Too Old To Be an Architecture Grad Student?


despite my initial urges to be defensive in this discussion, i agree that firetruck's generalizations are probably close to the mark, if not spot on, regarding the numbers of "successful" late-beginners (i use quotes to delineate reknown, artistic achievement, tons of commissions, etc).

but generalizations are just that...a numbers game, and from what i've seen/read/heard here and elsewhere, if everyone who was trying to determine whether or not they should become architects did so by playing the numbers game, there wouldn't be any architects.

Dec 2, 06 12:17 am

i understand that firetruck is trying to play the stir it up's just that his arguments don't negate the other...that's all...

Dec 2, 06 1:59 am
Lookout Kid

I finished my M.Arch when I was 29 without much prior experience, and I was definitely too old in many ways... Be prepared to work in an office where people younger than you will be your boss, your "peers" at work will all be 23 and wanting to party, and you'll lack the will to pull the 70 hour work weeks expected of entry-level architects (do you really want to do this when you're forty?). And then there's the cost... Lot's of money to pay tuition (and perhaps debt) with little economic reward for the degree. Don't do it!

Dec 12, 06 12:20 am

Doing it.

Dec 12, 06 12:46 am
Lookout Kid

And right on comment 666 for you? An Omen?

I'm in my mid thirties, and if someone told me I would have to do it all over again to still be an architect, there is no way I would go through it all again.

Dec 12, 06 12:51 am

Mid Thirties, working for firms for two years, (had been an art director and creative director in the corporate design world)...a boss is a boss...I feel for your situation, but its yours, not mine.

Dec 12, 06 12:54 am

just a number my friend.

Dec 12, 06 12:55 am

We all know that architects don't make much money but its not like we get paid slave wages either. If you are in architecture for the economic reward then you picked the wrong profession. But if you have a passion for what you are doing then money isn't much of an issue.

Dec 12, 06 1:03 am

Firetruck, Of course , there will always be more efficient robots...everyone suffers from the same syndrom...sooner or later.
"If there had been a computer in 1872, it would have predicted that by now there would be so many horse-drawn vehicles that the entire surface of the Earth would be 10 feet deep in horse manure." The same logical phallacy applies here, in reference to "happiness and Architecture."
You can take Firetrucks approach, linear, cold, bleak....or you can just remember that it is a very good time be in design school, it is more interesting than ever, ....and however many years of experience you have, only allow you to appreciate it more. Everyone has to compete with a better younger or wiser robot at some point...but that is not the point. okay too much philosophy..back to the portfolio.

Dec 12, 06 1:09 am

someone was like 62 in a year above me in undergrad...he died one night on his desk and we found his body the next morning...seriously

Dec 12, 06 1:11 am

i can think of much worse ways to die.

Dec 12, 06 1:24 am
Lookout Kid

Devil devil scary scary!

My situation isn't terrible--I work on great projects at a well-respected firm and have six years of experience there--but I don't think it makes sense to start into the architecture profession when you're older. I realize why architecture sounds so great to people who are reconsidering their career, but it really does take a long time to get off your feet. Honestly, I think a person would be better off starting Medical School... The schooling takes longer, but at the end of it all you're a doctor just like the guy ten years older than you. It takes at least ten years of experience to really be a decent architect, and most don't hit their stride until late middle age.

I just wanted to balance the discussion a bit... Encouragement is great, but it's a tough road ahead my friend!

Dec 12, 06 1:53 am

People get degrees for all sorts of reasons. Who said anyone is becoming licensed or working in a firm...hell, someone could go make movies after they get a design degree.

The question is, is there an age that it is too old to do something you want to do? answer is no...unless you are to afraid to live for what you want.

Life is a tough road.

Dec 12, 06 1:58 am
vado retro

when i started my grad arch degree in a program for those with non arch undergrads, i'd say a third of the group were either married or living with someone. in probably two years time, only one of those persons was still with the person they were with at the beginning of the program.

Dec 12, 06 9:00 am

I am confident that any time I lost beginning will be wrestled back with modern medicine.

