Unemployed? Architect graduates don't have to be Architects

my fault.

I was once unemployed, until an ex-architect  reached out and made me realized that with an education in architecture there were plenty of other fields/industries to pursue. Many provide better live/work standards.

if you're someone like me. list up what you do and help those who are struggling to find themselves in a post-architecture school world. In today's economy everyone should kiss goodbye the days of working on competitions that glorify architects/ instructors' own agendas for low/no pay.

I'm in UX.


Aug 25, 11 4:14 pm

Could you elaborate? I'm a recent grad (B.S. Arch program) pre-professional degree. What alternatives do I have? Video game environment designer? Anything related to engineering (GE is hiring around where I live).

Aug 25, 11 4:21 pm

I think a lot of people don't want to start out working in a field other than architecture, because it's often hard to jump back in.

Lets say you start off getting a job with some other type of design.  five years later (hopefully) the economy has improved and you want to do architecture.  Now your resume has no architecture experience.

I've heard of this situation happening to people who are in other fields as well - graduate with a computer science degree, but work in something else, and then its impossible to find a computer science job because you don't have the experience for it.

It's tough times, though, and people have to eat. 

Aug 25, 11 5:27 pm

Just out of school I waited tables in some very swanky restaurants, making more money in 25 hours/week than I would earn full-time in architecture for another few years.

Days were spent at the beach, nights were spent hauling steaks and salmon tartare to celebrities.  After four years I was ready to blow my brains out, but until then it was a great gig... learning about good food and wine.  If you get the opportunity, that's one of the better ways to spend ages 23 through 26, in my opinion.

Aug 25, 11 5:33 pm
my fault.

calculator, thats true. to an extent.

i know a few architecture graduates who went into brand design/ strategy and entered back into the architecture industry as project managers or marketing managers for architecture firms.  yea, they might not be doing cad drawings, but if it's one thing they do have its a sense of business and marketing which most architects struggle with.

i recently spoke with my instructors about my decision to get into the ux industry and they said that i'll have no problem re-entering into the architecture industry, only that I'll be working on the more business/planning side of things and obviously not a designer. the option is still there, but i'll always be making twice as than what I would than if i stayed in a regular architecture firm. (working twice as less too.. and to be honest i know from the start i wasnt  going to be a starchitect. )

Aug 25, 11 9:03 pm

what is ux?

Aug 25, 11 10:42 pm

"what is ux?"

Kid friendly way of saying corporate whore.

Aug 25, 11 10:51 pm
wurdan freo

Architects are pretty much high-class whores. We can turn down projects the way they can turn down some clients, but we've both got to say yes to someone if we want to stay in business. - Philip Johnson 

... or employed

Aug 25, 11 11:05 pm

That kind of make most employees whores...

Aug 25, 11 11:21 pm

bzzzt. both wurdan and ryan miss the point.

Most architecture has intrinsic value.  As shelter from elements if nothing else.

Doing ux (whatever that even means) is developing video games for people who hate videogames. 

Aug 25, 11 11:37 pm
my fault.

Rusty, your ignorance is not worth answering, but its okay.. i'll still try..

ux can be found at...


corporate whore? ux? what about architects? you guys are whore to all types people, industries, if not your own.

Aug 26, 11 10:11 am



Aug 26, 11 11:00 am

I think that architects who go into interface design are professionally no different than those that go into interior decoration.


Matrix-style virtual reality is where its at for architects

Aug 26, 11 11:07 am

victimeyes,  you just made me smile.

Many architecture schools these days should just learn not to be afraid to say, "Hey, if you don't want to be an architect, that's fine.  There's other opportunities."

Aug 26, 11 7:51 pm

An Architecture education teaches you how to solve problems (with an obvious emphasis on the built environment). The skill set of defining a problem, designing a solution, and then  implementing the solution is highly transferable to other careers. 

Aug 26, 11 8:16 pm

Just one more thing victimeyes.  Got any tips on trying to get into UX?  Your talking to another m.arch grad who's currently unemployed.  PM me at, thanks.

Aug 26, 11 8:43 pm

User experience, yes?  UX.

What Hugh said.  You can solve all kinds of problems, logistical, functional, cultural, etc. - with a degree in architecture.  And I agree with OP17 - schools should tell students to be optimistic about the possibility of not working in a traditional firm.  There are lots of options.

