How did you go from Design Arch. to Project Arch. ?


I had a summer internship after my second year if undergraduate and spent the whole summer doing 3D model and renderings, things I already know.

Now I'm done my bachelor and the new office I'm working at still makes me do 3D and graphic stuff, because they know I good in those aspects. However, these are the last things I see myself doing in 3 or 5 years.

I would like to LEARN about how a project gets carried out, gets approved. How does it get managed with suppliers, contractor. How to do a construction plan. How does the budgeting gets discussed. How to solve conflicts between different parties of a project, etc.

Obviously, most people running their office will hire you to make you do what you're good at and NOT give you unfamiliar situations for you to LEARN FROM. 

That being said, how then, do you leave the Designer Architect career path and merge towards a Project Architect direction? 

Did any of you senior architects face this situation?

How would you go on to discuss, with your boss, this desire to learn new stuff and get introduced more into a building phase of a project ?

And also, some basic info:
- newly obtained B.Arch., but has now ~6-7 months experience in architecture offices.
- planning to work a year and then apply for a M.Arch (which has a ONE year curriculum option here)
- thinking of applying for a MBA afterwards if it is any relevant to eventually have one.




Jun 16, 13 8:45 pm

Pick a firm where principals care about your progress in this field and understand your goals.  During my firs internship, I worked with a principal who pushed me and tried to expose me in all aspects of the project - from attending important meetings with the developer financing the multi-million dollar project, sitting in on video-conferences with the team half-way across the world, diving head first into detailing buildings when I had next to no experience in them.  Another principal who interviewed me for a job told me straight up to remove and keep fancy renderings in my portfolio to a minimum because that isn't what I wanted to be stuck doing in a firm.  You must be willing and show that you're interested in doing any other work they have available.  Often times, it means that you'll have to do your learning and hw much before your work term so you become an asset to them.  Lets face it.. most of the time the tasks are important and deadlines looming so they can't have some student they don't fully trust in getting the job done smoothly on time doing it.  Last but not least, don't be afraid to approach the principal you're working under to talk about your objectives during the term and request for other work if possible.  I had a classmate during undergrad who spent about two months in an architecture firm doing admin work, photocopying and other boring work.  She was clearly not happy and was despising that internship position.  That was until we adviced her to approach the principal and tell him she preferred taking on more challenging work.  Fast forward a few years, she is now a full-time employee in that firm and had spent multiple rewarding internships there after that talk.  Its better to communicate with those in charge so neither is left to assume what the other wants.

Jun 17, 13 12:51 am

If you are a young and a firm is moving you around from project to project and only using you for graphic work, then get a new job. If they dont have any projects progressing to construction in the office, then their stance makes better sense, but if they are just pulling you from projects after SD, get outta there. Still hard to switch jobs right now, so you might just have to wait it out, but keep your eyes open. These are firms that dont care about mentoring staff. Go to a firm that keeps people on projects for the whole duration of the project. That is the way to learn things in architecture. There are a lot of firms like this, its not a rare thing. You can try to talk to the leadership, and certainly it could work, but you should know now that their "default" stance is not to mentor, so keep that in mind.

Jun 17, 13 2:14 am

go  work for a small firm! (3-5 person) yes the pay & benefits will be less, and some days you may be in the office by yourself wishing you had someone to chat it up w/ or ask software questions, you may have to cut grass and shovel snow! but the reward is absolutely worth it!!!

Jun 17, 13 4:18 pm
Erik Evens (EKE)

How about talking to the senior people at the office, and telling them that you'd like to broaden your exposure and experience?  

Sounds like you just graduated, in which case I think that a bit of patience is in order.  Keep your eyes open, look for opportunities to prove yourself in other capacities.  I can tell you in our office we want to give people a variety of experience, but sometimes the most ambitious people get the nod before others.  

Jun 17, 13 4:43 pm

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