December 23, 2014

Submission to NYCOBA for Recognition Award- "A Lesson Learned in Architecture"

I recently won an award for my efforts to promote and help young emerging professionals attain licensure. This submission was to the New York Coalition of Black Architects (NYCOBA) part of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). I am honored to hear others speak highly of my works and give me recognition to which I am humbled. The following is the written submission I wrote which is an update to my first NCARB Architectural Registration Exam pointers found HERE.   

A Lesson Learned in Architecture (NCARB ARE)

Architecture is a dynamic creature that begs to be mastered but can never truly be achieved. Many lessons can be derived from a profession that deals with such a complex art.The Architectural Registration Exam (ARE) is a lesson ("a useful piece of practical wisdom acquired by experience or study") that lends itself to acquire practical wisdom from its laborious process. Having completed the ARE process, coupled with relevant experience, what follows is a reflection of what process I took in preparation for the exam. Hopefully, my accounts will be a helping hand and shed light on the path for current candidates seeking licensure.

Key Concentration-
There is more at play than just sitting at a desk and answering some questions. Yes, the exam is intimidating but only due to its unfamiliarity. The process that assisted me in accomplishing a successful result entailed three strategic factors: understanding your study style, momentum and consistent persistence. I believe that these factors should be approached in your own personal way and applied across the entire 7-exam process.

Making a Schedule-
This is a useful starting point that doesn't have to be detailed or lengthy.

Firstly: Briefly review ALL seven exam section guides provided by NCARB. This will get you thinking on each subject. The ordering in which you test is irrelevant initially. Think about your exam spacing and any life events that may be occurring. This may be family, work or school related which will affect your exam focus. Set aside these initial findings.

Secondly: Follow up with a more in-depth review of each section guide and the additional reference materials therein. Which topics are you familiar with? Which are new to you? Would you rather start with the unfamiliar topics and finish up with familiar ones or would you rather the opposite? When you have answered these questions, you are on your way to having a tentative schedule and exam order. Tentative, in that it is likely to change.

Study Style-
How well were you during high school and college taking exams? What factors were necessary for you to do well? Did you procrastinate? Organized sessions or sporadic? Did you read repeatedly, listen to audio books or make personal flash cards? These questions pose the relevant dialogue you should have with yourself. Understanding the manner in which you learn is key to "ingesting" the massive amount of information the ARE encompasses. I was able to read study guides & reference guides repeatedly while making my own notes. My most important note taking was during and following practice exams. You should be honest with yourself about topics or questions you don't grasp during the study process. Review them and note where you went wrong. Seek out additional materials if you still have trouble.

I did not "cram" for any of my exams and I do not recommend you do so either. "The quicker the information comes in, the quicker it goes out." Remember this exam is a learning tool; you will not retain much information if you just memorize. If your passion is architecture, knowing every word is unrealistic but understanding the topics and concepts will help you beyond your exams. This is uniquely important for the structures and building systems exams. Most would think there's no need to delve deep into these topics since I have engineers to handle this in real life. Yes and No. Architects need to be knowledgeable on many facets of buildings, design and construction; sort of a 'jack of all trades'. This Renaissance man mentality was very apparent during my study sessions. Understanding the principal concepts of basic structures and their loading is just as important as understanding heating, cooling and drainage.

A physics term which has two applicable meanings as related to the ARE:

One: A mass in motion. Consider yourself to be the mass and the completion of one exam as motion. In order to create motion, you have to start. It's understandable with exam topics, procedures, software, all of which is new, for this to be daunting. The famous phrase said it best "half the battle is showing up." Procrastination is not your friend. I found it necessary to bite the bullet and get started. If you are slipping during the process, make sure to reassess your schedule.

Two: The more the mass is in motion the harder it is to stop. Once you start, do not stop! I got into a groove of testing across the 2.5 years it took me to finish. Then the task doesn't seem as difficult but just a necessary middle man to an achievable goal. This was especially important for me having passed all seven exams straight through without stopping.

Consistent Persistence-
Though partly related to the aforementioned factor and somewhat expected, these are equally important aspects of completing your ARE. After setting a schedule and starting, you have to remain consistent with your study routine; a routine which will be dependent on each individual. I also felt it necessary to study every day in order to remain persistent. The material remained fresh in my mind and I built on top of that information in every subsequent study session. I did not take too much time off or it would have felt like I was starting all over.