Aug 26, 11 10:58 pm

bzzzt  Hugh Goblin and Donna Sink. you missed the point.

"...defining a problem, designing a solution, and then  implementing the solution..."

You just described Aushwitz.

Surely there's more to us than that. Yes, architects take crappy gigs to make do, but they roll their eyes at the demeaning work. We've all been there. The payoff is working on better projects eventually.

I fail to see any social contribution in UX.

If you started off trying to become an architect and ended up doing ux, you didn't fail at architecture. You failed at life.


Aug 27, 11 12:39 am

"If you started off trying to become an architect and ended up doing ux, you didn't fail at architecture. You failed at life."

I'm not sure if this was a joke but I'd call that adjusting. There is another example of an architect moving to UX in the "Out of the Box" section. It is the survival of the fittest and these days nothing is certain. You gotta be flexible. You're right about the lack of social contribution but if a career seems to be a dead end then it is a smart move moving to greener pastures. Also, social contribution is possible whatever field you're in, if you use your imagination.

Aug 27, 11 5:57 am

Not sure if that is a joke or not either (we do know the source, after all).  I'd say, given that, that most architects fail.  Look around us, it is mostly banal crap.  Sure, it serves a purpose, just like that aluminum can that held my veggies last night, but boring as hell and fairly unattractive.

No, I don't look around and see inspiration or excitement, or even passion.  I see a bunch of go-to-work-turn-out-the-same-crap "solutions" built around us.  

So, especially if you look at the aspirations of many a young architect, it is all "failure".


Now, getting back to user interface, etc., I would suggest that you look at the attention a good, well designed website or interface gets.  Think about iOS.  That interface has changed how the world interacts.  Even things WordPress have a far more significant impact on our world, and the future, than 99.99% of the buildings out there.

While seemingly temporary and always in flux, the interactive world reaches so many people, so quickly, that it simply cannot be dismissed as insignificant.


I am someone that enjoys contributing to all things design - buildings, websites, interfaces, graphics, photography, etc., etc.  Buildings are grand and outlast all of us, but rarely are they anything to look twice at.  At least with the faster marketing world, you can create things that you do like.  And hey, if it really does suck, it'll be gone in a year anyway, leaving room for something better.  Good luck getting rid of that $50million hunk of crap!

Aug 27, 11 8:50 am

Hey paradox and trace! what's up my homies!

I too can't tell if I was joking or not. It's hard being me.

Lately I'm on a kick that architects are at their most useful if they consider themselves as public servants. But opposite of bureaucrats. We fight the good fight on case by case basis. Our victories may appear invisible, but they eventually add up to somethin' tangible.   

"UX" just doesn't fit into this scheme at all. It's a field with very limited opportunity for pure designers. I don't understand how you could be a proficient UX designer without also being proficient at a number of programming languages. (like being an architect who doesn't know how a building comes together) Maybe a large, corporate environment (that compartmentalizes labor) would hire an architect to do UX. In that case you will never work for yourself. It just seems like a huge step backwards.

Kind of like getting a medical degree and becoming a nutritionist at the local heath club. It's an insult to doctors AND nutritionists. 

Aug 27, 11 9:53 am

Here's an example,

victimeyes, at some point called me ignorant and then proceeded to post a bunch of links. 

Not a single one of those links works since he failed to negotiate a simple 5 button interface of archinect. 

Would you let such UX champion to even come within 5 feet of your design, let alone hire them?

Aug 27, 11 10:04 am

"Architects can be anything"
is a slogan being used by architecture schools to keep their admissions rates up

Aug 27, 11 10:14 am

Rusty - we'll disagree then, as I don't think you need to be a jack of all trades (master of nothing) in any profession.  To the contrary, I think architecture will continue to isolate talents vs. trying to cram everything down one person's throat, then expecting them to design a competition winning design after detailing bathrooms for years.  

Architecture could/should learn from other professions.  You simply cannot excel at everything, some are just better than others at different things.  

Imho, for architecture to rise out of its gradual demise, you will have to promote people for what they are good at/desire to do, not lump everyone together.


