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ArchDaily News 21 Rules for a Successful Life in Architecture

21 Rules for a Successful Life in Architecture


00:00 - 18 September, 2014 | by Kevin J Singh

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Originally published by Entrepreneur Architect, Associate Professor at Louisiana Tech Kevin J Singh gives his 21-point rundown of how to have a
successful and happy life as an architect. The list gives some pointers that will certainly help young students and graduates, but may well be useful
to some of the not-so-young practitioners who need to refocus on what's important.

The following is a compilation of my professional practice lecture on the last day of class. Instead of recapping the course or giving a final exam, I
share with my students a presentation titled Advice as You Finish School and Start to Practice. I present a series of statements followed up with a
brief explanation.


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1. Get Started on Your Career Path

You can start earning IDP hours right a er high school graduation.
If you haven’t already, sign up for IDP and get started on the path to licensure!

2. Don't Get Caught Up in "Old Guard" Firms

The youth are the future.


Firms need to embrace the ideas, energy and enthusiasm of young people.
Be observant as to what the Millennials in the o ice are doing.
Make sure emerging professionals are valued in the firms you are interviewing with for full-time employment.

3. Networking = The Key to Advancement

Get to know everyone in the Architecture community and allied fields (all ages and experience levels).
Don’t underestimate the value of AIA membership and networking opportunities.


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4. Don't Get Upset by Clients that Think They Know Everything About Architecture

Be patient.
Educate and show multiple options (divergent thought processes) to open up thinking.
Be a professional.
Remember that you were educated as an ARCHITECT (not him/her).

5. Don't Burn Bridges

The Architectural world is way too small.


Your actions and decisions will be remembered.

6. Look Out for #1

It is your career and yours alone.


Make sure you are getting the appropriate experience (IDP), opportunities and compensation.
If you aren’t, MOVE ON!!!

7. Voice Your Opinions

The best ideas are never incorporated into projects unless they are heard, presented, and defended.
Many processes in firms and details on projects can be improved if you simply point out a better solution to decision makers.
An improvement is always appreciated by principals and clients.


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8. You Must Design Your Career and Position

All of us are Unique = Unique jobs/positions


Continually reflect on your experiences to determine what you really want to do.
Make career decisions to attain this position.

9. Di erentiate Yourself

Develop your unique skills and abilities.


Demonstrate how they make you a better employee and contributor.
Potentially utilize these skills to go out on your own.

10. Don't Confuse an Internship with Full-Time Employment

An internship introduces you to how a firm and projects work.


Full-time employment mandates responsibility for your work and productivity (deadlines).
Full-time employment = STRESS!!!

11. Technology Will Lead the Way

You must stay at the forefront of technology.


Volunteer to learn new so ware and lead firm implementation.
Learn BIM and become proficient while in school.

12. Sustainability is Your Calling and Opportunity

If you endeavor to learn a lot about sustainability while in school, you will be able to share your knowledge with current practitioners and
become peers. ›
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Take the sustainability lead within your firm.


Become a LEED Green Associate while in school.

13. You Need to be a Champion of Sustainably Built Environments

You must educate EVERYONE about sustainability.


Future clients will be the result.

14. Build Community

Only 2% can a ord the services of an Architect.


What are you doing to help the other 98%?
Get involved in your community.

15. Save the Profession

Architects aren’t compensated fairly because the general public doesn’t value (or know) what we do.
Teach-Share-Show-Demonstrate to others how we improve the world.

16. Education Doesn't End in School

You must continually learn to stay at the forefront of materials, systems and technology.
Don’t let the world pass you by.

17. Mentor

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Help teach the next generation.


A two-way street (look up, look back).
You will learn something in the process, and be reminded why you joined this profession.

18. Never Get Grumpy

Continually be inspired by the next generation and harness their optimism and energy.
Be a positive and optimistic employee.

19. Fix Something

The world is full of problems.


Choose one or two things, and fix them.

20. Complete the Task

You set out to become an Architect… so take the A.R.E. and become one.
Keep your eyes on the prize!!!

21. Final Thought

The easiest building to design is a box, but Architects don’t design boxes.
Architecture is about serving others through the design of the built environment. Make sure your work is the best it can be through its service to
others and contribution to a more sustainably built world.

