What kind of architect do you want to be? and other FAQ’s

I’m starting a new job on Monday as a Part-II Architectural Assistant at an Architecture firm in Shepherd’s Bush called Waind Gohil + Potter (WG+P). This statement generally leads to a lot of questions, and I’d like to mass answer those questions here in my blog.

What’s exciting about my job at WG+P is that it’s my first permanent full-time job (after a three month probationary period) since I’ve moved to England. Since I’ve been here, I’ve held two temporary positions, which I’ll quickly describe below before answering my self-imposed questions.

Through connections from my last job in Philadelphia, I held a one month position from November to December at the architecture firm Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM). AHMM is a large firm of approximately 300+ people that work on many large-scale and high-profile projects. It was a good opportunity to gain my first experience in a UK office, however, it was clear that the office was fully-staffed and there was often little left for me to do.

Through my father-in-law I was recruited by the architecture firm TP Bennett. TP Bennett if a firm of 250 people, half architects and half interior designers. I was hired as a Junior Interior Designer on a three-month temporary contract. In contrast to AHMM, it was clear that my help was very much needed. I worked with Amy, a Senior Interior Designer, on two workplace projects. My contract what extended as the project timelines got delayed, but I finished last week after four and a half months.

What kind of architect do you want to be?

This is a very odd question. I never actually know how to answer. Most architects are more concerned with how they design than what they design. I want to design good architecture. I want to design interesting architecture that considers light, space, humanity, and nature.   These qualities can be embodied with almost any kind of architecture. With all that considered, right now I’d like the experience of working on a small project so I can see a project completed from start to finish. I also am drawn to the intimacy of residential architecture.

What kind of architecture does Waind Gohil + Potter (WG+P) do? 

Their portfolio includes Housing, Community, Commercial, and Residential architecture, with most of their projects being small to medium-sized.

How big is WG+P? Where is it located? 

They are a small firm of about 17 people started in 2005. They are located in the West London neighborhood of Shepherd’s Bush. It will take me approximately 40 minutes to commute there from where I live in East London.

What is a Part-II Architectural Assistant?

In order to become an architect in the United States you must first receive a professional degree in Architecture, which can be either a Bachelor of Architecture degree (5-year University program) or a Master’s of Architecture degree (4-year undergraduate degree + 2-year graduate degree). After University you have to complete a minimum number of hours called the Intern Development Program (IDP), and pass a series of six exams administered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). Once that is complete, you are an architect!

In order to become an architect in the United Kingdom, you must receive your Part-I, Part-II, and Part-III qualifications from the Architectural Registration Board (ARB). You receive your Part-I after a three year’s full time study in an approved architecture course, at which point students take a year-out and work for one year as a Part-I Architectural Assistant in an architecture firm. You receive your Part-II at diploma-level, which involves two-years of full time study in architecture. You receive your Part-III after working for two years under an architect and passing a final professional examination. Until you complete your two years of work and pass your final exam you are known as a Part-II Architectural Assistant.

Are you Qualified to be a Part-II Architectural Assistant?

Nope. My degree from Penn State is a non-recognized overseas qualification according to the ARB’s standards. However, my education is equivalent to that of a Part-II in the UK. In order to receive the equivalency qualification, I will have to undergo two separate prescribed examinations for my Part-I and Part-II. Each of these examinations will cost about $2000 and involve me preparing examples of my academic and professional work to align with their extensive criteria. A jury will have an hour to review what I prepare and determine if I pass each time.

When will you be an architect?

After I pass both my Part-I and Part-II examinations, I can sit the Part-III exam after two years of practice. Unless I move back to the USA, in which case I will have to complete my IDP hours and sit the 5 exams required to be an architect in the US.

 

Considering everything I have ahead of me to do is rather exhausting. It took quite a while just to understand all of these processes. Right now I’m just looking forward to starting my new job and hoping that I’ll be able to make a valuable contribution to the projects I will be working on.  I’m nervous but I’m also excited and hope that I can make some friends.

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