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How did you know you "love" architecture? Looking for second career advise

az0116

TLDR: I'm not an architect, trying to figure out if I want to be one as a second/third career, seeking advise on how to dip my toes in.

Background.  Im a 31 y.o., I have a degree in animation/film, I taught art and design at international high schools schools, before transitioning to a second career as a UX designer.  I aim to be in this career at least a little while longer (3-4 years).  I still have some curiosity and drive in this career, and I want to save enough money so that my next career is one where I don't have to worry about money, sorta like a semi-retirement career. 

Something about creating physical spaces really draws me in.  There's this adventurous feeling in my gut, the same one that told me to jump abroad after college and teach and travel, the same one that told me I could pack all my bags and transition to UX here.  I'm at the very beginning of trying to figure this all out, and all I have to go on is a gut feeling, but it's that same gut feeling I've listened to in my life that's guided me.   

I'm a free spirit in terms of following my curiosity in life, but I'm also a planner. So I started doing research on architecture.  And boy.  Googling around, there's plenty of people transitioning from architecture to UX, but not so much the other way around. There's a lot of cons, from the workload, the the stress, to the finances, to how education can be creative and conceptual but totally does not reflect the day-to-day drudgery, especially as a new graduate.  I hear you people say, "you only do it if you love it".

Well, HOW did you know you loved it (or not love it)? Was it after taking some drafting classes in hs? Did you read a book? Did you only know you hated architecture after trying to survive as an intern for 2 years after college doing trash chutes and bathrooms?  Tell me the story of how you knew it was for you, or not for you, or the story of your friend.  Tell me all the doubts that still haunt you.

I'm looking for actions I can take in these 3-4 years to explore architecture more to know whether it is right for me.  I've ordered Francis Ching's Intro to Architecture.  I've done some research and saw that a university nearby has an ID/IA certificate program that can allow me to dip my toes in some classes.  Any advise from second career architects, on taking classes in college while working to just get your feet wet would be useful.  Any ways I can determine what I could like in terms of Architecture, IA, ID, Landscape, etc. would be helpful. 

My SO who works as an industrial designer in a small architecture firm is willing to ask to see if there's anyway I can shadow someone.  I guess I would want to go into it with questions to ask, so if you guys could help me develop some to gain deeper insights, that would be great.

Thank you in advance. It's a lovely community you have here.

 
Apr 29, 21 1:36 pm
atelier nobody

It sounds like you're already pretty much doing the right things.

Spend some time searching past discussions on this forum - this isn't the first time this question has come up, so there's some excellent advice (as well as some disgruntled naysayers) to be found.

A good book to read is: Lewis, Roger K. Architect? A Candid Guide to the Profession. 3rd ed., MIT Press, 2013.

The biggest mistake people make going into architecture is believing it's all this:

 Sketches | AmazingArchitecture

When most of the real work we do is more like this:GARBAGE CHUTE - Kapella Chutes | Trash chute, Chute, Apartment floor plans

To be a good architect (IMNSHO), you need to be turned on by how buildings actually go together, even if you're fortunate enough to be one of the few that gets to do nothing but "big picture" design and have subordinates to do all your detailing for you.

Apr 29, 21 2:16 pm  · 
9  · 
atelier nobody

Oh, and to answer your question directly: I had no idea how much I would love architecture before entering the field. I was pretty sure from HS drafting that being a draftsman would be less soul-sucking than what I was doing (my previous "careers" were in credit/collections and fast-food management), even if less remunerative (which actually turned out to wrong - my first drafting job paid the same as fast-food management).

Apr 29, 21 2:22 pm  · 
1  · 
az0116

Thanks for the book recommendation and taking the time to add in illustrations to your post =) I ordered the book. I find it interesting that you had a drafting class in high school; what did you do in that class? I had no such exposure to even the existence of draftsmanship.

Apr 29, 21 6:10 pm  · 
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randomised

That brick hatch gives me a proper headache.

Apr 29, 21 6:53 pm  · 
3  · 
midlander

i love it, reminds me of super mario brothers

Apr 29, 21 9:48 pm  · 
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newguy

I saw the first image, and immediately thought the second (more realistic) second image was going to be something along the lines of:

Apr 29, 21 10:31 pm  · 
4  · 
natematt

Whoever aligned (or rather didn't) those numbers on that section needs to be talked to...

May 3, 21 1:26 am  · 
2  · 
citizen

Food for thought, and a drum I beat fairly often around here:  you don't have to become an architect to love architecture and find fun ways to engage with it.  Lectures, exhibitions, sketching, painting, tours, classes, organizations, preservation... the list goes on.

Apr 29, 21 4:24 pm  · 
5  · 
az0116

I totally appreciate that. I do think those are all things I should do before I actually try to engage in it as a career. Exhibitions an lectures are a great suggestion. Thank you.