About the Exam-
The exam itself is broken down into a multiple choice portion and a graphic vignette portion. Multiple choice is exactly what you'd expect; choosing the correct word answer(s) from four to six options, fill in the blank, true-false and graphic/picture selection. The biggest help for me during preparations was taking as many different practice exams as possible. I recommend you take a wide variety of exams from different testing material publishers. I'll warn you, I only took each practice exam twice at the most. Any more than that and you run the risk of memorizing the correct answer as opposed to learning why the correct answer is correct.

Unfortunately, the graphic portion utilizes a truly un-user friendly software. It is quirky and time consuming if you aren't accustom to it. There's only one solution to mastering this program and that's usage time. In the beginning I would start using the program at my midway study point. Towards the end of my testing I could wait until the latter since I was very proficient using it. Familiarity aids in time management which is a major learning curve to overcome. Generally, the vignettes are not difficult but put under a time constraint coupled with the software nuisances, they do become challenging. For multiple choice and vignettes, my review materials consisted of Kaplan & Ballast/PPI study guide systems, Norman Dorf's Solutions vignette guide, NCARB guides, select reference text and various free online study resources.

Don't let things get you down-
Failure is a principal we come to terms with at an early age. No one is perfect and we cannot let the possibility of failure deter you from accomplishing your goal. The ARE is no different. Prepare for the exam accordingly and give it your all. Be positive and confident. This was my testing ethic. After starting my exams I hit a stumbling block. My first exam came back as a FAIL. I was upset and distort. Reading the letter almost brought me to tears. Getting back on the horse per sae was not an easy task, but I did and passed all seven after that. I urge you to take advantage of the given score report as well as an evaluation of your feeling during the exam and try again. With the new 60 day wait period, don't be fooled into rushing into a second attempt. Make sure to prepare accordingly.

Get the Paperwork done-
Despite my heavy focus on studying and getting through the exams, I did not forget about the documentation process. I was sure to stay up to date on the completion of all NCARB and state license requirements. In a lot of states you are allowed to test concurrently with completion of the IDP. In my state, NY, this is so. These requirements can vary greatly, so be proactive. For example: I've seen NY require more than the NCARB minimum experience hours. NCARB sets the basis but your state is the final determining factor. I felt it was prudent to complete the backend items so my main focus was on the only outstanding requirement: the ARE. In a two (2) week span of time I was able to get my last exam pass, attain my license number from the state and receive my formal & official hard copy certificate, license and registration. Next to the day of my marriage and the birth of my two children, that was a glorious moment! The ARE is challenging but it is far from impossible. Stay positive from day one. Set up a plan and stick with it.

Bringing it all together-
Gaining momentum while being consistent and persistent is key but you also have to work within your limits understanding what works for you. Be cautious as to who you confide in about your journey through the ARE. There will always be that bitter person that complains about every aspect of the exam or makes excuses as to why you shouldn't start. Attempting to stay positive in your own path can be derailed with these "Debbie Downers." There's enough pressure with completing the exam itself. Strive toward completion and remember "That which is worth having isn't easily attained."

Jared W. Smith, R.A.  
I am now on Facebook and Instagram. Please Like and Follow me! 

December 2, 2014

Instagram, Architecture & Photography

I recently entered the world of Instagram, a little apprehensive but open minded. It's been almost a month and I can say for sure: there are a lot of people on there! I'd be happy if you'd follow me @RegisteredArchitect.

Amazing to see the exchange of those with a love of creative expression. My initial reaction to be interested in the expected architecture related post but that has crossed over to art and general non-architectural Photography. The following is phrases as well as lessons learned from my journey trickled with some of my recent post. Mind you I am a self taught Photography still learning my way around this complex world. 

It is fairy easy to capture a photo on a cell phone, use a filter and post it.

The manner in which you go about capturing that photo is what will differentiate a good from a great instagramer.

Framing and composition is just as important as the subject matter being shot.

Apparently likes and followers can be bought and sold.

There are some extremely talented people on Instagram.

Exchanging of photos from all over the world in real time is pretty awesome.

I am more likely to be drawn to a perfectly composed photo of an iconic building or a hand drawn sketch than the other nonsensical things posted.  

