Junior architect income Fuksas Studio


Hey there!

Does anyone know what's the average salary for an entry level architect in Fuksas Studio in Rome? I'm interested in working with them but I've heard that many people are underpaid. What does underpaid mean in terms of numbers?


Feb 25, 13 7:42 am

Architectural salaries, if you are an American, are shockingly low in southern Europe, and I am sure interns or entry-level architects make wages upon which they cannot live well.  Of all the starchitects in Europe, his is the only one I know of where someone worked there ... not the person directly, but an ex-girlfriend of his.  She indicates that it was an experience for her boyfriend ... interesting place, no place to hang out long term.  She also added "Che brutto!" which means "He is so ugly."  There is a fairly reliable phenomenon called physiognomy.  It's what the reading of your face tells about what you are like inside.  I think that, in his case, she was implying that he is an ugly person both outside ... and in.  Think of how many architects are like that.  You can almost picture the pissy elitist architect tossing a scarf around his shoulder in a huff and with indignance at something minor that irritated him as he heads out the office door ...

Architects in the name studios in southern Europe would be paid shockingly low levels by North American, or maybe even norther European standards.

Feb 25, 13 2:34 pm

Miri, from what I've heard a few years ago: Niente!
It seems to be common practice  to work there for free for the first couple of months. That might have changed, but I wouldn't count on it. I suggest to steer clear of that place.

Oberservant-  ...pissy elitist architect tossing a scarf around his shoulder in a huff.....
Nice. Too much Lifetime movies? ^^

Feb 25, 13 3:47 pm

Oberservant-  ...pissy elitist architect tossing a scarf around his shoulder in a huff.....
Nice. Too much Lifetime movies? ^^

Not at all.  I've never seen a movie with an architect as a protagonist (no "Fountainhead," no "Belly of an Architect").  Have seen it in students who thought they were design gods, professors, school administrators, visiting architects who came to talk, and some urban architects in practice.  In my opinion, one such person I've seen give a presentation and who was cavalier to fielding questions was Ralph Johnson of P&W.  You designed a building, sir.  You didn't invent a more effective heart valve.  Let's get our priorities in order.

I like your answer "Niente!"  That's even worse than "Un poco."

Feb 25, 13 4:00 pm

Thanks for answering back! I've heard he pays less than Northern European standards but I was curious whether it's enough for you to fully sustain yourself financially or not.

"Niente" sounds pretty shocking indeed...

Any suggestions of other Italian architects that do pay something, or it's bad all over Italy?

Feb 25, 13 4:07 pm

I don't know where they all are.  Renzo Piano is in Geno(v)a.  Several others are in Milan.  Are you in North America?  Why do you want to work in Italy?  Their economy is in the toilet.

Feb 25, 13 4:15 pm

Nope, I'm not in North America. I'm currently in Germany and I got fed up with it so I thought of making a move to a more Southern country with a different life style, architecture and more sun :)

Feb 25, 13 4:23 pm

Well, I can't blame you for the lifestyle and more sun found in the Med, but I'm not so sure about the job situation.  Are you European?  Why don't you move to the U.S., that is, if you are originally from here?

Feb 25, 13 4:31 pm

Hello, I am Italian and I can assure you guys that architects, designers, and in general young people (and in Italy you stay 'young' until 40) are paid ridicolously bad. The most part of the architects assume you will work for free, just for the glory and the 'great opportunity' to work at their place.

There are some exceptions, of course. But in general people - especially in the creative and art field - will pay you a ridicolous amount of money, or not pay you at all.

A friend of mine graduated last year with an MA in Architecture; he begun an internship in an architecture firm near Milan and they were paying him 300 euros a month. I couldn't believe he was accepting those conditions.
While I was studying, I was working in a design studio on a professional level, also on big projects, half time, and they were paying me 500 euros a month, and they were claiming was a luxury salary for a young person like me - not to mention that they will never, ever pay you extra-time, travelling, lunch, trasportation or anything. A classical answer by Italians is 'I can find another that replaces you in 5 minutes'. I left after a while - was simply impossible to live at those conditions.

