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Condo architect experiences?

gentle puppies

Mainly speaking to the Toronto and Vancouver market here.  I've been mainly doing civic/institutional work at my current firm, and getting paid well, but have always been condo-curious.  How's it like?  A couple of my coworkers came from condo firms and told me I'm crazy for wanting to switch the other way.

But I've studied the market for years and think my natural intuition for efficiency in design might be better-suited to shaping developer trends in mass-housing, to impact more of the urban landscape than a handful of landmark civic buildings with fancy materials.  I'm also a bit overwhelmed by the scale, complexity, pace and number of stakeholders in our firm's projects, which makes me narrow my focus on design (and consultant coordination only where it affects design), while tuning out on all other project/client management.  I rather work on simpler projects while taking more ownership of them.

Will i get disillusioned with condos?  Will developers be too cheap even for me?  Will my skills in intuiting the best-value approach be wasted on them?  Are they going to make me do tacky onyx walls in lobbies lol...

 
May 16, 20 6:49 pm
citizen

Condo-curious, bored with bureaucrats, desires domestic diversion. Canuck cannot canoodle with just anyone: bargain bosses and budget builders are bigly banned.

May 16, 20 7:59 pm  · 
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midlander

I've spent my entire career so far in commercial work - at times including condos - and love it. There is a balance of quality and speed that sometimes makes design a little more like a sport where your ability to execute accurately is as important as more thoughtful strategy. It's a bit more up and down with business cycles but if you find the right role, the ups can pay very well. If you go into intentionally and with a real curiosity about the work and what makes for a successful development you'll have a lot of opportunity. Not sure about the timing right now but if you have a chance, go for it.

May 16, 20 8:25 pm  · 
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monosierra

It depends a lot on which end of the market you're working in. Ultra luxurious markets obviously are willing to pay for premium design and materials. High end condos enjoy some of that latitude as well. The cheaper you go the more stringent the budgets and the lower the demand for 'Design' beyond the professional. I'd say low cost housing ironically calls for more creativity from the architect.

You'd also have to consider the roles of the design and executive architects. For condos, the developer could hire a celebrity design architect to do the 'Design' and have the executive handle the grunt work of realizing the design.

May 17, 20 1:23 pm  · 
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thisisnotmyname

Not to mention the way interior designer(s) can reduce the architect's role on a condo job. Sometimes there's one for the lobby and shared spaces and another for the unit interiors.

1  · 
gentle puppies

I'm not interested in ultra luxury towers or working with starchitects.  Prefer mid to upper-mid market - I want to be the Joseph Eichler of condos and have imitators pumping out high-design to the masses.

My pet peeve is that interiors and landscape are separate disciplines lol.  Those are part of the architecture!

May 17, 20 7:52 pm  · 
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citizen

On my one visit to Toronto (great city!) I was amazed by the huge number of high-rise apartment/condo towers, most of them recent.  Everywhere.  So many.  Is there any danger of a glut?

May 17, 20 8:11 pm  · 
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Non Sequitur

Puppies, based on the info you're given in your other thread, you'll be looking at a serious pay cut.  Moving from the civic world to the commercial one is a big leap and there is no room for people on the just design side of the business.  Margins are thin and teams are small.  You can't go far unless you can effectively do the CD and CA on the projects because the design portion is also small.  


May 17, 20 9:00 pm  · 
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gentle puppies

Small teams are what I love about condos... I've been so used to massive and inefficient teams.  Just about every project I did would've been done better with 50% fewer people and 20% more time.  I'm hoping for roughly the same pay in a higher position lol...

May 20, 20 8:10 pm  · 
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Non Sequitur

Very wishful thinking.

1  · 
thisisnotmyname

The op's need could be met by simply working at a smaller firm. I don't think it needs to or should be one that does condos. Most condo firms I know of are not terribly fun workplaces and that whole market sector will probably take a beating from COVID-19.

1  · 
apscoradiales

"...Most condo firms I know of are not terribly fun workplaces...", yeah it depends on the team you are working with and deadlines which are always ridiculous and getting more ridiculous.

Condos to that end could not be further from public or publically funded projects.

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apscoradiales

Gentle puppy,

do it!

change your job and go and work for a condo firm.

You'll get some different experience, work under a relatively different set of rules, but don't expect to change your life.

Most juicy jobs are already spoken for at condo design companies, and at the end of the day, you'll discover that it's all the same shit, just a different day and a different crew.

At the end of the day, you will realise that all building are, essentially, the same - they all have a floor (or floors), walls and a roof.

The programmes written for any individual building are different - architects hardly ever do the programme these days, but buildings are buildings.

you will have less players involved in the project doing a condo rather than Toronto Union Station - I'm thinking of TTC where a whole battalion of people working at TTC show up at even smallest and least significant of meetings, but you will still have, on occasion, an asshole developer client and a totally ridiculous deadline.

But, like I said, it's good to get some experience in all types of projects - you will end up being better on your job when you know so much more.

May 27, 20 9:40 pm  · 
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I think you have a clear direction, then go ahead and develop it

May 27, 20 9:47 pm  · 
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