Though started with mainly iPhone photos, I will gradually incorporate my DSLR photos also.

I am in agreement with those that feel the average person's snapshots in Instagram aren't 'real' Photography but there are some exceptions to the rule.

With little control over my iPhone's camera, at times I cannot capture the photo the way I want.

I would rather achieve 1,000 real followers than 10,000 fake followers. 

Instagram makes you think about your surroundings more.

There's a whole host of useless users, in my opinion, on Instagram just like other social media.

Architecture is not always about just seeing the whole building or project but also its details that make it interesting. 

Facebook and Instagram have a different mix of people that frequent them. 

One thing's for sure, I wish I had joined years ago!

Instagram is addicting with so much to explore. 

I love photography almost as much as architecture. This feeds my passion and inspires!  

I shoot exclusively with my iPhone 6 and my Pentax k5 & kr bodies coupled with several lenses. Being a hobbyist photographer I do not shoot (my DSLR) ever day or even every week but it is never far from my mind & hand. With Instagram it has encouraged me to seek out opportunities with my mobile and DSLR to capture good moments in time. I hope to improve my skills and gain genuinely interested followers.

There is much more to come in the future. You can check me out on Facebook at and on Instagram at


November 6, 2014

Restoration & Architecture - Part One
Click image for Hi-Res - Flickr

Leaving college was an unforgettable time for me just like the vast majority of students around May & June of each year. It comprised a combination of emotions. I was proud to have successfully completed architecture school but also bewildered and nervous about what would happen next. Unless I intended on going the route of teaching, there would be no more summers off. And loan payback was right around the corner.  

The confusion only get deeper and more complex with the various types of architecture available to enter. I was under the impression high end new buildings was for me. In addition to that, my firm had to be within Manhattan. No other types or locations would work. I was determined this was the path God was leading me. Or maybe I was just determined...

Closely following the completion of my degree, I was faced with downsizing. The firm which I had interned was not going to be able to take me on as full time staff. It was the knife through my heart at the peak of my enthusiastic emergence into the real world. I had grown to enjoy going into work. Both the senior and junior staff were inspirational and understanding of my limited experiences. Some of them became mentors to me during and after my employment there. I stayed on part-time, prepped my documents accordingly and set out with my head high to find something else.   

Before long I had sent out countless resumes and contacted several of the big name firms throughout NYC. Then the not so big names. Then the small firms. Then it was any firm that practiced architecture. This was 2008, the cusp of the downward turn of the economy as a whole. Being eager to learn coupled with plenty of firm experience I was optimistic. Ultimately my interning didn't account for much. Those seeking entry level designers requested they have some experience. An oxymoron of sorts. 

My whole family started to aid in my job search. Basically just keeping their eye open for opportunities. At this point I was even reluctantly looking into a few Westchester County firms. One day like any others, my father gives me a newspaper clipping for a firm that was ironically very very close to my family's home (at the time). Though I remember little of who I had spoke with, I had attempted to intern there during college but was unsuccessful. My enthusiasm was not very high but I figured it was worth a try. I was called almost immediately for an interview which was promising. I researched the company and prepared for the interview. I was grateful for the opportunity and would do my best.  

The interview went very well and I was offered the position the very next day. Having some experiences which paralleled their worked seemed to helped seal the deal. I thought to myself- Restoration? What will I be doing, really? I'm interested in modern new buildings not "old" ones. Or am I? Having an open mind, I thought this was a great opportunity to expand my background. Plus I'd have an incredibly short commute, so I gladly accepted. 

Restoration architecture as I've experienced is heavily weighted on building/site maintenance and preventative investigations. All buildings require maintenance at some point after they're built. The better and more proactive an owner is, the easier and less costly the repairs will be. This avenue is intertwined with several mandatory inspections such as local law 11 or as newly named- facade inspection safety program (FISP). This mandates facades, roofs and balconies be inspected periodically. This safe guards the public from deterioration not seen or noticed by said owner. Restoration is not set to the exterior alone. Interiors require updating coupled with necessary repairs to building infrastructure. In addition when infiltration does occurs, following its remedy, the interior finishes may need to be renewed. As defined by most, architects are problem solvers. This is one avenue that benefits greatly from this skill. 