I strongly suggest to:
- not come and work in Italy in the first place (sadly)
- if you are strongly interested in coming to Italy and work as an intern, do not accept offers that don't allow you to live with dignity. The problem in Italy are not only people OFFERING these bad salaries, but most of all the people ACCEPTING them and contributing to this bad habit.

I am very sorry to give you such a bad picture of Italy, but sadly this is our reality now. No wonder the country is totally in the shit after 20 years like this.
Now I live in Denmark and I am happy.


Feb 26, 13 10:59 am


How many Euros per month in France, Germany, and Scandinavia?

Feb 26, 13 11:02 am

observant: I have not been living in France or Germany, so I can't tell. I just moved to Denmark, and as far as I can understand in Scandinavia salaries are pretty high once you are graduated, and internships can be 1) unpaid (rare) 2) paid something in between 300-500 euros/month 3) paid according to your experience/skills/tasks.
If you are an intern, though, you are usually also a student, so you are getting student's loan/benefits in the meantime.
Also, the big difference with Italy is that in Scandinavia, if the position is unpaid, they usually give you some other benefit - i.e. accomodation, transportation, food, etc. They don't just ASSUME that you will survive without money somehow, as it happens in Italy.
And another thing to say is that in Scandinavia internships are conceived only for young or just graduated people (as they should always be). In Italy you can be an intern even if you are 35, quite depressing.

Feb 26, 13 12:02 pm

This is a very useful thread for a lot of people. 

Feb 26, 13 12:29 pm

Why is there such an obsession with chasing down the studio of a starchitect in Europe, even from Americans who go overseas?  I doubt many people will get experience that is markedly different, and won't have a say in what a great new church or civic center looks like.  Doesn't Europe have studios where they specialize in health care, institutional work, and whatnot where everyone is NOT banging down their door?  In the US, the hiring at firms with a large but conventional work base is also more "conventional," as is the pay, the benefits, and other aspects.  Similarly, American starchitects do not offer the best work environments to new people.  I know that one big problem in southern Europe is that large vapid apartment residences are not designed by architects, but "geometri," or paraprofessionals.  Correct me if I'm wrong.  In the US, one could not build such condo blocks without an architect's stamp.

Feb 26, 13 2:56 pm

As said before, if you are really lucky (1% of cases)  you will be paid 1200, if you are lucky enough ( 19% of cases) you will be paid between 500-800. If not, like the majority of architects, you will be payed between 0-300 euro plus a lot  prestige in getting a work (sarcasm).

All of this does not included all the exspenses, like registration board (is a must if you wanna be recognize as an architect, as least for Italians,) .

We are almost 150000 Architect in Italy...

Seriously, if you wanna work in Italy is better you consider some other job, maybe waiter ...

Feb 26, 13 5:54 pm

^ Simone:

That many, in Italy?  I don't even believe there are that many in the U.S.A..  Is that 150,000 with a "timbro" (stamp)?  While on vacation, I was having a long discussion with a guy trained as an architect at Reggio Calabria (no comments, please) who saw the realities of practicing, and chose to be an educator in the school system over there.  He said he does not regret it.  Like most people who later may not practice in the traditional manner, they are happy to have studied architecture.  It at least gets it out of their systems and they don't have to wonder if they could have, or could not have, done it.

Feb 26, 13 6:38 pm

Yes, in the 2010 the number of architect with legal autorization (stamp, because you have a stamp to put on the project you do....) was around 136 000 but now is aorund 150 000 i think. All this not counting all the people graduated in Architecture...

In Spain i think the number is around 80 000 and in Germany 110 000...

Feb 26, 13 8:30 pm

I was on vacation and, the one time I've been to Torino, I was walking through their university architecture school and met "un docente," which I guess is an adjunct.  He told me that there were 4,000 enrolled.  Tanti!  In the U.S., even within a large school, an enrollment of 700 to 900 students in architecture, across all degree programs, is high.  In California, the board's website indicates 22,000 licensed architects.

