Career Story: Architect For Commercial Projects

Architect For Commercial Projects

Job Title: Architect

Type of Company: My company is an architectural firm designing commercial projects such as stores, condominiums, offices and theatres.

Education: B.Arch, Montana State University •• M.Arch, Montana State University

Previous Experience: I worked for an architectural firm in San Antonio, Texas for about 8 years before moving to Boston. I worked for another firm in Boston for about 7 years and then started my own architectural design firm.

Job Tasks: We work with clients on designing their buildings, their additions, their space so that they can have the type of space/building that they want or need. We do building code reviews, zoning code reviews, and whatever other code-related issues arise for a particular site or location.

Once we have completed the design that they like and that meets their needs, we prepare a set of construction documents that outlines for the contractor what needs to be built and how to do it. Those drawings go to a number of different contractors so that they can prepare a price for the client. We determine which of the contractors will be the best one to build this project and the client hires them.

Once construction starts, we go to the job site regularly to make sure the building is being built the way we designed it and to meet with the contractor to answer any questions that might come up.

On a day to day basis, my job varies. Some days I do office work to keep the accounts and management stuff in order and other days I do a variety of project-related tasks: designing, drawing the details, talking to engineers, talking to code officials, selecting finishes, going to see products that we want to use.

This is a small firm so my day-to-day job varies a lot more than it would if I were working for a large firm.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The two best parts of my job are coming up with the design and then, once the project's been built, having the client satisfied and happy with the solution.

The worst part of my job is dunning clients for money.

Job Tips: If you're going to open your own architectural office, learn as much as you can about the following: Office and money management. Interfacing with clients and how to manage them. How to manage employees. Legal issues related to this profession - contracts, liability, etc. But, of course, you need to really love what you're doing. That will carry you through the tough stuff!

Additional Thoughts: Architecture is a field that offers many different options for many different careers in building and design. It is also a volatile field, so it is important to keep other options open and to be able to think creatively about your career for the times when there isn't very much work in the profession. One thing that has carried me through the difficult things that I have to do is that I really love buildings and architecture. Passion for this field (or whatever field you choose) helps with happiness in what you do day-to-day. Architecture is an ever-changing profession so being open to learning new things and obtaining new information all the time is helpful. That is one thing that I like most about this profession: each project is usually different, each client is different, products change with new ones being developed all the time. I really love what I do!

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