Preservation and Rehabilitation throws a historical aspect into the mix. Knowledge and experience which comes in handy when working in such a old city such as New York City. Though old world construction is usually more durable, rigid and long lasting, problems will still arise. Leaks happen, deterioration causes cracking, spalling, etc. The trick is repairing in a fashion that retains the historic fabric, keeping the appearance (look, feel, color, texture, size) the same. At times it is very difficult, especially if the item is no longer made or isn't manufactured in the same fashion. Architects are researchers of materials, fabrication methods and so much more. 

In Part Two I will talk about my responsibilities working on restoration type architecture as well as the benefits of working in a small group/firm. Did my opinion change of old vs new!?

Jared W. Smith, R.A. 

October 20, 2014

Submission to NCARB Blog - "Family Life while tackling the ARE"

Whether you’re called an architectural intern, architect in training, designer, or just intern, tackling the ARE requires sacrifice. Even more so when you have a family. Here are a few tips to help you master the ARE while still maintaining your sanity—and allowing time to enjoy the nuisances of marriage and parenthood.

Make It Count
NCARB's five-year Rolling Clock can approach very quickly. When you have a family, it may not be feasible to test every month or even two months. So make your study time count. Only schedule and attempt exams when you feel fully prepared. The new 60-day retake policy is far better than the previous six-month rule, but can still be detrimental to your plan if procrastination sets in. Set a schedule and try to stick to it. But don't kill yourself if you have to reschedule an exam.

Don't Let Work Get You Down
Generally speaking, architectural staff members work long hours, leaving little time for family before the nightly bedtime routines commence. Sometimes reviewing enough material to keep the topics and concepts fresh in your mind will suffice. Going long periods of time without studying can sometimes mean starting over. Remember, a little at a time can add up.

Be a Weekend Warrior
Weekends are usually spent out as a family, and you probably won’t get to sleep in. This means the weekends can end up being just as busy as the work week. Setting aside large blocks of time to study can be difficult. Similar to weekdays, dedicate an evening or morning to studying. A quiet hour or two can make a difference.

Embrace “Free Time”
Free time and children, young children especially, seem to be an oxymoron. When that precious time does pop up, use it wisely. Though you'd rather catch up on sleep, watch television, or take on a hobby, you’re better off reviewing study materials. Don't procrastinate or you will never get done! Remember, these scarifies won’t last forever—the length of time it takes you to complete the exams is ultimately up to you.

Discover Your Study Style
Generally, each person has a study style that works best for him or her. Think back to how you completed assignments and aced exams in college. Audiobooks are great for multitasking; listen to a few chapters while you drive to work. Flash cards are another great tool for parents on-the-go, especially if you take public transportation.

Attend Life Events
Everyone has important family events like birthdays, weddings, or graduations. Take the time to go, be present, and enjoy these events. Life's irreplaceable events cannot be relived. After the confetti has settled, the cake has been cut, and the last congratulation has been given, make sure to get back on your study schedule. Just don't let these celebrations turn into procrastination.

Think Positively
It may sound obvious, but this needs to be repeated often. Thinking negatively can impact everything from study habits to your performance on test day. Prepare accordingly and stay optimistic.

In the end, family is irreplaceable. The moments shared among those close to you are indescribable. Navigating the path to licensure requires sacrifice. Perseverance, persistence, and patience are just some of the qualities you’ll need to embrace. Nothing is impossible as long as you try.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Originally from the Bronx, Jared W. Smith, AIA, LEED AP, is a licensed architect in New York. He currently works as a Project Architect at Stantec Architecture in Manhattan, NY. He juggles his professional life with his wife Yahaira and two children, Noah (2) and Penelope (1).

Originally posted on the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards' Blog here:

See more on the Architectural Registration Exam here:

August 6, 2014

Why you should prepare like the "6 month rule" is still in effect

Other than the new ARE 5.0 which is set to come out in 2016, the next biggest news in the licensing world is the retake policy change. Having gone though the seven exam process and failing my first exam, it is mentally & physically exhausting to have to retake. Let's be honest- it sucks the momentum out and drops you in a hole of depression. The ambiguity of NCARB's score reports may not help clarifying your errors either. Let's look at this new rule briefly and my opinion as to why your preparation shouldn't change just because the rule has. 