Dec 12, 06 12:23 pm

It's ludicrous to hear that some have an issue with age when today's retirement in America is 62+. So someone starts an architecture career in their thirties – so what? That person has 30+ years to prove themselves and they probably won't be as burned out at retirement time as some of the other folks that have been at it for an additional 10+ years. And if you can't prove yourself in the 30+ year time frame, well, what can I say - shame on you.

Dec 12, 06 10:04 pm

Or you could be like Phillip Johnson and work till the day you die cause you love architecture. He was 98.

Dec 12, 06 10:32 pm
vado retro

or you could be a greeter at wal mart!!!

Dec 12, 06 10:35 pm


re: your issue w/ age:

in most of the european schools, people finish up much later than their u.s. equivelants. by your logic, there should be more hot shit architects in america since we have more time. i think you'll find this isn't the case.

i also went to school stateside with a guy that completed b. arch at 35, after 3 years, he is running major projects for a major player in the NL.

also, if you are only getting into architecture to become famous and have sex with interns, well... you'll probably end up like peter cook.

Dec 12, 06 10:43 pm
Katze I am!!!

Dec 12, 06 10:51 pm

...or Thom Mayne, I heard....wait, that greeter looks alot like him...(maybe he sleeps around with the cashiers)

Dec 13, 06 2:32 am

As a 37 year old mechanical engineer who moved into project management. I find this whole argument rather amusing, I've had a life long interest in architecture; I have been reading everything I find interesting for over twenty years and realised years ago that most architects spend their years in commercial practices specifying doors and cladding materials.
I've run many projects where the "poor architect" has had the most tedious role. If it's what you want to do, as they say "just do it" at any age, if it's just an interest, do something that can support and challenge you and spend your time following the "high points" of architecture.

Dec 14, 06 7:23 am

"Shame on you"

Uh.. Ok? Does this mean you're that insecure?

By my logic, spending more time in architecture would make you a better architect. You could squander that time or make great use of it and let architecture into your blood.

Someone that starts are career in their 30's is a loser in my book. There I said it.

Dec 14, 06 12:45 pm

firetruck you're an idi*t. There, I said it.

Dec 14, 06 1:01 pm

Dang. Rick Joy is a loser. Frank Gehry is a loser. You know, I understand what you are trying to say but things don't work that way. There isn't a science to everything and your "logic" doesn't take into account past experiences, natural talent, drive, passion and all the other unmeasurable things. To sum up your "logic" you are basically saying that if someone has practiced architecture for 40 years and I have practiced architecture for 30 years then it is "logically" impossible for me to be a better architect then the 40 year guy. Maybe I'm just crazy but that sounds rediculous and down right retarded to even suggest.

Dec 14, 06 1:06 pm

Firetruck - Is your name a subtle hint at your future career? By my logic if you start now you could be the best fireman in the world.

Dec 14, 06 1:11 pm
miss casual

this thread is idiotic. there i said it.

of course no one is ever 'too old' to go back to school and do something else. and if anyone is going to let the fear that they will be an inferior architect if they dont practice for 80 years deter them then they obviously werent too into it in the first place.

im trying to think about how old i will be when i ditch architecture for something else.

Dec 14, 06 1:12 pm

firetruck, post pics of your work...

there i said it.

Dec 14, 06 1:22 pm

Ironic isn't it, since I'm such the fire starter. By the way, I'm a plumber.

Dec 14, 06 1:26 pm

post pics of your work...

Dec 14, 06 1:26 pm

there, i said it again...

Dec 14, 06 1:27 pm
Dec 14, 06 1:29 pm

ok your work sucks...find another career...

Dec 14, 06 1:30 pm

Whee, architects are such morons.

Dec 14, 06 1:31 pm

i went to architecture school cause eisenman and flw were both *ucking pimps, man!

Dec 14, 06 4:45 pm

..Shame on you…

"Uh.. Ok? Does this mean you're that insecure?"

Huh??? Does this mean that I am insecure? Please, far from it. I am simply stating that it would be a disgrace if an Architect could not achieve their goals in 30 (rather than 40) years.

You are socially challenged.

