construction management + M.Arch?


I'm thinking of doing a construction management certificate/degree, in addition to an M.Arch (not at the same time), but am wondering if it will be worth it. 

I am interested in quite academic, process-driven or critical architecture, an so I think it would be great to supplement this with very pragmatic, 'get-shit-built' courses from a technical school. I am also quite interested in the role the architect can play in improving the efficiency and quality of the construction process, and how this might drive design decisions.

My question is: will design firms appreciate this, or will I simply be competing against other junior designers, purely on design merit/ability to produce drawings and models quickly? That is to say, without a ton of work experience, will the construction management even matter, as I would be looking at doing time in junior positions that wouldn't involve any coordinating or management? 

Additionally, how much overlap is there going to be between Professional Practice and Building Tech courses in the M.Arch? I have a Bachelor of Environmental Design, and have been through simple building tech and digital tooling, etc. courses once (these classes were shared with the M.Arch students at my school). I have also worked for a service oriented firm, producing permit and construction drawings for a while. I'm game to put in time and work hard, but I'd rather not go over the fundamentals 4 different times (undergrad, office work, construction management, grad school)... 

Jan 13, 14 2:09 pm

I thought you were looking for suggestions as to whether BSCM + M.Arch. is a good combo.  It is.  I have some caveats, which I will mention later.

Since you already have a B.A.E.D., concentrate on the M.Arch. without other side dishes.  Also, if your program was not technically substantial, choose a more technically substantial M.Arch.  Why don't you begin working and get the A.R.E., and even LEED, out of the way before doing the CM thing?

Yes, you can do it as either a certificate or a degree.  Some people here have started threads about night time CM degrees.  If not burned out from the M.Arch. and the ARE, you can go for it.  Also, its content won't come into play until you are about 5 to 10 years into practice anyway, so the timing dovetails.

The caveat is that, while I personally would have gone BSCM plus M.Arch. in hindsight, I don't think the ivory tower M.Arch. schools are too receptive to it.  Taking courses in estimating, scheduling, construction law, surveying, and safety is too vocational for the ivory tower schools.  Only a few schools which would be held in high academic regard offer BSCM or BSBC programs, with one such school being UF.  Had I chosen that route, I would have taken a lot of art and language courses both because I like them and to indicate that I was not obtuse to the admissions committee.  You will see a lot of bonehead jock types in CM programs, even at the post-bacc evening level, who probably don't like and definitely don't speak the same language as architects.  The added benefit is that CM education, at the undergraduate, is often a hair away from allowing for a business minor, which is often useful to "deflake" an architect.  But, yeah, concentrate on the M.Arch., and a good one at that, and do CM later.

Jan 13, 14 2:22 pm

I did two CM courses at BCIT in Vancouver, and it's a totally different crowd from architecture. Only two of the 30 students in my first class were female. It's far more of a bone/meat-head type crowd, but at the same time lacks all the pretentiousness of architecture school that I wasn't a fan of.

A lot of people will say though, that you get the real skills in management by doing. I took the courses to learn scheduling with microsoft project, which was very useful, but the management is something you learn by screwing up on the field and learning to never do it again. I'm in a construction management type job and while it helps that I know how a building goes together, design skills are pretty much irrelevant. 

Jan 13, 14 5:01 pm

I did two CM courses at BCIT in Vancouver, and it's a totally different crowd from architecture. Only two of the 30 students in my first class were female. It's far more of a bone/meat-head type crowd, but at the same time lacks all the pretentiousness of architecture school that I wasn't a fan of.

Haha.  Valid observation all the way around.  I knew a guy who went to Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and got a degree in construction management.  He is an ethnic dude and could have doubled as a bouncer.  He does quite well and does important work.  Fortunately, he does not speak negatively of architects, but just gives off the attitude that it's a different skill set than his, which is a healthy attitude.  SFU must be more vocational than UBC, which is such a cool school, btw, because SFU's programs seem so practical.  I also know a chick who went to SFU for education in forensics.

Very true about the dichotomous thing with architecture and CM.

The CM crowd tends to be male, and they very much want women to enroll in these programs, but the meat-head thing is a stereotype that holds a lot of truth.  What a great place for a jock who grunts:  construction + business.  Sounds as simpatico as a pig in shit to me.  Now, I don't care if someone has that persona or presentation, as long as they don't rag on architects for being a hair away from interior designers or speak disparagingly of them.  I know a CM/CE guy from Lawrence Tech who said that the biggest decision architects have to make is selecting colors.  Even though I hadn't yet enrolled in architecture, I knew he was an ass.  He still is.

The archi crowd and the whole milieu is very pretentious.  And if it's pretentious at a bread and butter school, then it scares me to think of how pretentious it could be elsewhere.  That's why I push state university education for architecture, unless someone is handed money for the plum or private ones.

In a way, group think exists in both fields.  There is a set of normative "shoulds" in both fields, as to how you choose to present yourself, act, perform your work, and interests you should hold.  I am miffed by these polarities, since I don't like these extremes.  The trick is to go to CM school or a-school and be the person you want to be.  I think I could have managed a CM program while still attending to the cultural things I sought in an education without selling out.  But if you emptied a golf bag, I couldn't identify any of the clubs if my life depended on it.  On the other hand, I found a modicum of a-school people and faculty to be quite full of themselves, and preferred to keep it practical or, at least, well rounded.

Regardless, I am a supporter of CM education or having "another" education in an allied field like landscape architecture or urban planning.  In the end, you should call the shots on the type of architect you want to be, and how much of the other facets of your education you want, or need, to commingle.

Jan 13, 14 8:07 pm

thanks for the thoughts. didn't expect to get responses from so close to home... did undergrad at UBC (transferred from SFU after one year) and was looking at the BCIT CM options!

I have been trying to get entry level work on the CM side of things for a while, but it seems like most places really want either a CM cert. of some kind, or an engineering background, which is understandable, I suppose.

@observant, I've applied to M.Arch progammes, so maybe/hopefully I will be on that track in September. I was considering starting some courses between now and that time though. Also, there's the possibility I won't be admitted, in which case I'll have additional time to 'kill'. Getting the ARE out of the way is not an option, as I don't have a professional degree (also can't work towards IDP hours). Almost got LEED a while ago, before all the different levels came into it, but ditched the idea before writing the exam. In hind sight it likely would have been a good idea to finish off, considering I'd already studied for it and purchased the handbook... at this point I'm no longer interested in the designation.

Jan 13, 14 10:53 pm

Is a certificate in CM good enough a credential to have or would it be wise to go on to a full blown CM masters? 

Jan 14, 14 4:12 pm

I wouldn't do the CM masters...but it depends where you want to work I guess. I'm in government and didn't even list CM courses on my resume, but referred to them in my interview.

Even a freelance project as a design builder would probably be excellent experience. Find someone that needs something as simple as a deck or shed built, learn how to get the permits with city hall and deal with contractors and scheduling to get it built. More than anything in my field people want to see how you can resolve sticky situations or deal with different personalities. 

No one in my office cares that I have an M.Arch, they wanted to hear about the relevant experience. I did a design build course at UBC that taught me far more than anything else in my time there. If anything, being the one architecture grad here makes me the centre of many jokes. 

Jan 15, 14 12:48 pm

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