NCARB is implementing a 60 day (2 months) retake policy as oppose to the current "6 month rule." Take a look at their reasoning here: The NCARB Blog. The full news release can be found here: Revised Retake Policy. This new policy will be implemented on October 1, 2014 and is said to be proactive towards those waiting out an existing failure. What does this mean to interns and A.I.T.s? The short answer: it allows a failed exam portion to be retaken sooner. In theory shortening the time necessary to pass all exams if you do fail one of more. Or does it? 

Thinking more objectively on this change, those of us that have experienced the 6 month waiting period are probably elated and relieved. Conversely the thought pattern and study habits of those that will benefit from this change should not feel as though the exam has gotten any easier. The same if not more focus and dedication is required. Don't let the lessened retake policy allow you to be complacent while studying. "If I fail, it's only 2 months and I can retake it." Don't be this person. Once the exam material is out of your mind, it can take some extra effort to gain momentum again. 

Let's look at an example: Bob & Jane are starting their ARE 4.0 exams. Bob is under the 6 month rule. Jane is under the new 2 month (60 days) rule.

Bob decides to space his exams 2 months each and 3 months for Structures. He studies hard and thoroughly but still happens to fail one exam and has to retake it. His total ARE exam time equals (2 months X 6 exams) + (3 months X 1 exam) + 6 month retake period = 21 months or 1 year 9 months. 

Jane decides to space exams 6 weeks (1.5 months) apart, even the Structures exam. She has a more relaxed approach. Studying when she can and cramming in the last two weeks for each section. She ends up failing Structures twice and 3 other exams one time a piece. Her total ARE exam time equals (1.5 months X 7 exams) + (5 exams X 2 month retake period) = 20.5 months or 1 year 8.5 months. 

Looking at this example, these two have similar time frames but different approaches. Additionally, no time was added to Jane's example for procrastination or lose of momentum with multiple failures.  

Bottom line: The retake policy should be an afterthought not an initial one. Study hard, be thorough & confident. Go in & give it your all.  

July 29, 2014

Homeless - Photographic Documentary

Growing up in New York City and in the outer realm within Westchester County, I am very close to many large city centers that are thriving and flourishing. New York City being the largest. NYC is considered one of the largest epicenters of the US (if not the world).

Walking the streets in this economic down turn there are countless people homeless panhandling. Weather it is due to the economy, medical issues or a set of bad circumstances, it is still a paradox of wealth and poverty overlaid in direct adjacency.

On a stretch from 26th to 13th street on 6th Ave, there were six homeless people asking for help. I documented my short walk.

I was able to speak with several. Some chose not to be photographed, some did not want their face shown directly while others didn't mind and I was able to choose my angle.

As I returned from my walk I saw a veteran homeless guy sitting adjacent to a double parked 2014 E-series Mercedes Benz. This epitomized the level of travesty seen in everyday New York City. Wish I could have been able to capture this.

I hope and pray there will be others willing to help these fellow New Yorkers. And be willing to set the politics aside and treat them as humans in need of help.

As a New Yorker, it seems many people including myself have gotten accustom to them being "around." I do not want to support a drug or alcohol addiction but don't know how to help any further.

A couple of reputable homeless help centers worth supporting include: You can also support the government organization here:

Note:You can see the full size high resolution images by clicking on each. 

Jared W. Smith, R.A.

July 9, 2014

The ARE 5.0: What you need to know.

OK- the cat is out of the bag. ARE 5.0 is approaching. NCARB is claiming this will adhere more closely to the commonly defined activities of an architect. This will not be a few bandaid fixes. The whole exam system will be completely revamped similar to the 3.1 to 4.0 transition. Here is a rundown of the basics according to NCARB

Time frame- 5.0 will launch in fall/winter of 2016. This gives plenty of time for those seeking to finish their exams under 4.0. They will continue delivering the current version until June of 2018. That's 3.5 years! The average time is 2 years to complete the AREs. This is more than enough for those of you just starting out or already in the middle of them. 

Content- 5.0 will have six sections as compared to the seven sections in 4.0. As mentioned above these are an attempt at aligning more closely with how architecture is in reality. The sections are: Practice Management, Project Management, Programming & Analysis, Project Planning & Design, Project Development & Documentation and Construction & Evaluation. These names will become synonymous with the AREs as we get closer to the 5.0 release.