Dec 14, 06 6:03 pm

I think this thread needs a little Sunscreen…

Dec 14, 06 6:13 pm

You're never too old until you're dead...
Grad school debt is another story....
Why are you doing this? You've only told us what you are going to do, and not why. You want to be an architect? You may be ok with your want experience? Get a job at a firm - you'll still need that after you've accumulated a ton of school loans...not sure what ou wll learn that you cant teach yourself considering you are a 31-year-old...your professors won't be much older than you!
That's my .02

Dec 14, 06 7:28 pm

I think Firetruck is just F*cking with us...he or she obvisouly doesn't take themself as seriously as many others on these threads do...(At least it isn't a boring thread, however it lacks substance now.) Who cares if you think Architecture is about the race and the amount of time...We cannot blame you because "The Man" makes it out that way....secretly, I know what & why I do this (A-word) to myself..and frankly the A-Word doesn;t begin to describe it as for discussion on "economies of work in the design profession"...perhaps Firetruck is right, embracing the profession when your older may be tougher...what a breakthrough. I could poop out a dozen reaons why working in the field Too Early is bad as well.

"You have to work twice as hard and make up for that lost time, because I assure you there are plenty of young people, say under the age of 25, working their ass off from the beginning."

Dec 14, 06 8:43 pm



Dec 15, 06 3:04 am

I'm sorry, but if you are past your 20's and only now going to architecture school you are too late. You will never make it. Your classmates will make fun of you and call you a "wisdom giver" if they even notice you. After graduation you will never be heard from again. I am sorry but this is the hard truth. Your only hope is to keep your mundane office job and wait until the next life if there is one.

Dec 15, 06 3:51 am

I am 33 , have my own, small Residential Design LLC...but I don't call myself an (A-word),..I am only now applying to grad school, I never worked in an standard A-office(yet I have recently won awards for my work.)

In my free time I study modern design , solar, generative systems, make digital art and study what I consider to be compelling design avenues. I am free from the intern wage , 2d cad - slavery, and any cliches about age and design and office politics. I still have ways of dealing with my IDP. Granted I don;t have the exposure many nectors have at the starchitector offices, but I happen to like this foolish path I chose , so far (even if it is incredibly hard to learn the business ropes.) I think your comment is short sighted. There is more to all this than competing with younger ( perpetually) minds for wage and prestige. I assume you ( and firetruck) worked for a big firm., went to a prestigous school in your early 20s, and now are happy you are now considered a "wisdomgiver".

Dec 15, 06 12:46 pm

Well, if you hardly noticed them at school what makes you think they will call you after graduation?

Being popular isn't cool you know.

Dec 15, 06 2:09 pm

today brought a dramatic turn in my opinion. going to architecture school in your 30s might be inane. see, while firetruck would have you all believe that somehow there is a drop in ability to learn once you hit the big three ouch, an equally inane idea, i will throw this out there: the biggest issue is that you have less time to pay off these god damned ivy league loans and of course you make jack. which could be a reason to jump ship from a respected design firm and join the corporate machine, which will result in mediocrity. so, there is a way that he, i'm assuming firetruck is a man for all the obvious reasons, could be technically correct.

Dec 15, 06 3:59 pm

teleologically correct. money is the thing.
architecture is too broad for an aptitude assignment
and not analogous to learning spanish or playing the piano.

i suspect mr truck, et al are playing the fools, but let me light my wisdom giving pipe; what's more important dallasarchitect is your reaction to being told that you are too old, the electronic forum with varying degrees of sincerity and anonymity notwithstanding.

Dec 15, 06 6:16 pm

haruki – ouch you hurt my feelings. I am going to cry now. Get a life.

dallasarchitect – go for the architecture degree and kick some butt.

Dec 15, 06 10:21 pm

My mother alway tells to me story of guy who grauated from medical school when he was 90 y old. It was his whish. We live just once.

I mean he was the opportunity and money when he was retired.

Dec 21, 06 2:59 pm
viv lon

I am just coming across this post 12 year later, did you end up attending architecture school?

Sep 9, 19 12:16 pm

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