Having worked with numerous programmers for our projects I can assure you that you don't need to know how to program to design well, nor do you have to design well to be an exceptional programmer.  Allowing each to flourish and you raise the value of both, which creates more efficiency and promotes learning, and it also helps to create a happier person (many happy architects?).  Also, this creates value, which commands more payment for the skills (whereas architects are all lumped together as the same and continue to reduce their pay).



Aug 27, 11 10:31 am

Not a single one of those links works since he failed to negotiate a simple 5 button interface of archinect. 

OK, this is pretty damn funny, except that half the links did work (for me - on Safari if that makes a difference, though I expect that fact that I don't know whether it does or not betrays my absolute ignorance of UX.  Onward...).

Architects can be anything as a slogan to keep admission up: perhaps true, and perhaps not bad.  I think the problem in schools is the typical grinding into students' brains - brainwashing, in a way - the idea that architecture is The One True Calling and if you don't succeed in a narrowly defined implementation of it you're A Failure At Life.  If we as a profession have to look down on other choices to make ourselves feel good about our own choices *that* is failing at life.

As to keeping admissions up, is it a bad thing, for anyone, to have the world more densely populated by people who give a damn about how we house ourselves, and how our built environment looks and functions?

Aug 27, 11 10:34 am

Architects can't be anything. People formerly known as architects can.

(I work in another industry, but must keep the architectureness at home.)

Aug 27, 11 10:38 am
my fault.

rusty! you're missing the point, but i don't really need to sit here and explain to you the abc and 123s of how architecture education can be relevant to other fields, neither do i have the time. 

either way, whatever your "real" complaint is.. i'm probably happier than you are at what I'm doing, so maybe that's your true insecurity/dilemma. 

on top of that, your posts alone proves your arrogance/stupidity for me . keep it going, you're doing well...

Aug 27, 11 10:46 am

Interesting point about admissions...almost ironic that it could be used as a marketing ploy when there is so little marketing/business taught!


Aug 27, 11 11:11 am

OK, great responses from everyone.(except victimeyes, of course) This is why I love Archinect. 

What fundamentally bugs me, I guess... is that formal education in architecture is a post-industrial invention. AND kind of outdated at this point.

There's nothing wrong with doing UX, unless you wasted 7 years in studying architecture. 

If architectural education arms you with these amazing critical thinking skills (and I think it does) why can't these skills be simplified into a general design curriculum? You do 4 years of general post-industrial design, and then you do 1 year of specialization, be that architecture, or UX, or kitchen appliance design, or whatever. That way you can have tangible flexibility. Hate designing kitchen appliances? Go back to school for one year and chase that architectural dream.

The way things stand, architecture students are ill prepared to do anything, let alone UX.

I blame all of this on victimeyes, of course :) 

Aug 27, 11 11:59 am

I totally agree with your last post, rusty.  Architecture education really does need an overhaul.  Which in part is why I teach my ProPractice students how to market their Tshirt design skills.

Aug 27, 11 2:26 pm

met a guy at a conference a few weeks ago who sells shirts.

actually he sells carbon credits and the shirts are the certificate of authenticity.  he realised people who were buying carbon offset credits were bored by the same old seal of approval on a piece of paper (which is in the end what he really is selling), so decided to sell a t-shirt with the same information and a snazzy design.  suddenly people could be smug walking around with their carbon cred on their backs and the dude started selling like mad, became way busy and had to change his business model to accommodate runaway success.

he wasn't/isn't an architect.  what he was/is is bloody clever.

not sure where this all goes except that UX people and t-short making people come from any education, whereas architects go to architecture school and by that time are so design-oriented they probably think the t-shirt design is about the design.  when actually its about selling carbon offsets. 

that is the problem with architectural thinking.  it lures us into thinking we are designers first and human beings second and we never come up with socially creative goods.  would be nice to hear about a program that allows architects to learn that design is not the point of design after all.

sure architects can do all kinds of things.  if ANY job is the end goal then see no need to revamp education because it is just a crapshoot and people will find their own way.  if we want to reveamp in order to make people think differently about why they are designing then there is something worth talking about.

Aug 27, 11 6:49 pm
job job

question to victimeyes

When did UI become UX - is there a difference? From what I can see, UX is somehow making marketable an interface for better sales or profitability. 

