SKILLS YOU NEED TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN YOUR CAREER AS AN ARCHITECT
Author: Laraib Qasim
The journey to becoming an architect is far from easy. After spending anywhere between 5-8 years in school, you then have to spend a considerable amount of time in the field to learn all the required skills. After which you can write an exam, pass that exam, and call yourself an architect. Apart from the numerous years of hard work in school and field, there is also a long list of skills you will need in order to be successful once you become an architect. Here is a list of some of the most important skills you will need in order to be successful in your career as an architect.
The first and most essential thing you need to develop over the years is design skills. Think of it this way, if you do not have design skills, you are not doing the future generations of inhabitants any good. You need to be able to design, and do so beautifully. Always keep one thing in mind, you are never designing for the current generation, you are always designing for the future generations, and always leaving behind things that will help ensure the survival and livability of who is to come after you. Now that we have that cleared out, you may ask, what does it even mean to have good design skills. It means first and foremost that you understand the basics of good design which includes design knowledge and considerations such as sustainability, eco-friendly, and materiality - but on the other hand you also need design skills such as knowing how to make something beautiful. You need to learn the art of bridging forms and color together in order to make beautiful masterpieces. I believe most architects are also artists, and in order to make a unique design, you have to let your creativity out with every line you put on paper.
Now this is a skill which you will learn a little bit about during your time in school, but most of your knowledge will come from your work experience in the field. Now keep in mind, building code varies from country to country and in some cases even from province to province. One example of why this might be, is weather conditions. Weather is the biggest factor which varies all around the world which means in order to accommodate for extremely cold winters or extremely hot summers, the designing of a space will be entirely different. Once you have decided where you want to be practicing as an architect, you can dive deep into all the codes for everything from doors and handles to road widening and site conditions. Knowledge and skills learned on site are also essential for success as an architect. Although our work mostly revolves around working endless hours on a computer screen, we also need to know how our drawings transition into the real world. Something to help develop this skill is to constantly be visiting the site during the construction phase of a project. Without this knowledge, you only know half of what you are doing.
The next two really important skills you need are honesty and precision. Let me elaborate. Honesty is as simple as, whatever you draw, whatever you tell the client, anything you do in your work needs to be honest work. You should never find loopholes, and never look for an easy way out when it comes to being an architect. You must hold your design values high as an architect, and you must deliver genuine, and honest work. You can never go wrong with honesty. Secondly, precision is extremely important when you are producing the work. I think all architects, at some point in their career, start to develop OCD (Obsessive compulsive disorder), where you have the constant need to make sure everything aligns on a page, and nothing is overlapping. This is where precision plays a huge role. A big part of presenting your work to your client is creating clean, harmonious design packages, that if you were to skim through it, it should feel like poetry. Every single line, color, CAD block, text you add onto the paper should be precise in every way possible. I know, I know, human error is a thing. But you can eliminate most of that out as well by always double, triple checking your work before hitting that send button. Precision really goes a long way for any designer. It not only ensures perfection, but it also lets the client have more trust in you.
During your career, you will have numerous chances where you will be working in collaboration with other designers. Some who you will really enjoy working with, and other times where you will absolutely despise your design partners. In either situation, it is really important that you have developed good critical thinking skills. This is important because good design is never produced in a linear direction. By that, I mean, design is never something which goes in one straight line, you never just start off with an idea and work on it until completion. You have to take different paths along the way, and take any chance possible to develop your design idea and strategy along the way. In order to do so, you need to be able to look at something with a critical eye and point out everything which is working great for the project and everything which is not working great for the project. But critical thinking does not just end there. When you see something which you want to change, you have to be able to provide a different design solution that would work in a more efficient way. A Lot of times people confuse being critical as someone being a jerk and only telling you things which are not working out. When in reality, criticism should always feel like a conversation between two people who constantly bounce thoughts off on one another in order to come up with a design solution.
This one is pretty obvious. As an architect, you will always be communicating with someone. It is rare that you get to hide out in a corner and be a CAD monkey. Even if you are a CAD monkey, (mind you, this is not where you should be if you want to be a successful architect), you still have to be communicating with your team members in order to make sure all tasks are being completed in a timely manner. Communication starts with your team members, and goes all the way from talking to your client, talking to other disciplines such as engineers and landscape architects, to presenting your project to the city and public for approval. And if you can not effectively communicate your design principles and ideas, your job is going to be extremely difficult. It comes down to being able to show what your ideas are in a clear manner to the client and the public, but also being able to communicate with your team to ensure successful completion, while meeting all deadlines. This is essential in order for you to become successful in your career.
This last one is a skill which in my opinion is the foundation of all other skills. You need good computer and software skills for you to be able to produce all your drawings. Some general computer skills you will need include being able to work on a screen for the majority of your time, and general knowledge about the computer’s hardware system is helpful for determining if your computer is strong enough to handle the workload it will have. Software skills vary but generally include Microsoft Office (Word, Powerpoint, Excel), Adobe Suites (Indesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premier, Acrobat), AutoCAD, Rhino, Grasshopper, Sketchup, Bluebeam, Revit, Twinmotion, Unreal Engine, and Lumion. The list can go on based on the preferred method of working, but the ones listed here are some of the most commonly used softwares around the world.
Overall, these are some of the most important skills that you will need to develop during your learning years. It is important to keep these in mind throughout your time in school and in the field so you are ready to avail any opportunity that helps you develop these skills further. Remember, the key to all these skills is knowledge. It ties all skills together, and as an architect, you have to have the desire to be constantly learning and developing your skills through your career. Knowledge is something which is infinite. One man can not know everything there is to possibly know. You will always be learning even after 30 years of experience, because those that come after you will bring new knowledge and skills to the field. In general, every few years bring new changes to the building code. The more we continue to develop designing buildings, the more skills there will be to learn. With every new set of knowledge, you will design even better. And if this is a quality you have within you, not only will you be on the correct path towards becoming a good designer, but you will also be successful in your career as an architect.
To get a head start on learning some of these skills, check out some of the courses offered at Love Fun Art. We offer all types of art and architecture courses that are fun and easy going to accommodate your schedule. Our teachers are highly qualified with years of experience, and we are always looking for new enthusiastic students to join our classes. See the link below for more details: https://lovefunart.ca/