Apr 29, 21 6:11 pm  · 
1  · 
midlander

my thoughts:


1. architecture is really hard. being good at it is hard, but being mediocre is even worse. you won't know where you fall until you're pretty far into your education. you will continue learning during work  (probably even learn more) but young architects tend to struggle to find a niche where the work is at a level they can handle yet complex enough to be engaging. often you're either bored or overwhelmed.


2. the work consists of meetings, reporting to committees, reviewing documents, drawing complicated ordinary things, or making 3d models under time pressure. i don't think anyone actually enjoys the work in itself, though most of us become habituated to certain things which are time consuming but relaxing. i like arranging service cores, it's kind of a puzzle solving like slow tetris.


3. it's slow. buildings take a long time to build, and in my experience only 50% of the projects you actually complete the work for (ie not competitions) will be built. my first concept to construction project finished 5 years after i started working, 10 after i started my education. based on your work history you might find this kind of progression intolerable.


fwiw i like being an architect. i'm successfully licensed, working in a large internationally oriented office, designing interesting real projects in a design-lead role, and am consistently busy. i considered dropping out during college but stuck through and was much happier working.


but i often wonder if the grass is greener somewhere else, if instead of being a well-paid mid level employee i'd be rich if i'd started a business, or writing engaging thoughtful commentary if i'd gone into academia.


i think for your case you should consider why you want to be an architect. if it's because you want to get buildings built and have some sense of vision to follow, you'll find it worthwhile. if not, but you enjoy talking and thinking about architecture and like academics you'll find roles too. but if you're looking for pleasure in the work itself look elsewhere, this isn't the romantic work life of a painter or writer .

Apr 29, 21 8:26 pm  · 
4  · 
midlander

on the question of how i knew i wanted to be an architect: i have no idea. i never seriously considered anything else. my parents were not college educated and had little guidance to offer when i made up my mind in high school to pursue this, other than keeping debt low and doing what's interesting to me. i wasn't happy in school and talked about dropping out but my parents encouraged me to stick through and see what i felt after graduating - their advice worked for me. since then i've never looked back - there is always something in the field i want to pursue. i guess for the op the obverse question is important too: how do you know UX design isn't for you?

Apr 29, 21 9:54 pm  · 
1  · 
zonker

I too was from animation and I was also in video games before I changed careers to architecture - after graduation, it was skycrapers, and lots of fun big picture stuff - then the recession of 09' after that, it was a long slog of "latrine and garbage detail duty" until I was back in design. Architecture is a marathon not a sprint. As a long term career, you can't beat it. 

Apr 29, 21 8:28 pm  · 
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midlander

welcome back xenakis ;) glad to read your more positive outlook on the career now

Apr 29, 21 9:43 pm  · 
1  · 
zonker

"For years I was tormented by guilt at having left the country for which I'd fought. I left my friends—some were in prison, others were dead, some managed to escape. I felt I was in debt to them and that I had to repay that debt. And I felt I had a mission. I had to do something important to regain the right to live. It wasn't just a question of music—it was something much more significant" Iannis Xenakis, 1947 - But working for free for Le Corbusier?

Apr 30, 21 12:34 am  · 
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randomised

I love what architecture can be and hate what it usually is.

Apr 30, 21 6:54 am  · 
1  · 
zonker

Many are driven by the possibility of what it can be - that's what drives Jean Gang, Elizabeth Diller, Bjarke Ingels and others. I think the vast majority of us tend to get caught up too much in the day to day, rather than what is possible. I create my own projects on the side to explore possibilities - why wait, just do it

Apr 30, 21 2:56 pm  · 
1  · 
randomised

I’ve decided to do some competitions on the side and am trying to get into academia in either Asia or NY...

May 1, 21 3:13 pm  · 
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flatroof

I like buildings and how they got put together but now that I live with roommates when my peers in other careers have McMansions and summer cabins, I propose we switch careers. The fact that it's a "retirement job" really says it all about the profession. 

Apr 30, 21 3:32 pm  · 
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zonker

except that retired people sleep in and go to bed at 8pm, architects get up early and work late well past 8pm

Apr 30, 21 4:30 pm  · 
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randomised

I get up early because my kids get up just after 6am, and I work past 8pm because that’s when I can get some work done since that’s when my kids have gone to bed ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

May 1, 21 3:09 pm  · 
1  · 
Abie

I grew up watching TV shows about designing homes and playing The Sims. Always spent endless hours customizing my house, and the rest is history. The road to being an architect is not the simplest one, but if your passion fuels it, then it is manageable. 

May 3, 21 3:39 am  · 
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square.

i can't do this every week.

May 3, 21 9:23 am  · 
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