Feb 26, 13 8:53 pm

its baddd... I mean i've interned at many firms in the US as a student and made no less than $3000/month (in addition to company perks like transportation money, free lunches atleast twice a week, paid certification for LEED etc), compare that to the internship I did in Europe where I got paid a measly $400/month and no other perks whatsoever (which was higher than what my classmates were getting paid or not being paid at all) xD

Feb 26, 13 9:18 pm

Observant, a "docente" is a professor. I've studied in Florence, and we were thousand. And Florence count "only" 5000 registered Architects. The state of Architecture in Italy is something crazy. I can write a Book above it.  Actually i can write a lot of all the crazy thing happening in Italy.  As accesskb said 400 montly is a "good stipend... where did you intern accesskb?

Feb 26, 13 9:30 pm


"Allora, perche questa persona Torinese non mi ha detto 'sono un professore'?"  I always thought docent = adjunct, or similar.  Yes, I know Firenze has the architecture school, but Bologna, the country's oldest university, does not.  I know a guy from Bologna who went to Firenze.  He works industrial design, and did not become an architect.  I like the clean finished look of your portfolio.  Complimenti! The Bolognese guy was all about "process," so his portfolio felt very unfinished and did not fetch one's attention.  In Sicily, is there an architecture school (Palermo?) or do they all go to Reggio Calabria?  Funny, how in Italy, one is a Dott. Arch.  Here, I'm just a "mister."  I like it that way.   Less pretentious.

Feb 26, 13 9:45 pm

Because "docente" and "professore" are almost synonyms. Docente means: the one who theach, derives from Doceo =  to Teach (in Latin). Professor is someone that has job of teaching. Docente is like someone that has the knowledge for teaching, it's used more in University and Academia, Professore is more common as away to call the teacher,(in university but in high school too). 

Back in the topic the Academic Portfolio in Italy are very different, I think you can find a lot of the project unattractive because the a lot of class we attend are unattractive. Is very different the mentality and the way to do things. Here in US you see some "standard" in the Portfolio. Usually you find these: some model making, hand drawing, Cad drawing, some Project with some high concept theory on the base.

Since few years a lot of new faculty appears in Italy so i don't know where the architectural school are. I knew before there were few (but with a lot fo students as always). Another thing, doesn't exist an Interior design scool

And yes for us Italian the title is the most important thing... doesn't matter how corrupt you are, as long you have the title you can watch the others from top to bottom and pretend respect.

Feb 26, 13 11:30 pm

^ Simone:

I hope I was clear.  I said I liked the work seen in your portfolio because of its clean presentation!  It was the guy from Bologna's portfolio I didn't like.  Are you ancestrally from Sicily?  I know Catania has engineering, up on the Viale Andrea Doria campus, but no architecture.  That's why I asked if Sicilians go to Palermo, or they head to Reggio.  I've only known Sicilians who went to Reggio for architecture ... or much further north to Roma, Firenze, Milano or Torino.

Feb 27, 13 12:46 am

@Simone: the Politecnico of Milan has an Interior Design BA and MA since 10 years.

Feb 27, 13 11:06 am

Emma. That's good. I didn't know that. I know there are new courses like fashion, industrial design etc... where did you graduated from? Did you have some experience in Italy?

Observant. Yes, you were clear. I'm sorry i didn't explain well.  Anyway thank you for the compliments. It was just a rant about how things works. Maybe i'm too negative,I hope Emma gives another view about the topic...

Feb 27, 13 11:51 am

I heard that in Italy Architecture was the most granted/encouraged degree because Italians value the broadness an architecture education provides - they get to continue studying art, history, science, business....  A way of getting a bachelor of art and science education.  But it's perplexing that, that then translates into everyone getting licensed - how can there be that much work to get the experience for all of those people. Getting licensed must be easy? 150,000 is huge.   

Feb 27, 13 8:32 pm

Italy is crazy in another way.  In the U.S., you go to HS and take a college preparatory course.  In Italy, at age 13 or 14, they make you select a liceo scentifico, liceo classico, or liceo artistico, respectively, a scientific, classics-oriented, or art-oriented HS.  I thought such an early choice would screw someone out of the possibility of architecture school.  Actually, the three paths can converge and one can still go into architectural studies, but their preparation for the rigors of the curriculum might vary.

Feb 27, 13 8:41 pm

Italy is crazy in maaany ways. But we are going off topic here. The guy who posted in the beginning is lost at this point...

