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!  


May 6, 2014

Architecture of years past

I got a chance to survey a 1880s landmark residential building in the Soho area of Manhattan. These units were full floors with three exposures. An elevator core & stairwell adjoined the two buildings to one. I briefly snap a few shots as I worked. 

The wood work and iron inlay was detailed and telling of the lavish owners who inhabited the units. (Looks amazingly good for its age. Installed later in the life of the building??) 

I can only imagine the many letters dropped down this chute. Letters of love, business acquisitions or maybe just a simple hello. 

I came across this gem. Most may just say, "it's just a door." This is far more than just a door. This curved door is original to the apartment and served a middle room adjacent to the bedroom. This unique item would be very costly to construct by today's standards. Especially if it were expected to last 130yrs. I was glad to see this entire installation removed whole and relocated within a unit being renovated and modernized at a lower level.  

And lastly there was a pocket door. Simple in theory but not utilized much today though it was and still is a great space saver. A joyous experience as I survey necessary building repairs. 

Jared W Smith, R.A.