Friday, July 10, 2009

Professional practice: what did you learn (or what do you remember?)

I took my one professional practice class the last semester of grad school, spring of 2000. It only met once a week for two or three hours on a Wednesday night. We'd all sit in a classroom with this old retired architect fellow for a couple of hours; at least half of the classes had guest speakers talking about different aspects of architecture and different jobs that you can do as a licensed architect. Then, we'd all go to the local watering hole for the pitchers and wings. Perhaps that's why I didn't remember that much.

Here's what I recall us talking about.
  • The phases of a project: what kind of info is included in each phase, the decisions that have to be made in each phase, etc.
  • Marketing: we made booklets of our pretend firms, including "sample projects" and firm info.
  • Interns: when we come fresh out of college, we're mostly to completely useless because school can't teach you what you need to know about working on projects in a firm.
So what do you remember, if anything, from your professional practice class? Did you have to take one, or have you even taken it yet? What did you want to know? Were you told anything that made you want to punch the professor or guest lecturer?


  1. My class was called "Context of the Profession" and I think it was an elective (not required). Pretty similar to your description though. I took it the third year of my 5 year degree.

    We did fake interviews as firms to hypothetical clients, we talked about the gap between school and the profession. That lead me to take "Construction Documents", "Architectural Programming", "Architectural Typology", and a Practicum that were also electives, though they should have been required.

    The professor was running his own firm, so we talked about marketing budgets, admin. staff, rent, and other overhead costs. He told us he has to bill at a rate three to four times what he pays architects to cover those costs.

    We also talked about how school projects really never get out of schematic design. At the end of the term he actually cut us fake checks for our studio projects based on the estimated cost of the project and how far along we had taken the design. That was eye opening!

  2. The ONLY helpful thing about pro-practice courses is that you learn a few of the acronyms we use so often in the real world. This helped to not feel completely stupid in my first job.