For example, someone at Archinect is figuring out through drupal or something else how to maintain over a decade of comments, posts, items etc. Certainly I've contributed a lot of things - good and mostly bad - that are quickly retrievable. In my mind, a UX designer comes along, and decides that users like the colour orange, so all text fields will be orange. Green can be environmentally-minded, but it can also confer illness. Blue is like the sky, and also about the clinical and clean (don't believe me - what's up with maxipad commercials?). 

So while Human-Machine-Interfaces were compelling, art-rock creations, UX has come along and codified/classified 'experience' in an effort to ensure a muzak-like likability and profitability. A final, glossy, numbing down, if you will.

Sorry if this sounds harsh - it's what I've been able to glean about UX, and am happy to reform my opinion.

Aug 27, 11 7:35 pm

"I fail to see any social contribution in UX." This underlines your ignorance about the world in general, rusty. I would argue the other way around. There is very little, if any, social contribution in Architecture, the way it is practiced in this country.

Were you not talking in some other post, a few months back about picking up spec writing to make some money on the side?

Aug 28, 11 9:00 pm

"This underlines your ignorance about the world in general, rusty"

Well, that just may be the case, but why so angry? Why is this topic giving you the butthurt? 

The talking point that architectural education prepares you for all kinds of awesome careers is a big fat lie. It used to be advertising in the '90's. Now it's UX. Tens of thousands of unemployed architects are a living proof that lateral career move is a lot harder than advertised. 

You are also wrong on your second point. 20th century American culture (that includes architecture) has been one of the hottest international exports of all time. We are now openly rejecting it, but that doesn't make it any less successful.

"Were you not talking in some other post, a few months back about picking up spec writing to make some money on the side?"

That's mee! Specs still account for about 20% of my income. It used to be 100% at some point. What is YOUR point?

even for a doctor, you're being overly cranky :)

Aug 28, 11 9:23 pm

getting excited about an interface is like getting excited about a font

Aug 28, 11 10:16 pm

There is nothing wrong with career change. But if one day it becomes the norm for architecture students to switch into other fields upon graduation, then I say architecture has disintegrated into something else.


I really wish, that a school of architecture would encompass structural/civil engineering, real estate, construction management, and architectural design. Somebody versed in all of this would receive the degree "master builder" a Phd perhaps. If only we had such a monopoly on the built environment, something like what I thought an architect was when I was 5. Until that day comes we'll be donating our talents to other industries forever.

Aug 28, 11 11:14 pm

"getting excited about an interface is like getting excited about a font"

Helvetica Bold Oblique Sweeps Fontys

Aug 28, 11 11:52 pm
my fault.

jobjob.. ux in itself has many positions... sorry for not making it specific, but ie, my position is interaction designer.. although we do analyze and research market data/trends, we leave that heavily on the user research team and analysts.. what i do is more towards desiging the interface or point of digital interaction between human and computer..

i see where  you're coming from, but i could argue the same about the buildings that are being designed and constructed today... ie: Freedom Tower, WTC..."a numbing down if you will"

ftb i don't think it's so much a disintegration but a broadening of the field to encompass more

shuellmi ... yet so many more ppl get excited over those two things in their daily lives than the apartment that they live in... ( you do own a computer, smartphone, or ipad don't you?)


i'm sure i'll  hear everyones nit-picking arguement regarding the digital age and its relation to architecture, but no matter how much you guys fight it, there will always be a relevance of interaction design and ux in this world. it's only been a 10 years since this design industry really took off, but it seems to be doing really well... if you own a smartphone, computer, mobile device, or an apple anything... you pretty much are already sucked into the audience of interaction design.

Aug 29, 11 10:10 am

"i'd just like to say that I'm probably making double your salary right now anyway, with double the creative input into projects in half the time you work on designing closet interiors."

Does making digital buttons day in and day out automatically make you a drooling moron, or is this a self initiative? 

Where's the "make it blinky" command?

Aug 29, 11 10:28 am

victimeyes - "broadening of the field to encompass more"
The education is broad, but there is something wrong if it becomes normal for every architecture student to go into something else upon graduation.

some of us dont plan to waste our time in architecture school in order to legitimize a path into web design/advertising

I hope you and yours remain a unique snowflakes

Aug 29, 11 10:57 am
my fault.

rusty! that's a visual design problem, interaction design relates more closely with product design.