Graphics and software- the graphic vignettes and software will be overhauled. Yes this means that horribly inaccurate prehistoric software will be no more. Hopefully they have a more user friendly version which won't hinder candidates purely due to program peculiarities. I am looking forward to how the user interface will be. 

Cost- it appears NCARB has not released the cost just yet. If I were to guess, I'd say it will cost more that the current $210. So expect it. 

There you have it! Check out the NCARB website for more information on the 5.0. Here are a few links to important info on 5.0: 

Jared W. Smith, R.A. 

This website/blog is not affiliated with NCARB and is not endorsed or sanctioned by NCARB. Here is a reminder from NCARB given to those using websites to prepare for the ARE.

Confidentiality Agreement pertaining to taking exams:
"I understand that the content of this examination is confidential. I agree that I will not divulge any questions on this examination to any individual or entity. I understand that the unauthorized possession, reproduction, or disclosure of any examination materials, including the nature or content of examination questions, before during or after the examination is in violation of law. A violation of this type can result in a civil liability and/or disciplinary action by my Board of Architecture."

July 2, 2014

The City is My Living Room

Like many urbanites starting out in New York, I rent a small studio that can fit a bed, a desk, a bike and a kitchen fit for one person. My laundry room is down the block and my pantry is on the opposite street corner. I have a library in the East Village and a gym in Midtown. The city is my living room and the streets between my activities are corridors with windows into other private realms. A vast proportion of the urban fabric is a transient space. The forces that shaped these spaces – namely, the trajectory of the automobile - are becoming less influential and a new spatial network is emerging at a rapid pace. In the overlap with my neighbor and my own distributed dwelling patterns, there could exist radical new living spaces for a generation of people enjoying people (on a budget). 

Envision an innovative spatial network and new kind of housing called Bitroom. This 
decentralized concept of living has many spaces that can be dispersed in the city based on activity and interaction. The idea proposes a series of open-source environments that are influenced by many users and offer temporary benefit to the individual. In this model, the core dwelling functions like sleeping and washing remain private spaces with a permanent address (where soap is delivered), but all other Bitrooms are made available collectively by the network. 

Think of Bitroom as a dynamic peer-to-peer exchange of living space on a daily timeframe. 
Imagine having a drawing studio downtown, a gaming room on the west side, or a BYOB lounge in Brooklyn. The cost to have all of these rooms in one Manhattan dwelling would be so excessive and eliminate social pollination in an age when collecting attention has come to be valued over privacy. These circumstances point to a new common territory for the urban demographic that operate between couch surfing and time-share ownership. Through Bitroom, the apparatus of ownership is questioned and space assumes its own value as a trading device in the system. 

Semi-public urban amenities like cafes, bars, and theaters require financial exchange in order to engage with these shared environments; one must make a monetary contribution by buying a coffee, a beer or ticket. This financial obligation sets up an economic barrier for the expansion of living beyond the private realm. The decoupling of spaces for trading (retail) from the trading of spaces (living) has the potential to transform the physical city. This would require spaces to be carved out of the city in existing buildings or reclaiming the public right-of-way. 

The terms of operation could be modeled after a distributed consensus system in which the 
rooms are open and free for all users willing to partake. Bitrooms could be accessed through a mining process that unpacks access to them from the urban block. This idea of “mining” creates the equivalent of a competitive lottery that prevents any individual from monopolizing one space and cultivates vested users. Rather than exchanging money, an exchange of space itself occurs through a virtual “check-in” to one room, which releases the unused blocks back into the network for others to access. A maximum occupancy is set for each room and as this limit is reached other rooms become active. Over time, a high demand for Bitrooms triggers further mining, until a robust web populates the urban fabric. 

A spatial network like this proposition may take shape in underused pieces of primary urban 
localities. The off-street parking space has often eluded urban usefulness in a post automobile-centric era but has been reimagined on the West Coast. The “Parklet” program repurposes this zone into open public space sponsored by neighboring businesses. It is a remarkable mechanism of increasing communal space accessible to all while reflecting the diversity of those who modify it. This remarkable concept has taken leaps and bounds on implementing shared resources, however it stays at the level of the streetscape. The idea of Bitroom could introduce common territories beyond the urban park or plaza by responding to a new architectural typology that provokes the role of the city and the shrinking dimensions of urban housing.

