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Career Story: Architect Designing Public Buildings

Architect Designing Public Buildings

Job Title: Architect

Type of Company: I work for an architecture firm which provides design services in architecture, landscape architecture and interior design. We design buildings for Education, Government and Institutions.

Education: University of Guelph, Ontario, Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of design, Master of Architecture, Master of Landscape Architecture.

Previous Experience: Summer work in landscape architects office during college, five years in the practice of landscape architecture in Toronto with a firm that practiced landscape architecture, planning and civil engineering, I was a junior landscape architect when I started and the senior landscape architect when I left for graduate school.

Job Tasks: My role as one of the owners of the architecture firm that I work for, varies greatly from day to day. My responsibilities are primarily the design of buildings, but this involves periods of working alone on design problems, periods of working with a team of architects developing the design and periods of working with consultants such as structural and mechanical engineers who are developing the design for systems for the buildings that we are working on.

In addition, I am responsible for finding work for our firm, managing its finances, hiring new employees and dealing with conflicts between people in the office. On occasion I am involved in contract and legal issues related to our projects.

On any day, about a third of what I need to do is planned and the other two thirds is in response to changing conditions, such as computer problems, dealing with our building owner over repairs, or taking calls from prospective clients and consultants. We meet weekly to share information and to discuss issues of relevance to the entire firm and we have directors meetings to discuss important issues.

The great constant for me is the work on the design of buildings, as this is where my real interest and education lie.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of my job are when we are working with my colleagues on a design problem, sharing ideas and information, working with our many interesting consultants and working with our clients on a project. Helping people work through a design problem using three dimensional skills is the most rewarding.

The least rewarding is dealing with interpersonal problems that in most cases people could solve themselves if they would step outside of their short term views for a moment.

Job Tips:
1. As a student, go and work in an office for a summer to see what people really do and to see how they progress over time. focus on the skills that they need to do their work and the rate at which the demand for those skills changes over time.

2) Never be afraid to take a low level position, you will rise to the level of your ability and often a low level entry position is a place of great opportunity to learn.

3) Plan to never stop learning, and develop a program to do so. Professions change rapidly and for one who learns constantly this can be a real benefit to growth and advancement.

Additional Thoughts: Visit schools that teach architecture and talk to both the professors and the students about what they are learning and how they are doing it. Go to construction sites to see building built. Often you can see what is going on without going into the building on a tour, but by simply watching and taking notes. Talk to a variety of practitioners since they type of work that architects do varies greatly. Take drawing courses and learn to build models. Look at how the world around you is made and what it is made of. Architecture is not a 'private' profession, we all live and work in houses, schools and buildings of many sorts. There is a great deal of information about architecture to be seen by simply looking at buildings.

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