The Internship Guide 1: What Are the 2 Major Kinds of Design Firms?

Architecture is learned best through practice.

And when I say practice, I mean hands-on, integrative, and synthesizing work. The kind that makes you take everything you know and piece them together in a meaningful puzzle.

It’s for this reason that reading books day-in and day-out without any application probably won’t give you the best retention and bang-for-your-buck.

The solution? Practice. And make sure you’re in the best environment possible while doing it. The kind that makes you feel the weight of your actions, gives each line purpose, and provides you with mentors that hold you accountable for your output – like an architectural office.

I’m a firm believer that every architecture student should experience working for a firm or sole practice at least once before they graduate.

I spent two summers of my undergrad life as an apprentice, intern (and eventual employee), and they were invaluable learning experiences. The kind that expanded my view of the truths of the practice, and made my succeeding works a whole lot more guided.

But of course, there are lots of things to consider and be aware of when dipping your toes into the workplace. It isn’t all fun and games, and there some very important decisions and attitudes you need to be cognizant of.

This series of posts entitled “The Internship Guide” number things you should be very receptive to, so you can get the most of each and every day.

To start off, let’s talk about the two most common organizational set ups of a typical architectural design office, starting the discourse on which one could be better for you based on your own needs. Continue reading The Internship Guide 1: What Are the 2 Major Kinds of Design Firms?

The 6 Guggenheim Helsinki Competition Finalists Have Been Announced!

Last October, I giddily posted about the Designing Guggenheim Helsinki competition, practically jumping up and down on my keyboard.

Check this out first if you aren’t yet aware: Check Out the 1,715 Entries! The Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition has Rocked the World. 

My fervor was justified. After all, the recent architectural slugfest was officially the largest architectural design competition of all-time, grossing 1,715 approved entries. And from this ocean of proposals, the jury and organization were then faced with the daunting task of picking 6 finalists.

And they’ve done it. By Jove, they’ve done it. Continue reading The 6 Guggenheim Helsinki Competition Finalists Have Been Announced!

Don’t Be Discouraged: Why Having A Flawed First Design Project is NORMAL. (Q&A #4)

Q: "How do you feel about the early designs you did as a freshman or sophomore in architecture school? How did they look like?"

It’s a question I’ve been getting often as of late, so I thought I’d semi-formally answer it on the blog.

I chuckle a little bit whenever I’m asked this, because it involves me looking at my own motivations and process at the time, and comparing them to what I know now. 

And there is a really big disparity between the two.

Quite simply, I can say now that my approaches back then were flawed, unrestrained, form-centric more than they were occupant-centric, and paradoxically incohesive. They were messy and didn’t consider a lot of things properly.

But that’s fine. Because that’s how a lot of our early works really do end up.

It’s a rite of passage of sorts, especially for this generation of contemporary designers that are giddy to produce iconic forms. (This ain’t all bad. At least it means you aren’t settling for boring architecture.)

It’s normal, and in some ways, needed in order for you to discover how to develop as a budding architect.

Besides, if I were designing the same way today as I was when I was a freshman, then it either means I didn’t need architecture school (yeah, sure), or I didn’t grow at all.

Today I’m going to discuss a few of my earlier design projects, how I worked on them at the time, and what I amusingly saw when I looked back at them. The three are my first two houses, and an archaeological studies center for within the university.  Continue reading Don’t Be Discouraged: Why Having A Flawed First Design Project is NORMAL. (Q&A #4)

22 Simple Guidelines for the Successful Architecture Student

"Victory is the child of preparation and determination". ~ Sean Hampton

Today, I thought I’d give a bit of a token piece for the new readers, for them to get an easy overview of all the topics Archi Student Help has covered in its first 50 pages or so. 

From me to you, here’s a 22 point summary of the blog’s take-home points for young designers thus far, geared at helping you become your best self yet. If you find them helpful, please – feel free to share them with your friends. 

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1. Discover early on what it really means to design. And in-grain it into your thinking.

2. Understand that the best take-home from every project isn’t a pretty rendering, but a more-informed design process.

3. Prioritize your health. Consider that life is a marathon and not a sprint.

4. Invest in your brain power. Integrate life-hacks into a comprehensive program to keep you revved like a well-tuned car.

5. Become process-oriented. It will make you happier, more consistent, and will give you solid self-worth. Continue reading 22 Simple Guidelines for the Successful Architecture Student

When A Toilet Costs More Than A HOUSE.

A common oversight by young architecture students is to pay little attention to the finer strokes of a design’s intent.

The little nuances are definitely important, and add flourish and aptness to the spaces you create. As architects, you’re going to be exposed to a wide spectrum of clients, from various demographics, earning capacities, and levels of luxury.

You’re going to have to find design solutions to cater to their tastes, wants, and budget – from the pragmatic to the super rich. And sometimes, the difference is in something simple – like picking a toilet.

A knowledge of technology is one way that facilitates an apt connection between user and designer – in order to support a lifestyle.

To demonstrate this, we’re going to do a comparison on seemingly one of the most mundane fixtures that architects specify – the humble water closet.

A toilet is a toilet, yes?

Not so fast. Continue reading When A Toilet Costs More Than A HOUSE.

The 5 People You Meet in Every Project: Who Are You REALLY Designing For?

"Our thinking is a pious reception". ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today we’re going to open up your brain and look inside for a bit – in order to realize some very important stuff.

Don’t fret, and don’t run away. This is an exercise in meta-thinking. And as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, meta-thinking is a great tool for gaining meaningful insight about your own design process.

After all, once you understand how your thinking process ticks, you’ll be able to determine your cogs in the system, weed them out, and become a better designer in the process.

This post covers something extremely critical: your motivations. 

When you handle your studio projects, who are you really designing for?

In going about your design process, whose face are you picturing with each line? Who is the end goal that your architecture must satisfy? With each little move, each element, each nuance, whose nod of approval are you primarily valuing?

You’ll be surprised at the many possible answers, their implications, and what they say about your own aspirations.

So then – as you look purposely at your finished architectural program, sketch on a napkin, get your hands goey with your sketch model, or manipulate shells and fabrics on Sketchup or Rhino, who is primarily on your mind?
Continue reading The 5 People You Meet in Every Project: Who Are You REALLY Designing For?

12 Ways to Increase Brain Power For Architecture School – PART 2

Previous: 12 Ways to Increase Brain Power for Architecture School – PART 1

In the first part of “12 Ways to Increase Your Brain for Architecture School”, I gave my first six life-hacks for keeping your mind clear, powerful, and alert for those long lecture days and even longer work nights.

In case you need a bit of refreshing:

  1. Ditch the sugar.
  2. Get enough sleep at night.
  3. Drink enough water.
  4. Make sure you’re getting enough Omega-3s.
  5. Make nuts your snack of choice.
  6. Enjoy a cup of brewed coffee.

Today I want to continue the chain and add a few more brilliant, effective things you can do to help your brain stay revved in high gear.

Implement the complete twelve in a comprehensive and quantified program, and you my friend are setting your brain for some serious pampering throughout life.  Continue reading 12 Ways to Increase Brain Power For Architecture School – PART 2

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