Professional Architectural programs in Canada vary in their requirements, but most now look for an undergrad degree, after which you progress into a master's program. There are also routes to becoming an Architect through the technologist programs at some schools. Be sure to check with each school for their specific requirements.
However, the getting through schooling is really only one step of the way towards joining the profession.
Once that degree is completed, there's still a ways to go before being called an Architect. Most graduates enter an internship process in the early stages of their career, where they gain experience in all the different fields of Architecture in an office, and all the various practical tasks involved in taking a building from design to completion. This would include project management, contract administration, construction documents, and tendering, among others. This knowledge and experience helps to prepare prospective Architects for the reality of day-to-day business. “You need to know how to do that to deal with a client,” said Marilee.
There is also a series of exams on these same subjects before Architects can shed their intern designation.
These hurdles may seem high, and while the financial rewards may not be as rich as some careers in the oil and gas fields, when something like Architecture is a calling, the satisfaction can be extremely rewarding. “I tell pretty much every student that I meet with that if you love it, it's absolutely worth it. If you don't, you can't force it,” said Marilee.
Those that do have the calling and pursue Architecture as a career find that the journey is well worth it. For Maciej, the combination of analytical thinking, imagination, and design involved has made the journey a worthwhile one, “for me, Architecture is like solving a puzzle with many variables which have to analyzed, defined and reworked to fulfill a client’s needs and at the same time presented in an interesting and appealing form. What could be more exciting than pursuing the perfect solution for a client's needs with a team of people who have a different outlook on the same situation?”
While Josephine is relatively new to the industry, having only received her Intern Architect designation on February 29, she shares a similar outlook on what makes the world of Architecture so exciting. “No two buildings are the same. Two buildings may share the same program, but each one rests on a unique site, which inevitably calls for a distinct design. It is a complex series of problem solving that becomes satisfying when everything is resolved,” she says. Another aspect that excites Josephine is “the influential role that Architecture plays in society. The way people interact with buildings in a certain space is a reflection of their culture and urban identity.” The countless ways in which Architectural expression can take form, and be appreciated both visually and socially, furthers her passion for the world of Architecture.
The ultimate reward on the journey to becoming an Architect may be seeing all the hard work pay off as buildings take form and become reality. In that respect, Marilee speaks about Le Germain – a mixed-use hotel, office, and condo project in downtown Calgary – as one of her greatest challenges and one of her greatest successes. “I was involved in every part of that project from beginning to end. I can show it to family and friends and legitimately say 'I did that'. It was my baby before I had a baby,” she said.
Although the road to becoming an Architect may seem long and even daunting at times, for those that are truly passionate about the profession, it is one that they are more than willing to embark upon!
View Part I of this article here: Perspectives on the Journey to Becoming an Architect: Part I