Graphic Design + Architecture?


Hey Guys,

I'm a High School Senior, and have narrowed down what i want to major in to either Graphic Design or engineering. I've self taught myself graphic design for 3-4 years now, and so I have more experience with this, and was fairly certain I'd go into graphic design. I've always been a really big fan of modern architecture, especially home design, and am now considering it to be something I might want to do as well. Is their any merit to taking a 4 year bachelor's in graphic design, and then going into a M.Arch program? I was thinking possibly 4 years of undergrad graphic design at Emily Carr, and then the M.Arch program at UBC. Would a path like this actually be useful, or would the Bachelor's in graphic design just be a waste of time? 

Thanks guys, glad to be a part of this community!

Oct 7, 12 2:18 am
Sergo Antadze

 it may be waist of time to be in 4 year program in graphic design if you are already planing to become an architect.

I myself graduated with degree in Architecture and worked as a Graphic Designer for some time, even so I was successful as a graphic designer, I always felt that I did not know everything that comes with formal education (I worked in publishing - newspapers) and felt more confident when worked in architecture, doing what I was trained to do. 

It all depends what kind of graphic designer you want to be? or what kind of architect. your graphic designer skills may be very helpful in your architectural career.

My suggestion will be to pick one from the beginning and stick to it.  

Oct 7, 12 5:50 am

Architecture is not something you can really do on the side, I would say if you are really interested in architecture you should choose that as a major and continue with your graphic design experience, and get a masters in neither, all the degrees in the world won't get you hired, but experience will, pick one thing get ur b.a and get the hell outta school and into the work force

Oct 7, 12 10:11 am

Thanks for the responses guys. I know that you couldn't really do Architecture on the side, and I was more looking at doing Graphic Design on the side instead, like freelancing while practicing Architecture (if time allows). I'm much more interested in the Architectural Design side than the technical side, but I know you need both. 

Also, I just noticed that I said I want to major in either Graphic Design or Engineering. Not sure why I typed that, I DO NOT want to major in Engineering. That should've said Architecture, I was obviously a little brain dead when I typed that. 

Oct 8, 12 8:09 pm

Hey! It's great that you are already thinking about how the design fields are related and have found this site! Both things I did not know when I began my undergrad career. When I was in college, I always said, I wish I knew the adobe suite programs before coming to architecture school, it was not something I anticipated, designing board layouts, portfolios and renderings. I feel like I had a self taught minor in graphics. You are already ahead of the curve on this. If you are trying to get into Architecture, I would say major in that for undergrad and just keep up with graphics on the side. Why try something you probably don't need formal education in, when you can challenge yourself and really learn a new field for your major? You're paying for a degree, it might as well be worth it. It's not going to be easy, don't get me wrong, but as hard as it was I always feel more satisfied knowing I achieved a B. Arch than settling into a more common major. What I love most about architecture school is how diverse of an education it really is. Good Luck!! Have fun and believe in yourself either way! 

Oct 8, 12 9:49 pm

^ what Mocha said.. you dont need to spend a whole 4 years doing Graphic design.. I think that can be learnt on your own and reading books.  You'll be at a better advantage if you already have a solid design foundation when you start arch school though.  Well.. that is why most schools require you to submit some form of entrance portfolio.  Architecture is a demanding and vast field.. Its best if you don't spend that time during arch school trying to learn or improve art skills.. you'll be at a greater advantage if you already have those skills so you can spend your valuable time learning, researching, studying topics that concern architecture beyond what is only visual

Oct 8, 12 11:11 pm

Thank you for the responses guys. Not that it applies to the intended topic, but would you say the same thing about photography? I recently came across Architectural Photography as a career, and it looks like something I would be really interested in. Would getting a bachelor's in photography be necessary, or would it work to get a B.Arch and then just take some photography classes? Would their be any merit to going 4 years undergrad in photography and then a M.Arch, or would that kind of be a waste of time, (like graphic design) ?

Thanks again guys, this is really helpful for me.

Oct 8, 12 11:24 pm

sure you could do your undergrad in any other field before taking M.Arch.  It will certainly help you if its a field in the arts or any other field infact.    Personally, if I wanted to become an architect, I couldn't justify 4 or 5 years of undergrad doing something like photography or graphic design..  I'd be more interested in taking philosophy or engineering courses.  To be honest, I could read books on topic like graphic design or photography in a week and hone skills during my own time.  I also don't want to spend $100,000 or so for tution and expenses doing something I don't plan on doingas a career. 

If your goal is to become an architectural photographer, skip architecture infact.  Just take photography and design courses.  Take architecture if you actually want to build buildings someday..  Unless you want to take it just to gain some architectural knowledge, bragging rights, or got money, energy and time to burn :)

Oct 8, 12 11:54 pm

dude, you gotta think realistic for a second, its all fun in games to be fresh out of high school and to think the world is your oyster, but really its not. Schools expensive, life's expensive, and when you get outta school you are going to need to get a job,

i mean your already on the losing side of the statistic because you love architecture and design so much ( but thats ok, we are all there)

you could probably make so much money being a graphic designer than an architect, but you can't actually be an architect without the training (which is intense and time consuming)

but now your saying you want to be an architectural photographer, there are not many jobs in i would say dont study photography either, all of your other design related interests you can learn on your own... architecture is the only one you should go to school for, because it has a very important technical aspect ... dont waste your time and money on these "design" degrees, no one can teach you how to be creative, you either have it or you dont, and the technical stuff you can teach yourself, if you are motivated enough....all you need is experience(ie. freelance or your own side projects), in the long run if your good enough no one cares what school you went to or if you went at all.., only what you are capable of producing for them.

Oct 9, 12 10:39 pm

I understand that I can't do all three, and I also understand that life is tough. I may not have experience with that, but I get that I can't just coast by and be amazing at a career without experience and knowledge. I'm just looking at some potential paths to go down, because I'm interested in design, photography, as well as architecture. Thank you for replying though, you do make some good points that I'll have to think about. 

Oct 9, 12 11:12 pm
Sergo Antadze

if you can not decide where you want to go for now, go to architecture. it will give you more skills than you need for any other design related field and later if you make up your mind you can change your major or take additional classes.

it reminds me how I felt  going to college, I chose architecture and never wanted to change it ever. hope you will fill the same.

good luck

Oct 10, 12 1:33 am

^^ I agree with Tiko-G. I just want to add some more points. I am an intern architect, I have a passion for architectural photography (I often dream of leaving to just do that) and I usually get stuck doing my firms marketing because I am good at graphics. (see I do them all, too!)

Now, if I knew I would love photography so much earlier sure I would have taken more classes in it in high school and in college.

Do you need to major in it, no.

Do you need to major in architecture to be an architect, yes.

... Should you major in architecture if you don't care about it more than anything else? no. 

You will quickly find yourself regretting this decision and being bitter the whole time. I made it through bc I knew the work would get me where I wanted to be. It was never going to be enough for me to be a photographer or graphic designer. Those are hobbies to me, but they might be someone's career, I mean that in a respectful way, its just what do you want to dedicate yourself too? 

The good news is people change their majors all of the time. If you get into architecture school you can always switch once you get there. I would recommend trying to talk to professors in the other areas once you get there and maybe you will be more drawn to their courses and departments. If I met the photography profs at my school freshman year... who knows. They were sooo nice. And I cried a lot in arch school, was stressed, missed a lot of parties and barely slept for the first 3 years. These are things to consider. 

Oct 10, 12 4:27 pm

The advantage that a graphic design major would have for you over an undergrad arch major would simply be the greater opportunity to explore options. If you're dead set on architecture, just do architecture. But if this talk about well maybe graphics, maybe photography, maybe... is an indicator that you aren't 100% sure about architecture, do something that will give you more freedom to figure it out. Some people know going into college exactly what they want to get out of it, and others don't. Architecture isn't a major for the latter type.

Oct 10, 12 5:18 pm

studied Graphic design and most of my instructors where former architects - it was on a field trip to SOM-SF to see the graphic design dept there that I decided I should have gone into architecture - I evolved from graphic design to 3D computer graphics, then studied architecture then after I received my M.arch, went to work at SOM-SF where I got the idea in the first place - only took 30 years. e.g., The advantage that a graphic design major would have for you over an undergrad arch major would simply be the greater opportunity to explore options. Which I did - 

Oct 10, 12 6:01 pm

Thank you very much guys, discussing this is helping me kind of sort things out in my head. Rationalist and Xenakis, are you saying that a graphic design major would be more beneficial and I could always get a M.Arch because that path is open? Just want to make sure I understand you guys.

Oct 10, 12 6:20 pm

The path I took was "for my steps alone" Don't do what I did - In 1975 I wanted to be an architect in the 21st century - the only way possible at the time was to spend 30 years in 3D computer graphics and parametric modeling in both flight simulation and later video games - that being said - nowadays, you can major in graphic design, get a degree in it, then study architecture in graduate 4+3 program and do it - provided you take care of your math(up through Calculus and physics along the way -no worries - lots of possibilities now

Oct 10, 12 6:38 pm

I'm just saying that architecture as a major is very one-track, requires a singular focus. If you know architecture is what you want to do, you should just do it. But if you're not sure, then you are unlikely to have the room to explore other options while you're an architecture major. I don't look at it as a better-or-worse thing, I just look at it as figuring out what's better for you. 

Oct 10, 12 8:53 pm

i strongly disagree with rationalist, about architecture school being one track,

i think its main focus is on architecture of course, but you are able to do so many things,

i learned ALOT about

graphic design - presentations

public speaking

3d modeling

physical modeling

furniture design - made several pieces of furniture as part of my curricula

wood working and CNC


water colors / acrylic / glass design



programming ( no one start the debate over this again)

all these things are architecture electives

i graduated in May and i have peers that have gone on into the fields of graphic design, fabrication, product design, 3d designers    

sounds pretty far from one track to me

Oct 11, 12 1:40 am

Hey everyone, I've been struggling with what to choose. Architecture or Graphic Design. I've been to trade school and we covered a little bit of Architecture. We did the blue prints, and built the model house out of wood that we had to cut down, and even went over the CAD program a bit. And eventually we built the actual house based off the model and blue prints. BUT, I haven't gotten any where with what I learned in trade school. Jobs have been super scarce and rejecting me left and right saying "oh you don't have enough experience" well how in the heck do I get experience if no one will give me a chance to work and learn? So someone told me to get into the architecture field by getting a degree in Graphic Design. I was told Architects kinda go over the same stuff. So it would be a "shortcut" into the field. I'd have to do online classes because I don't have the ability to be in the actual class physically, and I'm 30, so it'd be a little awkward sitting in there with kids. So I'm not sure if Graphic Design is something I should pursue. I'm afraid of not getting a job in it (Since I know the economy is still crap) and being back at square one like I am now after trade school. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Nov 17, 16 9:13 pm

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: