My thoughts in response to Arch Daily’s blog posted on the 30th January 2012 ‘Practice 2.0 : Championing the young architect’s career, a lesson from technology startups’ by CASE (written by David Fano and Steve Sanderson)
Firstly, as true as most of this is in both the US and the UK, I’d say on the whole it’s a rather negative view of a young architect’s career path.
I have been finding more and more blogs that are either individually expressed views of people partaking in this venture themselves, or by a collective number of late thirty somethings who have passed that stage but can still remember and care to comment on the painful uphill struggle of getting to that point of ‘making it’.
It is probably easier to write negative views on a flawed system than look for the good in it, so I’m not knocking anyone’s blogs. In fact I enjoy reading them and I appreciate everything everyone has to say.
While I don’t disagree with the points made on the Arch Daily blog, and I know this is how the majority feels, I just thought I’d take the time to reply to this, as I have had such a great experience in the industry (so far) with the way I have approached my studies.
I want to give my positive spin on it, especially for those still in the process, or for the architecture students of the following generations, or perhaps even to let the more experienced architects out there feel a bit hopeful that it could still change!
Looking at CASE’s blog and their opinions on the intern experience in the US, I’m not sure whether the UK education system has any particular advantage over other countries?
After the first three years, a compulsory year-out in Practice is required. You cannot achieve your RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Part 1 qualification if you haven’t proven sufficient evidence of working within the industry. Granted in the last few years, what with the economic turn-down, they have relaxed the rules slightly, but that is only to ensure that they do not hinder students in their educational progression. Once you complete this year out, you are then expected to go back to university and do either a Diploma or a Masters (it all really confuses me, to what kind of qualification and where) but something that is RIBA acreddited and will get you to pass the RIBA Part 2 exam.
This is when you are required to go into Practice and work on a full project from inception to completion, so that you understand the process and when you sit your final RIBA Part 3 exam and interview you are quizzed on the various problems that came up during the project and how you dealt with them.
I’m not sure how this compares with the American System? Does anybody want to comment and let me know?
Secondly, my solution to how it could work; may be obvious to me, and to those who know me, but has anyone considered an internship/apprenticeship approach?
This means that you don’t leave school without many of the practical skills necessary to work on aspects required by the Intern Development Program but rather pick them up as you go along. Yes, you do get assigned to one particular phase and yes you do have to tolerate it, but it teaches you a lot and it doesn’t waste a further three years as you’re combining studying with working at the same time so it becomes a part of your education.
Another argument that the CASE blog puts forward is that the process doesn’t give young architects the tools and experience needed to run their own practices. I would argue my case for internships/apprenticeships as you are able to learn everything you need to know about how to run a Practice without actually handling any of the reponsibility or stress. I pick up on everything that goes on around me, and over the years (in conjunction with my studies) I have built up an excellent view of what to do and what maybe not to do and the problems you face and how difficult it can be to run a Practice.
As an apprentice from the very begining, I’ve not been exposed to the full creativity of university, where you can let your imagination run wild, and then the consequent let-down when you start your working life as an architect and experience the everyday mundane tasks, stressful time constraints, limited budgets and unimaginitive clients. It seems it has been a let-down for many of you.
My career has been quite the opposite in fact. I’ve known since day one that the real world and university are different. I’ve listened to the Architects around me moan about the job. I’ve witnessed every work experience school child we’ve had with us being told ‘don’t do architecture’. Even if it was said with humour, they’ve been fair warned!
Perhaps that’s why I take such a positive view on it. Such negative views from the very beginning has only meant I find things better than they were first envisaged, rather than the other way about : When I grow up I want to be an architect - and then it’s all downhill from graduation, dreams of drawing all day and creating masterpieces dampened by reality, budgets and experience.
It’s a tough world this architecture. And if we’re going to encourage further generations with Mattels new Architect Barbie and Lego’s famous architecture buildings, then maybe the key is to let them know what they’re in for from the very begining. Guidance Counsellors - we’re looking at you!!
My blog requires I end with a question in order to allow replies, so without further ado - any questions?