 The future city will increasingly demand newcomers like me to pay more for less private space. The trade-off is proximity to cultural conveniences but that also costs more money. This trend, combined with the de-emphasis on privacy in the era of status updates and geo-located check-ins, sets up a structure for a new kind of housing. The inefficiencies built into the urban fabric are leftover from organizing principals of past regimes. Bitroom is an ideal living configuration that changes with the days of the week and each user puts a personal stamp on the environment. Basic human needs anchor dwellers to a bed at night but every movement in between could reshape the environment. When I think of the city as a living room, my frame of mind shifts and I no longer see a separation of architectural objects but rather an occupation of connected space. Emerging living formations require a radical adaptation of the physical city where shareholding materializes through decentralized spatial assets.

Rosannah Sandoval, R.A.

May 14, 2014

Road Trip to Architect, USA

The road to becoming an architect seems the longest at the beginning.  No matter which map you use starting the journey to becoming an architect can be an interesting… hectic… smooth… bumpyride.  I took the scenic route to architecture.  After always having the desire to design I focused on architecture and interiors.  Throughout my graduate studies I became increasingly interested in the social aspects of design, which drove my decision to enter the AmeriCorps program after graduation.  Unsure of how I wanted to start IDP, and unaware of all the details I enrolled and was able to log some hours until I met the limit of hours possible without working under a registered architect.  My AmeriCorps position was with the Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Charlotte, NC.  I spent 2 years working in construction and in community development.  Both task were aspects of architecture, yet not completelyrecognized as IDP hour “worthy”.  Although I loved it, with only about 900 hours of appropriate IDP hours in 2 years, I decided to enter into the traditional process and become an intern.  I am currently working in a small firm under a registered architect so that I can complete my training hours.  After a few months of working, I enrolled in an ARE study class led by the local AIA chapter, which has been helpful to reduce my fear of testing.

As I continue to study on my own I made a plan and timeline for how I want to complete the process.  In talking to colleagues about it, I’ve found that no one has done it the same way, so using a collection of methods to formulate my own gives me solace that I have the freedom to make my own way.  It also gives me nightmares that my way not be the best Although I have not taken any test yet, there are a few things that are making my journey less painful and pushing me to work through the studying and working phase that I am in.

The first one is encouragement.  Every time I open my ARE review manual I am reminded how hard my life is.  While I love to learn, the mere fact of studying for numerous exams for the next 2 years, or more, or maybe less, causes occasional restless nights. Noticing the distant I have yet to travel, I feel as if myM.Arch was a small stepping-stone in the grand scheme of this journey.  Although valuable, the real work begins now.  

Secondly, accountability is very important As an “emerging professional in the architecture industry”, staying liable for my process is arguably the hardest part.  The flexibility or the rolling clock and the freedom of testing times could be a procrastinator’s demise Find a friend to constantly or occasional ask you about your progress, so that you hold responsibility for staying on task.

 Justify the process, why it is in place and why you believe in completing it As my third tip, I think it is important to know why all this is even necessary, and going further to define what it means to you.  Often I walk into large building and think about all the design decisions that have gone into creating the space.  From the huge things down to the smallest details, architects must be well versed in communicating the intent on many levels While I know passing the ARE’s and completing IDP does not make you a great architect, the completion of the process gives you the opportunity to practiceindependently and be respected.  

Forth, which maybe should be first, is being aware of the possibilities and rules.  There are various ways to get IDP hours, outside of working in a traditional setting.  Always be up to date on what NCARB issuggesting Also be aware of the process in the state accreditation board as well, which varies state to state.  The IDP process is intricate.   NCARB has a growing number of resources that are available for interns on the road to licensure.  Take the time to follow all that is available so that you are able to use the information and make your journey less frustrating.

Lastly, remember… You are not alone!  It is always nice to know you are enduring the process amongst many. Someone else in this world is up at 1am reading about construction documents and looking at building sections as well.  Though you may be far apart and probably strangers, it gives me some comfort knowing that there were those before me who have passed; those with me who are pressing toward the official “Architect” title, and those behind me whom I will one day be an example for.  Press On!