What Programs Architects Should Learn

A short guide to some key software in the architectural and design spaces and the jobs they do within different phases of a project.

Introduction

An Architect or designer no longer sits at his drawing board but in front of a computer using a host of programs to produce design and production information. My professional life so far has spanned between the digital and analog world. I learned AutoCAD R12 when I was still a student but coming into practice offices mostly were still operating somewhere between the drawing board and the computer.

In my first office out of Architecture school one side of the room was workstations and the other drawing boards. That didn’t last long though and now the question is not whether you are using CAD but whether you are using BIM.

This post is for the student looking out on the Architectural software landscape for the first time. Where to head to and how to navigate and how to avoid some common traps.

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De Rotterdam by OMA

De Rotterdam (Photo © Ossip van Duivenbode from OMA site)

Key Information

  • Name: De Rotterdam
  • Location: Rotterdam
  • Architect: OMA
  • Year: 2009-20113
  • Cost: approx €340 million Euros
  • Program: Mixed use

Introduction

Rem Koolhaas is The Netherlands most influential Architect and he built a Skyscraper in Rotterdam, the biggest building in the nation. It’s a compelling matchup of Architect, program and city.

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How To Remote Work For Architects

Working from Home  - The dream
Working From Home – The Dream

So our office in Helsinki started working remotely thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic around the week of March 16-19th (week 12). Most of us haven’t done this before and there are some things worth bearing in mind for remote working generally and in particular for Architects and designers. I decided to try to collect some tips for working from home for Architects.

After about twenty years out of Architecture School and never being in an office that was very receptive of remote working, in the space of a week most of us moved over to it. The Pandemic meant that people became increasingly worried about working in our open plan office and it wasn’t clear whether the government would in fact mandate office closures.

Either way by the end of that week we started preparing and were all able to work from home by the middle of the next week.

I have collated some tips and good advice along with my own insights after the first month of working from home.

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Model of Glenn Murcutt house

Unpaid Internships in Architecture

Introduction

Internships are really valuable especially early on in your career and when you are studying then a summer internship is going to be a big help. As the process of becoming an Architect takes so long, maybe 5 to 7 years at school plus a couple of years of internship plus some exams sprinkled throughout that time its important to pick up some real world experience as you go. But many firms offer Internships without any pay which is controversial. I have tried to lay out the arguments below from both sides with some practical advise for those looking for Internships.

Don’t Work for Free

The short answer to whether you should take an unpaid internship if you are offered one is don’t! No really just don’t do it no one should be working for free not even for good experience. I have tried to provide a summary of all the arguments, where the profession stands in different countries and some resources to hep you when you are applying for these posts.

Background

Unpaid internships in the Architectural profession, depending on the country you live in, are still quite common. In the UK a 2012 Student earnings survey found that 11% of students were unpaid. In the U.S.A. the (NACE) survey of 2017 showed 43% of all interns (not just Architects) were unpaid so it happens everywhere but the level differs greatly, and it’s still quite common even in countries where it is nominally illegal.

Thankfully these types of positions are getting more and more uncommon but they are still around and the more prestigious the firm often the more tempting it is for you to accept an unpaid position with them as a way of getting better experience and padding your CV.

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