Career Change - What should I do, now that Architecture is here?

Elijah S

Dear Everyone,

     I hope that everyone is managing during these exasperating and lonely times. By now, you've all probably read or heard every story or concern of a newbie, such as myself, about architecture and its education. I am just another lost cog in the machine, but I am hoping that the wisdom from anyone who has the time to respond to this will grant me a new perspective and possibly influence my decisions. Please, I hope you'll bear with me if you so choose to read through my thoughts.

     After the first 25 years of my life being both uncertain and unmotivated (and possibly uninspired) I have mostly learned about the things I do not want rather than what I do want. What I have discovered that is certain, however, is that I am not the complacent type. Having worked in a stagnant office and a stagnant kitchen has made this point crystal clear. This brings us to architecture, a field I have taken an interest in not only because it might combine the few skills that I do have (logic, maths, spatial awareness, drawing, appreciation for beauty), and not simply because it is a field I have not even considered during my first 25 experimental years, but also because I want to use these skills and knowledge to create hopefully useful and hopefully beautiful structures for people to live and be in.

     The dilemma and the many questions before me are as follows: should I, a lost cog with a Bachelor's in Fine Arts Major of Music from Concordia University in Montréal, a native to the city, apply to enter into architecture schools not knowing anything about any specialization? Does doing this make me an architect or an engineer or a city planner, whatever this may be? Should I apply and go to McGill University's School of Architecture? Should I aim to apply to schools internationally, such as the prestigious Architectural Association (AA) or Bartlett University in London?

     These questions of course lead to even more logistics planning, so to speak. Like, is the cost worth it going to these schools in London? I chose London probably for the many cliché reasons you can think of, but the main contender to this option is staying here in Canada, Montréal; where the cost as a student citizen is further subsidized, as well as already having my own apartment, a family that lives close by, so on and so forth. Is it worth borrowing that sort of dough to go to London to be cramped up in my little world of architecture anyway? What of the quality of education? What of the prestigious names? Perhaps the alternative could be that I start here at McGill, complete the undergrad B.Sci.Arch. before pursuing a Master's or focus at AA or Bartlett or alt? (this latest option seems the most practical and hits 2 birds with one stone)

     As you can see, I have many questions. What is your input on all this? I am both practical and pragmatic about life but do realize there might be a tinge of romanticizing going on with my idea to go to AA or Bartlett. The greatest question I find myself asking when looking at anything or structure is "Ok, but what is it useful for?". The inherent question that makes me constantly pursue things I might be good at, to find my oh-so-special useful purpose, and to hopefully help others and spread beauty among an often drab world. And thus, I stand in front of Architecture as my career with these sentiments. Your thoughts?

Another reason I have hesitated to begin this endeavor is due to the quarantine. I thought it might be a huge waste of an opportunity to start architecture school, abroad or not, being unable to meet the people and to see the very wonderful lands I intend to study.

I realize this is a lot to share but I want to analyze these problems in full, and I hope that the many wise souls on this forum might share their perspectives and help this cog along the way.

If you've made it this far, I thank you for your attention and time. And, I thank you further for sharing your thoughts if you so choose to.

Regardless, kindest regards, and bonne santé.


Elijah S.

Dec 5, 20 3:28 pm
Non Sequitur

McGill is an excellent arch school and since you’re a QC resident, tuition is literally free... but it’s the only English March in the province, so you may need to consider the 3y programs outside of QC. You should still stay within the country tho, international tuition is a bitch and it’s not worth massive debt. 

Can’t help with the rest but ask yourself why you’re attracted to architecture. Do you love building design, technical details, and professional practice? Or are you another dreamer thinking they can change the world with pretty sketches?

Dec 5, 20 4:51 pm  · 
Elijah S

Your input has really helped me and has got me thinking about it differently, so thank you!

atelier nobody

To add to NS's final sentence, I'll use a music metaphor (or is it a simile, I forget the difference?): Almost all of us are playing an instrument in the orchestra, many will get the chance to be the conductor, some may get to do some small compositions, but only a few are major composers. So, if your heart is set on being the composer, the reality of daily life in architecture might not be for you, but if you like the idea of adding your bit of interpretation to the overall composition you might love architecture.

Non Sequitur

^and to add... some of us play the gong with violins instead of padded mallets.

2  · 

Guy has a major in music LMAO. speaking of musician to architect. Reminds me of Michel Rojkind.

Here is my favorite interview series that I read all the time for the guy.


Get inspired and have dream.

Dec 5, 20 9:14 pm  · 
1  · 

Yeah the musician to architect move can be a very fruitful one. Rojkind, Xenakis, I’m sure others. When you think about it, we’re composing with space instead of sound. Go for it!

Elijah S

Actually, while doing my music major, one of my friends and classmates was already working as an architect while pursuing his passion for orchestral and chamber compositions. So there must be an overlap somewhere!

Thanks for the encouragement!


Get your bachelors at McGill, which, yes, is a great school. You could then do a masters with scholarship in the UK, Europe or wherever. However passionate you are about architecture, it makes no sense to spend much money on education, as the returns are terrible in the short term. Hope this helps.

Dec 7, 20 2:29 pm  · 

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