If you want know how things are in Italy let's open another thread. Actually will be nice to see the difference with other countries, regarding the professional and educational field

Here's some link maybe useful for the guy who opened the thread

Feb 27, 13 9:20 pm

Right, the thread has morphed.  They have a way of doing that.  Those who have worked in Italy can tell of their experiences, and incomes, as you have. Others can add similar information.

Feb 27, 13 9:22 pm


That link is interesting, to say the least.  Thank you.  I didn't bother to read all of them, so I only read the Fuksas studio comments.  It doesn't look like he has any fans ... among his employees who sounded off.  My relatives asked me "Why don't you come work for a studio in Italy for a while?" a few years after graduating and having about 2 years of work experience.  Italians are, by nature, peacocks, so I can only imagine what a peacock a famous Italian architect would be!  I was too Americanized and didn't look into it, because it would have never worked ... in either direction.

Feb 27, 13 10:34 pm

Why your parents said that? I mean, i'm trying to understand how people perceived us...

Feb 27, 13 11:38 pm

Simone: It was relatives in Firenze that mentioned working in Italy.  They are "meridionale" types, and my cousins were actually born in Firenze.  They saw that I had finished architecture, knew all the facts and figures about historic buildings, speak the language, and thought I might enjoy living in Italy.  They didn't say Firenze specifically, but a studio somewhere in the country's north.  Italians are perceived well, and being colorful is one of their strong suits, so don't worry about that.  My father made the "pavone" comment, but his sense of humor is biting and direct.  It's true, though!  My father pointed out the fact that I couldn't take 30 minute showers, couldn't find easy street parking, couldn't buy cheap gas for all the driving I do, and everything would seem like such a pain in the ass to a "viziato" like me, that I declined my cousins' suggestion.  But I go over there all the time!  Just went last summer.

Feb 27, 13 11:52 pm

Eh eh, but you could try... at least you would have something to talk about...

Feb 28, 13 12:03 am

@Simone: I have been taking my BA at Politecnico of Milan and MA at University Iuav of Venice (both in Design).

I think the reason why in Italy so many people study architecture is because it's a kind of 'classical' profession - like law, medicine, economics, engineering. These are the five most popular university faculties in Italy. We don't have any welfare, we count on our parents and our parents push us to enroll in a 'secure' profession that can assure a decent income in the future - architecture is considered one of them. That's why so many people enroll in architecture, some of them without any passion for it as well.

When I enrolled in design, and still now, by granpa (very 'traditional' and old man) keeps telling me that I should have studied architecture instead, with no apparent reason - I would be a terrible architect. But in the mind of the people architecture is a prestigious, rich and safe profession. The result today is that in Italy we have 2% famous architects and 98% unknown archtects, unpaid interns or people who studied architecture and then decided to work in some other field.

@observant: when you are 14 you have many choises, not only the 'liceo'. You can go to a plenty of different schools as well. I agree that is a very early choice to make - and very hard for many people. Anyways I can see you have some true information about Italy, but most of them are incomplete or superficial.

Feb 28, 13 4:06 am

Simone: I got paid $400/month for internship in Austria.

I don't know how the Italian educational system or the architectural profession work, but I'm guessing its somewhat similar to many European countries where students start calling themselves 'architects' after they have their bachelors.  In North America, its pretty strict in that you need to get a professional degree from an accredited school which requires an undergraduate and masters degree.  After that, its a few years of working and logging in required work hours before you go on and do the licensing exam.  The good thing about the American highschool system is that you can go study anything you want and switch professions even if you're 70 years old.  My cousins where are from Austria, had to choose (or more like seperated) from very early what they wanted to concentrate on.  Often times, there were forced to go into something because their junior school marks weren't very good.

Feb 28, 13 5:35 am

@accesskb: the point is not if you can call yourself an architect after a BA, MA or 30 years of work - the point is that nobody can survive with $400/month. Southern European employers always assume you have a family behind you that can sustain you economically, but this is a way of thinking that has bad consequences on the system itself. Everybody of us should work and get paid in a way that allows ourselves to live with dignity.