I hope this list provides you with an opportunity to think back to your time finishing school and embarking on your career. If you could go back and
give advice to your younger self, what would you say? What advice would you give to the next generation of architects? Please share your thoughts
in the comments below.

Kevin Singh is an Associate Professor of Architecture in the School of Design at Louisiana Tech University and has served as Director of the
Community Design Activism Center (CDAC) since joining the faculty in 2006. He currently teaches courses in community design, 4th year studios
and professional practice.

Kevin is a graduate of Ball State University (B.Arch.) and Auburn University (MBC). He has served on the Board of Directors of the Association for
Community Design (ACD) since 2012, and is currently serving on the Executive Board as Treasurer. He was recently named a 40 Under 40 honoree
by Building Design + Construction magazine.

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snell blitz > Guest • 3 years ago


genuine modern brainwash bullshit! do not go there if you have low self esteem. Peace
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Pedro Vieira > snell blitz • a year ago


what was the original comment?

the answer leaves me curious.


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J Murdoch • 6 months ago


Thank you for this!
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NoLiberals • 8 months ago


This article is absolute BS
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Urbane Infra • a year ago


VERY HELPFUL...THANKS...
Teaching and the Youth are definitely the most important tools for a better architecture.
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GSG • 2 years ago


Thanks! Good job!
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Jalen Wyatt • 2 years ago


I am 16 and desire to join in the world of architecture, and even at this young age I find this article to be very helpful/ insightful.
1△ ▽ • Reply • Share ›

A student • 2 years ago


I take this article as an opportunity to say what i think about architecture istruction and the "monastic" process we have to experience.
There are some points:
- Focus on exams, career, programs and the image overload/magazines, forget about culture, books, life experiences and family. Yes, an architect
doesn't need to experience life like the other intellectual part of umanity, but don't be scared, you'll fill it with arrogance and "self esteem".

- Turn your subjectivity into objectivity, we are unique, everyone is unique, context is a useless word nowadays (like "cooperation" or "society").
- Don't get caught in the "old guard" firms, books and history, try just to be cool.
- Do not try to say something about contemporary architecture's composition, do not even try.
I'm obviously ironic, i hope i'll not offend someone, i'm just tired of a not cooperative architecture community, full of contraddictions and impolite
people (the new century mind is strong in the architect's world).
We build sustainable buildings but not a sustainable humanity.
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ryan • 2 years ago


im 13 and dreamed of having this job till today this is really helped me out a lot thanks
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simpleastruth • 2 years ago



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You ruined your article with this sentence:
"Full-time employment = STRESS!!!"
Now you should write another one: "How to deal with the stress as an Architect."
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Adam • 2 years ago


Where were you with those "clever tips" few years ago when there was still hope?
After two years of volunteering and ungrateful employers, I am changing my career..it is not worth the sacrifice.
Not to mention all the "creative architecture" they teach us at Universities.. sure it exists, but it doesn't pay the bills.
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Kev Lazarte • 2 years ago


thanks for this.
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Ali • 3 years ago


It was useful
thanks.
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Maggie • 3 years ago


great article!
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nick • 3 years ago


architecture is only for people with a high self esteem
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edwin • 3 years ago


Architecture are not just beauty but function, space management, Fung Shui for a successful projects. i made billionaires thru my designs.
Architecture for good economical structural from the architect. Designing Condo in Global era is like designing the wild. Nature created habitat for
all type of animals and so people more, Scientist Architect must design a dwellings that offers habitat for all type of people in all walks of life to be
safe, privacy, peace of mind. Considering other cultures, ways of other people.
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edwin • 3 years ago


we welcome collaboration with other country and we shall share other ideas and crossbreed designs are like crossbreed Filipino to any kind, they
are excellent product. Welcome to the Philippines. we encourage retirees from any country who will settle down our paradise, extend pension and
extend life,rather staying in home for the aged. spend the rest of your life with young wife and this is the best second life you could ever had. buy
our by the bay cottages residences home.
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edwin • 3 years ago


For me Architecture and details to be authentic say Asian Concept of Architecture. ordinary section of a simple roof eaves gutter from an ordinary
layman's design from an architect ideas are not same. Establishing character and identity of the country that you design for.In any profession
bottom line the price, PF, that are lower and yet nice designs. unless you are already famous, any pf will do. they will fall in line for your service.
Anything you designs they accept even it's not good and appropriate.
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BK • 3 years ago
22. Do it YOUR way. ARE, LEED, BIM, AIA.... pretty much anything with an acronym is either a tax, a waste of your talent, or is a relic of a bygone
era. Figure out what you want to work on and then find a way to work on it. Work is what makes you good, not letters behind your name.
23. Find something else in your life that you love besides architecture. Ceramics, fashion design, graphics, gardening, writing, building furniture....
Find something you like outside of architecture and do it as much as you can. It will bring you vast wisdom in ways you never imagined.
24. Laugh about it all. It's just architecture.
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ColoradoWinemaker • 3 years ago


Here's a few more for your reality check: 1.) Remember to watch you back - somebody else is always after your job. The days of looking out for
each other are over. 2.) Be aware that marketers are full of ideas about how they can better themselves at your expense, before they move on their
next employer. Don't trust them - they lack any semblance of loyalty. 3.) Remember that the Client hires the professional they want to work with,
not the marketing person. 4.) Live up to your commitments; underpromise, overdeliver. 5.) Be honest with your client, yourself and your employer.
6.) Keep your compensation secret between you and your employer. It's nobody else's business. ›
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Nemanja • 3 years ago


This is nice, but where are rules for a successful architecture in life ?
1△ ▽ • Reply • Share ›

Arleixo • 3 years ago


Sorry for the typos. I'm typing on my phone.
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Arleixo • 3 years ago


I started architecture school when I was three years old, I use to say. I was for my whole life so determined to become one. I did, went to take my
master abroad, attended to a sustainable design program from a very respected university, worked in three different well know architecture offices
abroad....It was sooooo hard the whole process....Came back to my country and started my own office....nobody seems to understand what am
architect does, nobody gets aback to my bids, they just think it will cost 1/5 of the real price for the work. I got so desapointed....I spent all my
savings in the office project, but the worse thing is realizing that it does not fulfill me because it's so different from what I dreamed of.....I'm starting
fashion design school this year. Why? Because life is too short to be stragglimg with somethings. Im too tired of all these learn this new software,
teach that, get that client, networking and all the rest... I do t care if I don't get super ultra siccessful. I just ant to be happy with my work!!!
5△ ▽ • Reply • Share ›

Psychartic • 3 years ago


To my younger self: build your network and do internships abroad while you're studying. Afterwards it will be too late
1△ ▽ • Reply • Share ›

rupesh • 3 years ago


dream big and follow it with all your force, don't forget that hard work is the prime key to success.
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Jonathan Barnes • 3 years ago


One important piece of advice missing here: if you're not getting the salary or experience you're looking for at your current firm, ASK FOR IT, before
you decide to leave and look for it elsewhere. Don't assume you won't get what you ask for.
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rupesh > Jonathan Barnes • 3 years ago


perfect one,..
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angra • 3 years ago


Buildings Architecture teaching should stop.
There is no need for it.

Yes. I placed some word behind because systems architecture is useful, same as software architecture. But buildings architecture, as a black box
and no logical structure, has no real use.

People can build buildings without paying egocentric render artists.


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mauritzionebunu > angra • 3 years ago


U should speak for yourself myfriend..or better, not spek at all...go live in the forest if u find buildings unnecessary
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jon • 3 years ago


someone got paid to write this?
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CEO • 3 years ago


Have you ever wanted to live in the world of Pokemon? Would you like to travel with your friends through woods, caves, towns, and cities to engage
in hyper-realistic Pokemon battles? Read more to realize the potential for a Pokemon Theme Park.

