Working for Starchitects


Hi guys, I was discussing this with architecture friends and thought it would be great to hear from everybody about the idea of working for Starchitects during mid-career life? It is quite common for architecture graduates to work with Starchitects as it is much easier to be recruited as well. Is it worth to explore the same wild dream even in mid-career i.e. mid 30s - 40s? 

Jun 11, 19 11:41 am

What will you get out of working for a starchitect during your mid career? What do you expect them to give you?

Jun 11, 19 11:50 am
Non Sequitur

Already in mid-career by your 30s?  whoa, must be nice.

Jun 11, 19 12:09 pm

I have heard personal accounts from Architects working for Starchitects (notable Japanese and European architects) and the consensus was that if you desire a decent work/life balance, forget about it and work for a reputable medium to big corporate firm, or boutique design firm instead. I'm all for chasing your dreams and working on fancy design oriented projects but the reality is that at the end of the day, you are a means to an end for the Starchitect and will be another cog in the wheel working for someone else's vision and dream. Personally, I think "fancy design" is overrated unless you have some crazy talent or undying passion to slave away hours and hours of unpaid overtime and are absolutely 100% invested to the profession in hopes to achieve notable fame or contribution in the world of "design". Most of my peers and Architects I know that chose the "design" route have either not much to show for it (other than a fancy name and projects on their resume), are struggling to pay their bills, or are stuck in the perpetual loop of working late nights to to pump out renderings, graphics, presentation material for the next day. Its a ruthless and unforgiving design world from what I hear and it takes a lot of sacrifice to get your own name and vision out there. Its analogous to the typical hungry artist looking for their big break. On the other hand, life is short, do it while you're young. :)

Jun 11, 19 1:48 pm

I know some people that started like that and stuck it out and are doing fine now. I regularly see OMA staff in the train at totally normal hours, know some people at MVRDV and UNStudio that have started families and don’t even do full time. Knowing how to get shit done and how to schedule your time is all, (and having recent grads on staff that do the renderings and models during the night also helps a little)


@random seems like you 're well connected. I'll buy you a coffee when I come to the NL for my masters ;)


@randomised That is true as well. My intent wasn't to paint all Starchiect office's as absolute hell, but the reality is that you tend to sacrifice a lot (be it time, hours, work/life balance) all in the pursuit of "design". The ones that are burning the midnight fuel are typically juniour to intermediate staff as they are easily replaceable or flexible. 

I'll admit what I wrote as anecdotal, but I've heard too many first hand experiences to ignore that there is some element of truth behind their experiences.

The successful stories that I've heard are ones that were willing to put in the sacrifices be it time, young, globe trotter lifestyle or no children etc. with little to no major responsibilities outside of their work. But the pay on the other hand... well that is another story.


The pay in the Netherlands is more or less regulated with fixed minimum salaries depending on experience and position and comes with a pension, holiday money (13th month) and I don’t even know how many holidays exactly from the top of my head...but to be honest in other disciplines like engineering or IT the pay is much better.

You don't want to work for a starchitect, you want to work for the next starchitect.

Jun 12, 19 8:47 am

True, the projects that propel architects into starchitecturedom are where it’s at.


So true.


Currently working for a borderline starchitect as a mid-levelish person. All i'll say is i've already realized there is an expiration date on this experience.

Jun 12, 19 6:38 pm

My first job out of school was at a starchitect. Interesting projects, high calibre people but long hours. I never regretted getting that job as opposed to other jobs I've had or interviewed for since then. If you are after quality definitely go to the starchitect firm. 

Jun 13, 19 1:20 pm

I work for a firm where the president thought he was a starchitect. If it’s any indication to what working in a real starchitects firm, then its mixed. The guy was a jerk but I payed low so didn’t suffer too much from work life balance. 

Jun 17, 19 5:31 pm

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