Architecture is a career that involves a combination of creativity, innovation, research, and ideas. An architect’s unique thought process and knowledge will determine the design of a project and its use of space and functionality, as well as aesthetics. When walking through a building and admiring the scenery, you wonder how did the architect come up with this grand idea, and how did they get it to work so efficiently and beautifully? The answer is through architecture school. From world-renowned architects like Zaha Hadid and Norman Foster to any freshly graduated architecture student, these people all have one thing in common: they went to architecture college where they developed themselves and their designs.
Whether you are just starting your career in higher education or have already completed some years as a bachelor student or master student, architecture school is significantly different than other majors. In the studio and your other architectural-related courses, you will learn to design prominent spaces and enhance your technical skills. Some students might come in with prior knowledge of design software like AutoCAD or Rhino. Others may have some familiarity with rendering programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. And then some have zero to little prior experience with any of these programs. Regardless of the student’s past situation, everyone is there to enrich their knowledge and come out with a wider grasp of designing. With a combination of students with different levels of experience, an architecture college teaches you to take initiative and educate yourself on researching buildings, materials, and designers. You learn to use your free time, however little that may be, to develop your skills in software programs and therefore improve the quality of your work. Through this experience, you graduate out of architecture school with a more developed set of technical skills and a stronger sense of initiative.
Architects are not born with advanced knowledge of the De Stijl movement and constructivism architecture. But if your architecture history class assigned an essay on the Schroder-Schrader house, that student will come out with new-found awareness about it and the ability to conduct research. By conducting research students learn about different techniques, design ideas, and historical projects, and they can gain inspiration to implement into their designs. No two designs can be entirely the same if they come from different people. Therefore, through architecture school and the research they conduct during their time there, the student can learn what they do and do not like, and develop their unique style of designing.
Being an architecture student involves countless hours working on models and drawings, among other work for additional classes and extracurricular activities. In design school, you quickly learn that time management is essential to being successful, as a student as and as a person. After spending your third consecutive all-nighter trying to finish a model, you realize how essential it is to manage your time correctly. With the intense workload and constant deadlines needing to be met, architecture students have a good opportunity to learn to prioritize tasks and manage their time wisely. As architect David Chipperfield once said, “the difference between good and bad architecture is how much time you spend on it”. If you put a sufficient amount of time in comprehending and building around your idea and concept, the design will be much more developed than if you rushed to complete the bare minimum. With the enhanced time management skills that you acquire as an architecture student, the difficult deadlines you face as a professional become a lot simpler to accomplish.
Another important lesson taught in architecture college is learning how to take criticism, while still standing up for your design. On the day of your presentation, it is difficult to believe that your design and presentation is not perfect. You remember the hours you have spent on it, and could not imagine someone not comprehending or liking it. But assuming you are like most students, there is always something that could be improved on. Professors and critics use constructive criticism to tell you what you could have done better. Maybe your presentation skills need development, or your models and drawings are not easy to follow. It could even be your design as a whole. Architecture college is meant to allow you to advance your design thinking, perfect your technical skills, and learn to express your ideas with words that your clients and colleagues can follow. With that being said, it is also important to know how to respectfully defend your concept and ideas. You are the principal architect in your project and should be able to explain your work clearly as well and answer any questions they may ask. After all the final presentations and critics you face in architecture school, you should come out of it knowing how to have a constructive dialogue and learn from feedback and criticism.
Architecture college can differ significantly from other majors. It requires a lot of time, personal initiative, and openness to learning. Besides the technical aspects of the profession, like understanding software, conducting research, and expanding your architectural vocabulary, pursuing an architectural education also teaches you important life lessons that you implement into your professional and personal life. You learn how to handle criticism, regardless of your own beliefs on the design, as well as how to defend it. In addition, you learn how to handle different sized public presentations, making it more comfortable to talk to clients as a professional. You also develop highly valuable time management skills that can be beneficial in any field. While the difficulties of architecture college are not for everyone, those who pursue will inherit a unique set of technical skills and personal benefits, as well as the ability to enhance their overall design thinking and process, making them the best architect they can be.