FTB there IS something wrong. it's the lack of jobs

Aug 29, 11 11:02 am

Here is a job post for interaction designer for Google.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • MS degree in Computer Science or related field.
  • 8 years of relevant work experience, including demonstrated experience in designing usable web-based interfaces.
  • Expert HTML skills.
  • Knowledge of JavaScript for rapid prototyping purposes.
  • Strong, clean visual design sense.
  • Excellent leadership, communication and teamwork skills.

I fail to see how an architecture student is even remotely qualified for this shit.

victimeyes, do you work for some Bulgarian outfit that specializes in 'Angry Birds' knockoffs? Even the Bulgarians should ask for more...

Aug 29, 11 11:08 am

rusty! absolutely killing it.

Aug 29, 11 11:27 am
my fault.

theres many types of interaction designer.

google is totally different from places like IDEO, frogdesign, rga, hugeinc, razorfish etc

Interaction Designer from IDEO

We are seeking an interaction designer to join our New York location. Candidates should have 1-3 years of experience, supported by visualization, prototyping, and interface skills. Additionally, they should be comfortable working in multidisciplinary teams and excellent clarity and communication skills. Candidates should demonstrate an ability to work across a range of projects: product interaction, software tools, and web application. Prototyping and production skills are essential, as well as a passion for design and a point of view about your work.

Please indicate your specific roles and contributions for each project submitted as part of the portfolio. Additional areas of skills and perspectives are listed below:

Communication skills - Candidates must have strong presenting, verbal skills, written skills, and storyboarding. Additionally, successful applicants understand the value of design and brand within a design and business context.

Team skills - Successful applicants believe that better work is done through collaboration and have the ability to inspire teams through collaboration as well as direction, vision and planning. The ability to relate to individuals and nurture talent also a requirement.

Visual design sensitivity - Candidates for this position know the difference and spot the difference between good and great work and are able to nurture teams to deliver great work.

Prototyping skills - Successful applicants for this position understand that you succeed sooner by trial and experiments. Understand that prototyping can be done at many fidelities and have experience doing and leading that work. They understand that grounding ideas in concrete designs is the best way to gain learning’s and move forward.

Technical skills (craft and tool mastery) - Successful candidates must know what excellence is. They not only identify and evangelize best practices, but are able to push new boundaries and explore new territory in order to deliver innovation.

Aug 29, 11 11:40 am
my fault.



Aug 29, 11 11:42 am
my fault.

this post isn't about everyone having to go into UX/interaction design.. but for those with a bit of knowledge in the web industry and also have an architecture background it could prove to be useful.

theres obviously other fields for architects too. i totally understand that. furniture design, product design, industrial design, graphic design, construction, etc

i'm just offering one path for those who might be interested.


Aug 29, 11 11:44 am

victimeyes, that post for Interaction Designer from IDEO,

you omitted the last part. Must know how to do rapid prototyping in flash. Not a big deal, but it does take time to become expert in flash. Sounds like someone with a college diploma in graphic design would already have a leg up on you.

Here's the thing. In this economy having connections will open all kinds of doors for you. Not having connections will make things very difficult.

You clearly sound like you belong in the former camp. Your gsapp boss likes to hire other gsapp grads. Did you get this gig through a friend recommendation? 

In any case, I'm happy you are gainfully employed with work you like to do. But the conclusions you are drawing are a wee bit naive.

Aug 29, 11 12:06 pm
my fault.

rusty.. damn you're annoying....

with that said.. anyone else want to add another profession/industry for those trained in architecture school?

Aug 29, 11 12:23 pm

So you randomly applied to a place that is full of gsapp grads (you said so yourself) and miraculously got an internship out of it.

Someone give this man a lollypop.


Also, the purpose of this thread has long shifted into seeing how many hissy-fits you can throw.

Perhaps prospective gsapp students can also find out here that they are better off getting a label maker in lieu of a laptop.


Aug 29, 11 12:51 pm

This thread is hilarious and wonderful.  I - gasp! - am actually learning from it!

But as victimeyes asked, what other areas are there where arch grads can find jobs?

When I'm cranking cad at 2am for a meeting at 8, and I'm the sole prop so no one else is around to do this work, I dream of a cushy 9-5 fully-benefitted job in the Facilities Management department of a large institution.

Aug 29, 11 12:56 pm

I am an architect / practicing architecture, and was trained in architecture school :)

Aug 29, 11 12:58 pm

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