble with each other about design (he's a quantity Surveyor)

3. What are the moments in which you feel satisfied and fullfiled (by your work)?

Sorry what was the question?

4. Has your experience of this job changed much over time? In what ways? For better or worse? Did it exceed your expectations?

Well, years ago I got to do design. then I ended up in commercial firms, and became a CAD monkey, before becoming a technical CAD monkey. While I'm good at it, I get close to zero respect for it, as I'm solving problems the people who create them don't think exist.

5. When you are away from work (say on holiday), do you think about your job? Do you like thinking about it this way? What goes through your mind?

I try not to think about it. Really I'm tired of working 50+ hours a week, dealing with other peoples mistakes and correcting them, at risk of being ticked off for not doing so.

6. Do you think you are well suited to your job? Would you go as far to say as an great artist - that your work has chosen you?

Years ago, one of my lecturers (who ended up as Professor, and won the RAIA Gold Medal told me I should have gone into engineering. I think she was right.

7. Describe a success at work. Go into detail …

Lately not punching my Portuguese coworkers repeatedly and hard as they give me snide backtalk when I ask simple questions, counts as a success.

8. For how long you have to be in industry till you can start doing "beautiful", artistic projects and not just low brow endeavors you have to take so you can survive on bills? When you can afford to live off of art?

Most will never do beautiful projects. That is for TV and movie architects.

9. How much you are "your own boss" as an architect? Or does it depend upon projects? On how experienced and well established you are? Like film director for example...

Theoretically I am, as on my project and in our project office, I'm the only qualified (expat) Architect, The project is however set up, and established as a Portuguese led design effort. That means being British trained and having all round skills, compared to a very narrow skill set, being marginalised and expected to sweep up others mistakes, due to my own personal integrity not letting them go by, while my colleagues look up the list of latest excuses as to how they aren't responsible for the design, for all they like to proclaim they are 'design team'. That creates a lot of tension, I had to tell my boss Itoday as I handed him a pile of RFI's with evasive excuses (some more than 12 months old) that I'm no longer taking any responsibility for the rubbish work of my colleagues, or the consultants.

10. How much do you experience these things at your work: creativity, self expression, creating visually beautiful things, pleasure of technology (looking at problem and working out what tools to use to its solution), pleasure of creating order (good design where everything has great purpose and connection), pleasure of collaborating and meeting with people, learning new things and so keeping up with your craft.

Lately, never. Unless your talking about me selecting an appropriate mechanical services valve, tap, or other mechanical services fitting.

No, I'm not kidding.

11. How much is work of architect idealized? Is the reality and industry much more painful? Is it really a job that can be very pleasurable and rich to a person who is congruent with it with its personality and talents?

Way over hyped. Some can do it well, the rest is drudgery. Like most work.

12. What best predispositions and capacities are needed for this work? Talent and strength wise... - creative, logical & critical, visual & spatial thinking, handy, team player and so on...?

Depends what type of Architect you want to be. Some turn into high level political types, completely useless at design, and you'd never want them to detail anything. They end up running firms, as there is nothing else for them to do. They set the tone for everyone else unfortunately.

With others, having avoided technical by pretending something like Autocad is hard, end up as designers.

I guess all the things you suggest are correct, but there are aptitudes and attitudes that have a massive impact as well.

What gets me is how some of the more useless end up in positions of responsibility?

I guess I've worked in too many poor quality commercial firms, for too long (22 years post-grad now) to be enthusiastic anymore, and done too much technical work on too many bad designs done by people who think being a creative makes them smarter than anyone who actually knows what they are doing.

See: Grenfell Tower fire, with the design of the building done by architects and led in the responsible firm by a non-Architect.

Aug 26, 17 4:34 am

"I hate it when I am getting waterboarded and the cats run across my naked chest. Those cats can be so inconsiderate."

This sums up what "the job" is like.

That is in part why I do consulting.

Aug 26, 17 10:48 am

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