The setting of the theme park would be a pristine island. The Island would be covered in various terrains, as well as different communities that all
have a unique personality. Guests at the park would interact both with each other and paid actors who play the parts of all the familiar characters
from the Pokemon franchise. The background story to the Park would be that visitors are competitors in a massive Pokemon Tournament. They
get to travel around the island and stay in a variety of Hotel accommodations (i.e. campsites, small inns, and even tall futuristic towers). The


Pokemon battles would be held in special arenas that are spread out through the park. The technology that would be used to bring the Pokemon to
life is already familiar to concertgoers all over the world--holographic projection. The theme park experience would be fully integrated with the
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Pokemon video games. Visitors to the park would have the opportunity to 'import' their Pokemon from their Nintendo DSs and Gameboys. Weekly
top scorers in the Park could win prizes and have their battles displayed on screens in 'battle lounges' throughout the park. There would also be a
variety of side quests for visitors to discover and take part in.
4△ ▽ • Reply • Share ›

ss • 3 years ago
NEVER USE YOUNGER's FEVER.
Some stupid firms just exploit their skills with less salary and just say u learn lots of things in my office.
7△ ▽ • Reply • Share ›

OB1Kanobi > ss • 3 years ago


Your right there...
1△ ▽ • Reply • Share ›

jswarc • 3 years ago


Marry someone with a well-paying job.
27 △ ▽ • Reply • Share ›

OB1Kanobi > jswarc • 3 years ago


That's my plan... hahaha!!!
1△ ▽ • Reply • Share ›

Artefacts • 3 years ago


Never work with a pervert partner.
10 △ ▽ • Reply • Share ›

OB1Kanobi > Artefacts • 3 years ago


Wise words.
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Ibo • 3 years ago


One more tip! NEVER EVER WORK IN THE PRODUCTION DEPARTMENT AT AN ARCHITECTURE FIRM! YOUR CREATIVITY WILL DIE!
11 △ ▽ • Reply • Share ›

OB1Kanobi > Ibo • 3 years ago


been there, not going back
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JohnMicah Wandaga • 3 years ago


im freshmen architecture student . can you give some tips ?
1△ ▽ • Reply • Share ›

Hunter > JohnMicah Wandaga • 3 years ago


If you're going to continue, do it because you love it. Some people get into the profession for unrealistic reasons, like money, and are sorely
disappointed later. Be prepared for long hours and hard work...there's no getting around it if you're going to be worth anything to anyone,
including yourself. My first year design professor said that Architecture and design are often like a monastic following to those of us who
practice it fully. It's not for the squeamish and our friends and families often don't understand or appreciate what we do.

Despite all of the cautions against doing production, you'd better learn how things go together or you're going to be a useless designer. You
can't design with materials or systems that you don't understand.

And for God's sake, learn how to write! Take some creative writing or literature courses. I constantly shake my head at the poor writing skills
of many of the people coming out of school. Poor writing skills only illuminate ignorance. This applies to things like resumes, proposals,
specs, any kind of professional correspondence. This profession is all about clear and proper communication in either the written or drawn
form and if you can't communicate clearly, you could end up in trouble.

Sorry for going on so long. Let me know if you want to hear more.
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OB1Kanobi > JohnMicah Wandaga • 3 years ago


Quit whilst you still have time or persevere for a career which might not be worthwhile...
5△ ▽ • Reply • Share ›

MinistryofFear > JohnMicah Wandaga • 3 years ago ›


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Rise early. Work hard. Marry someone with a lot of money.
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Daniel Yung Kyun Lee > JohnMicah Wandaga • 3 years ago


Don't listen to Ibo. If you love it you'll stick with it. If you don't, oh well, change you're major. Every profession in the world will have a
love/hate relationship, no matter what. If you don't hate it with your guts, then it's worth doing.
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Carole Caporale > JohnMicah Wandaga • 3 years ago


get really good at all the technology, it will help you meet your deadlines for studio. Keep your eyes open to work outside of traditional
architect practice. Its a wonderful calling and its HARD but worth it if its what you really want to do.
3△ ▽ • Reply • Share ›

Ibo > JohnMicah Wandaga • 3 years ago


Change Major! you will thank me later
18 △ ▽ • Reply • Share ›

Bisher • 3 years ago


I have one more thing...don't go to far in design sometimes the best concept comes in the beginning
7△ ▽ • Reply • Share ›

Ali McI • 3 years ago


Network is the only useful point...
7△ ▽ • Reply • Share ›

AMRO BAOTHMAN • 3 years ago


NICE TIPS
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