Feb 28, 13 5:45 am

Emma: I totally agree.. Students/professional/or whatever you call yourself, everyone should be paid based on the work they put in.  However, truth is that students in many european countries get government incentives like free transportation, monthly stipends, extremely cheap student housing, free education (yes! the bulk of expense for American students) etc.  I speak from an Austrian student's standpoint btw. 

Feb 28, 13 6:39 am

If we got free education here in America, I sure as hell wouldn't be complaining too much for getting paid $400/month.  I mean each year in an American university could cost a student upwards of $50,000 for tuition and living expenses alone.

Feb 28, 13 6:41 am

A smart thing would be to get free education in Europe, then move to North America for work ^^

Feb 28, 13 6:42 am

@observant: when you are 14 you have many choises, not only the 'liceo'. You can go to a plenty of different schools as well. I agree that is a very early choice to make - and very hard for many people. Anyways I can see you have some true information about Italy, but most of them are incomplete or superficial.

I can only glean bits and pieces of information when I'm there.  That there are more varied HSs than in the U.S. is a reality and I wouldn't want to make that choice.  I would just want to go to HS and worry about university later ... and then whether to go make cappuccino for Fuksas.

Feb 28, 13 7:43 am

Actually in Italy when you have a college degree you have a title of "doctor". So if you graduate in Law you are a Doctor in Law. If you graduate in Engineering  you are a Doctor in Engineering. If you graduate in Architecture you are a Doctor in Architecture. You can called yourself an Architect only if you pass the license exam. If you call yourself an Architect when you doesn't have any license (so you are just a Doctor in Architecture) you are doing a offense, punishable with 150euro (i don't remember very well the exact amount)  of penalty.

In Italy we don't have any incentive as north European country has. So 400euro per month will be something that a lot of new professionals will be happy for. But is not enough even to survive.

I agree what emma said. About her Grandfather and other things.

For the high school topic maybe is hard to understand but you don't have to choose your careers at 14. In general the Liceo School gives you a broad preparation to university.  

Feb 28, 13 10:02 am

One thing I haven't seen mentioned in this thread is the difference between the way European architecture firms are structured compared to their British-American counterparts.  From talking to people who have worked in French and German firms, I get the sense that they are run very much like artisanal studios-with the founding principal(s) leading a rather informally organized group of designers and interns who are often retained on a contract basis for the duration of  a project often won by competition.  There are a few salaried personnel who are mainly responsible for carrying out the highly technical tasks required for the project's construction, but everyone else appears young, passionate, and willing to work for peanuts just for the privilege to work alongside the design master. When I was looking for a semester-long internship at architecture school, I seriously considered working for a Pritzker- winning French architect since it would be kind of practical (French citizenship, French speaker) but then I found out they would pay too little to even survive in Paris, and I would be left building models and being at the mercy of the designer's bossy wife. It was pretty much implied that I had to save a lot of money before going there, which at the time was impossible.

I opted instead to take an internship with a world-class mega-firm in Chicago, was paid a standard beginner salary with 401k an health benefits and enjoyed a comfortable apartment close to downtown. Sure, I didn't get a chance to work alongside a design master, but I benefited in learning a wealth of technical skills that would serve me well later in my career.

Feb 28, 13 10:22 am

^ you're right homme... when I interned at the Austrian firm, we worked on a competition project for a few months.  When the project deadline arrived and we submitted the proposal, the entire team was called for lunch and the principal architect started to ask us one by one, what are plans were next.  A few said they were going on a vacation etc etc.  I guess most are hired on a temporary/per project basis and let go after its over.  It was also quite a surprise to me talking to the other team mates that at some points the office is full with 50+ people and certain times only 10+ like the time I was there.

Feb 28, 13 12:26 pm

Actually in Italy when you have a college degree you have a title of "doctor". So if you graduate in Law you are a Doctor in Law. If you graduate in Engineering  you are a Doctor in Engineering. If you graduate in Architecture you are a Doctor in Architecture.

Again, we are digressing from Fuksas and others to work for in Italy as an indentured servant.  However, do you like the educational model for universities in Italy?  There, you "give an exam" (dare un esame).  Here, you "take an exam" (prendere un esame) ... the same difficult exam everyone else takes, usually 3 of them in a semester for a course, and 1 project with a mini ancillary project for a studio.  It is more egalitarian.  There, the rigors of an oral exam may change with how well the professor likes you.  My cousin is a graduate of the University of Catania in one of the liberal arts and her husband told me they were easier on her during her final orals because she is a good looking blonde.  In architecture, I knew an Italian guy from Roma-La Sapienza who got into a snag with a design prof and was blocked from proceeding.  He was then in the 4 year program curriculum at my school, to finish, and was doing fine. Here, most people self-select out of architecture.  The marginal students who don't cause trouble are given Cs in studios and allowed to proceed.  They may never be good architects, but they have some knowledge to work in allied fields.  One of the nicest people was someone who transferred over from engineering, where she belonged because she couldn't design her way out of a paper bag, and she still graduated, albeit with an academic average pulled down by low design studio grades.

I had to explain to the Italians that "un dottore" in America means degree #3, for example:  BA in Psychology, MA in Psychology, PhD in Psychology - voila!  Only then, will someone call you a "doctor" and many university professors still want to be on a first-name basis with grad students.  I love that.  I have taught as an adjunct in the evenings a few times, and insisted on being called by my first name, and not mister, especially with students 5 to 10 years younger than me.

Feb 28, 13 2:33 pm

^ haha you can imagine my confusion when an italian friend of mine started calling me doctor right after I finished undergrad.  I thought she was just joking until I found out its different in Italy.  Here in America, we all call our profs who have earned PhD's by their first name :)  I think the title Doctor is usually used in formal settings like an introduction at a conference, introducing someone to the Doctor or writing a formal letter etc

Feb 28, 13 3:11 pm

Yeah we are digressing too much... :)

Feb 28, 13 3:32 pm

True, Simone, we are digressing, but the comparative educational and career tracks in different countries is better and more informative discourse than gossiping or theorizing about an indisputably ugly, definitely externally and probably internally, and reputedly imperious person like Fuksas ...

Feb 28, 13 3:45 pm

Ah ah you are right!

Feb 28, 13 4:59 pm

to the MiriM's original question - don't expect much. In my experience, they'll try to pay you as little as possible, and there will always be someone willing to work for less.

I was at Fuksas for about 9 months in 2009-2010. I knew people working for free, I heard of project managers with years of experience making ~600 euros/month, I knew interns making 1000 euros a month. I made 1200 euro/month, and that was barely enough to survive, after rent and student loans. There's a range - if you get an offer push for a wage you can live with. Rome is expensive, especially if you want to live anywhere near the office. Treat it as an extended vacation and an "experience" and you'll be fine. If you're expecting a long-term career, you'd better reconsider.

Working at Fuksas is definitely a mixed bag. The people there are all very talented, friendly, intelligent, and enthusiastic - it really is a great work environment, most of the time. The office is located in a renovated old palazzo near Campo di Fiori - you can't beat the location. While Fuksas always has the ultimate say on design issues, you do have a lot of freedom to be creative in how you interpret his sketches and ideas. There's a great model shop, and all the software you need. The man is a mad genius and does some excellent work - but if you piss him off or have to work with him on a bad day, watch out. Work there was tenuous - I don't think anyone gets a proper contract, or any help with visas. Most of the foreigners working there were technically illegal, on expired tourist visas. The office was fairly strict - don't even think about going out for coffee or a smoke outside of lunch hour. There was always the sense that anyone could be fired at any time, for any reason - a few people I knew were let go for going to get coffee. 

That all said, it's a great experience if you can afford it, it'll get you a good resume line, a few good portfolio projects, and - most importantly - help you expand your professional network. No one stays at Fuksas long, and the people you meet there will be valuable friends & references down the road.

Mar 1, 13 1:31 am

@Evan - the picture doesn't look good, and by stringing together all the bits of  information, this is no surprise:

- the catch him on a bad day "on the rag" problem, workers who will work for less to work for him, the coffee or smoking thing out of turn as a basis for dismissal

Theoretically, if everyone said "just say no," then he wouldn't have anybody to make him great.

Are you at least fluent in Italian as a result of this sojourn? 

Mar 1, 13 2:00 am

Block this user

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

  • ×Search in: