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The Practice Management Knowledge Community (PMKC) identifies and develops information on the business of architecture for use by the profession to maintain and improve the quality of the professional and business environment.  The PMKC initiates programs, provides content and serves as a resource to other knowledge communities, and acts as experts on AIA Institute programs and policies that pertain to a wide variety of business practices and trends.

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Mentorship Challenges

  • 1.  Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 02-23-2021 12:12 PM
    Does it seem like it is getting harder to enter and advance in the profession of architecture?  Given the work-at-home situation, students and recent graduates have more limited opportunities to collaborate and work alongside architects - and only the very best mentors are bridging that gap for them. Are there any specific steps you have taken - from either side of the equation - to help that situation?


    ------------------------------
    Scott Knudson AIA
    Principal
    Knu Design, LLC
    Boyds MD
    ------------------------------
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  • 2.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 02-25-2021 11:31 AM
    Scott,
    I can't say whether or not it's getting harder to enter the profession today compared to when I passed my exams in 1976. Then, in PA, it was only a 2 day affair (if you had a B Arch. you didn't have to sit for the 3rd day charrette) with mostly multiple "guess" questions. Being a very good test taker, I passed at my first sitting even though I hadn't completed a project from schematics thru construction with my then employer. I didn't feel that I was qualified to practice, but I had my licence!
    In recent conversations with many of my past students (I was a 3rd year instructor @ Marywood University SoA from 2011 thru 2017) many have quickly passed their exams without much hassle. 
    Currently I'm participating in a program organized by AIA PA, PALM (Promoting Advocacy & Licensure thru Mentorship). At our kick-off "meeting" over 80 people participated. We are broken down into groups of 5 including current students, recently registered & experienced architects. We "meet" once /month to discuss issues, portfolios, whatever come up. It is a form of mentorship that I believe is good for all of the participants.
    I'd check with AIA MD to see if they run a similar program.
    Carl

    Carl J. Handman, AIA
    A      R      C      H      I      T      E      C      T       
    98 East Walnut Street  Kingston, PA 18704      

    P: 570-287-1717                            F: 570-287-7368
                           



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  • 3.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 03-01-2021 09:51 AM
    I just recently retired but prior to retiring and over the last year I have learned that mentoring and training junior staff through MS Teams/WebEx/Google Meet/etc., and from my perspective it takes a stronger effort and patience and a consistent approach by the supervising staff to get the younger staff to get into a routine similar to being in the studio together.  Plus, like many senior staff, I always had an open door and that should be made clear that the younger staff in your studio that they have an open link or phone number to you to discuss a project, a detail their goals or architectural practice in general.  I also found that having the younger staff lead a project meeting or a studio meeting was useful training for them.  The managing studio leaders and project leaders should have set meeting times each week to talk one-on-one to the junior staff that are assigned to them.  Human Resources and/or Project Managers and Project Architect training is critically needed now for virtual business interaction meeting leadership and how to best optimize the use of our: 1) virtual project agendas, 2) design reviews, and 3) use of our 3D tools during the virtual meetings.​

    ------------------------------
    Michael Katzin, AIA, NCARB
    President
    Michael Katzin Project Services, LLC
    Johns Creek GA
    ------------------------------

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  • 4.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 02-26-2021 05:53 PM
    Hi Scott,  One of our studios runs an open TEAMs meeting for the whole 8-person group pretty much all day.  This way any time anybody wants to ask a question or mention something, they can.  I'm not sure if they're keeping their cameras on or not, but they report that they feel more supported this way.  Of course folks need to leave this TEAMs meeting to join another, so the opportunity to learn from overhearing  is not really there.  Headphones had already cut substantially into that medium anyway though.

    ------------------------------
    John Kohlhas AIA
    Director of Operations
    NORR
    Philadelphia PA
    ------------------------------

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  • 5.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 02-28-2021 01:49 PM
    For nine years now, I have had no employees... After the Great Recession I formed Macrae ARCHitecture, a national virtual firm where all collaborators are independent contractors. The Virtual Architectural Practice Model has been called "An Incubator of Solopreneurs". In the probable, post COVID-19 recession...I now call it, "Resiliency for Architecture Firms".  So my contribution to emerging practitioners is to outline a path to self employment and firm ownership without having to incur fixed overhead costs and therefore also immediate profitability.  Also, I am able to utilize even graduates of Architecture school as collaborators, leveraging their skills in conceptual design, 3D imaging and presentations.

    However, I have to date not solved the problem of mentoring young talent through all aspects of the profession within the virtual practice model.

    This is a great question Scott...i'm anxious to hear responses from others on how this entre into the profession is being addressed by them during these trying times.

    Sincerely,



    Peter
     
    Macrae ARCHitecture, LLC
     
    Peter S. Macrae, AIA
    Principal
    "MARCHing with a different perspective"
     
    74 Orchard Drive
    Worthington, OH 43085
     
    614-205-6805 phone
    614-848-8113 fax
     



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  • 6.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 03-18-2021 11:02 AM

    Scott:
    I was going to post this as a separate thread but I will post as an answer to your first question:"Does it seem like it is getting harder to enter and advance in the profession of architecture?".

    Absolutely and shockingly not, in fact I would strongly argue that currently the criteria for getting licensed is so low that a license is nearly meaningless.  I knew NCARB has been changing the rules for years, seemingly making the recording process more Byzantine yet the actual exam easier but I had no idea that universities can now teach to pass the exam and students graduate with a license. GRADUATE WITH A LICENSE!! I understand that they intern along the way but it can by no means be the same level of experience one gets from full time employment in a functioning office. NCARB is allowing folks to sit for the licensing exam so quickly that a few years back I had an intern, who had started the whole exam process in college and had just passed the ARE, come into my office and cry because he felt he had nowhere near the  knowledge required to be an "Architect", to lead a project, to be solo on one. Which, of course, he did not.  I was as comforting as helpful as I could be but all I could think was why is NCARB allowing someone this fresh (two years) out of school to sit for the exam?

    Someone a day out of school has been led to believe that they are as qualified as any other licensed architect and I guess legally they are. They can stamp a high rise as readily as I can.

    I will put aside the dis-service that this does to them and ask when hiring, how does one handle this? Someone is applying for a job directly out of school but I am sure has looked up salary levels for licensed architects.

    I am certain there will be folks responding to this singing the praises of IPAL and similar programs but I cannot believe rushing to give someone a license that they are not prepared for is in their best interest. 



    ------------------------------
    [ Nea May] [Poole] AIA
    [Principal]
    [Poole & Poole Architecture, LLC]
    [Midlothian, ] [Virginia]
    ------------------------------

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  • 7.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 03-19-2021 05:34 PM
    Nea:
    Very well stated.  I have a sole practitioner practice but also consult with larger firms and frequently work with and mentor young interns and architects.  To a certain extent, I make my living lending my "gray hair" to emerging professionals and established firms with young staff.  Honestly, most of us in our early careers did not recognize what we didn't know but as we gain experience we learn to understand what we don't know.  In speaking with my contemporaries, many young architects simply do not yet know what they do not know and that will get them into trouble.

    The practice of architecture has become increasingly complex over my career and, regrettably, far more litigious.  A project that once required 50 sheets of drawings, not requires 200 sheets and the numbers of materials, products and systems involved has increased several fold.  Contractors are far more sophisticated and are quick to file claims.  If anything, the level of experience required to be licensed needs to be increased, not decreased.

    ------------------------------
    Mark I. Baum, AIA
    New Orleans LA
    ------------------------------

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  • 8.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 03-22-2021 06:21 PM
    I have to confirm your observations.  For the last 8+ years I've been the in-house trouble shooter / fireman for a 30 person firm. I continually press them to continue their educations, go for their exams, and direct them to useful webinars.

    As co-chair of the local Codes Committee I alert the staff to upcoming codes presentations and stress that as licensed architects they are legally responsible for code related issues embodied in their drawings and specifications.

    We are blessed with some decent legal seminars, both by local law firms and by insurance company sponsored legal presentations.

    I concur that the level of knowledge and experience required for licensure should be increased.  Perhaps we should have tiered licenses - Arch In Training levels 1, 2, 3, etc. I am, however, not convinced that the degrees can ever keep up and the cost of those degrees is may not be fully justified.

    G. Drake Jacobs, AIA, NCARB
    Boston

    ------------------------------
    G. Drake Jacobs AIA
    Group One Partners, Inc.
    Boston MA
    ------------------------------

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  • 9.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 03-24-2021 10:18 AM

    Drake: You are spot on about the cost of the degree. I remember when one could apprentice to become an architect and I would argue those were some exceptionally strong architects once they were done. What schools teach has so little to do with the actual practice of architecture that it is, in some cases, worse than worthless. I have had interns come in directly out of school who are genuinely SHOCKED by what actually goes on in an architect's office..."what! we don't read poetry about our design aloud all day?!"

    In the past 20 years I have had three interns leave the profession in under a year because it was so different than their expectation. But this is not new; at UVA my first class was taught by a "professor" who was 25 years old and had left one of the finest design firms in the world after just two years for life as an academic because the reality of architecture was just not what he was interested in.

    However, on a positive note I have had some interns arrive who were thrilled to discover architecture was so much more than school ever indicated. They thrived on learning how buildings went together, what jobsites were like and even were genuinely curious to learn about codes.

    My perception from once being in a very large firm that had over 300 employees but about 25 licensed architects is that it use to be that folks got out of school, got comfortable in their job, realized they never wanted to start their own firm and that they would never have to stamp drawings at their large firm so they decided why go through the hassle and expense to get a license. I am not saying I agree with this, just what I observed. I think the number of licensed architects to the number of students graduating was disturbing to NCARB and the AIA so they have rigged the system so that nearly anyone graduating can easily get a license.  The fundamentally wrong assumption is that since those graduates were not getting licensed was that they had left the profession because somehow a license was too much of a barrier. Nonsense. I have worked with many, many graduates who even into their 40's and 50's never got licensed and some of them are the finest architects I know. The system seems backwards at this point where experience is not valued or rewarded (with a license) the way simply being in architecture school is now rewarded.

    Sadly, I do think it is going to take a series of serious mishaps before those making these changes see the folly of the too easily given professional credentials.



    ------------------------------
    [ Nea May] [Poole] AIA
    [Principal]
    [Poole & Poole Architecture, LLC]
    [Midlothian, ] [Virginia]
    ------------------------------

    ICYMI: Shifting perceptions of workplace relationships | Watch the recorded webinar


  • 10.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 03-24-2021 10:50 AM

    I think the medical internship (gasp - they still use that word? don't they feel denigrated?) is a better model for us to consider.
    Given that
    - pre-licensure experience is a fundamental part of one's education as an architect
    - some firms hesitate to hire AXPers because they feel they are training staff who will leave them in a heartbeat
    - the quality of educational experience is wildly variable
    - there are compensation irregularities

    I suggest that only experience at accredited firms (call them teaching practices or whatever) counts towards licensure. Those accredited firms must have a formal program and truly invest in their candidates.
    The controversial BIG change I would consider is ... omit the exam requirement for candidates who successfully chart a slightly-longer (maybe 4 year) path through these teaching studios.

    To compensate the firms for that higher level of effort, maybe the firms are tied to universities and somehow can be compensated beyond a modest salary, or the candidates would earn less but can still draw on financial aid/scholarships; need more thought on that part...



    ------------------------------
    Scott Knudson AIA
    Principal
    Knu Design, LLC
    Boyds MD
    ------------------------------

    ICYMI: Shifting perceptions of workplace relationships | Watch the recorded webinar


  • 11.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 03-24-2021 11:22 AM

    If I understand Scott Knudson correctly, he proposes tying the practical experience requirement to "accredited firms," however, that would create a tremendous hardship on small practices that, due to their small size, provide excellent hands-on training for young architect.  Creating formal criteria for the firms that are "accredited" to offer training to architectural graduates would lock out small firms that cannot invest in such efforts from attracting talent.

     

    Bottom line is that the "internship" must be held sacrosanct and the exam must gauge the readiness of graduates to practice in the real world, and it should not be permitted to take the exam until the training period is complete.  An alternative path could be considered using the accredited training mentioned.

     

    Mark I. Baum, AIA

    Principal

    Mark I. Baum Architect LLC

    New Orleans, LA

     

    Mark I. Baum, Architect, AIA

    1493040264519_PastedImage

     




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  • 12.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 03-24-2021 04:47 PM
    Just a few thoughts from my perspective and years of implementing professional development programs - grads coming out of the schools have many resources to use to "study," for the A.R.E. exam but they should also be informed about the NCARB A.R.E requirements and especially the requirement of a "Supervisor," relationship.

    Whether or not the firm, big or a proprietorship, has the time to provide a "Supervisor" for an AXP'er focused on "experience," can be a challenge for a firm.  It is not prudent to compromise the experience and training necessary regarding grads learning the fundamental aspects of HWS in our profession prior to testing for licensure.
    An idea - NCARB might consider exploring and modifying the requirements of a "Supervisor." In circumstances where the proprietor or a firm with a small staff do not have time or resources to provide a NCARB "Supervisor."  In some firms it is getting more challenging  to set aside the time to train as we all get deeper in the professions virtual technology and instant information exchange.
    Maybe NCARB could consider developing another path for a grad on the path to licensure to allow a licensed architect outside the office of employment to be the Supervisor.
    From NCARB website - To be an AXP Portfolio supervisor, you must be one of the following:
    • Current architect supervisor. You have been licensed to practice architecture in the United States for at least six months, have known the candidate for at least six months, and the candidate currently works under you.
    • Architect mentor. You have been licensed to practice architecture in the United States for at least one year and have known the candidate for at least one year. This is only an option if the candidate does not currently work for an architect.
    ​Schools and Colleges of Architecture should, if they do not already, address the licensure paths and NCARB's Supervisor and Mentor approaches in in the 3rd year and emphasize it further in 4th and/or 5th year before graduating and prior to prep for career​ fairs so candidates can ask questions about a firm's A.R.E./AXP development and training and Professional Development programs.


    ------------------------------
    Michael Katzin, AIA | NCARB
    Michael Katzin Project Services, LLC
    Johns Creek, GA
    ------------------------------

    ICYMI: Shifting perceptions of workplace relationships | Watch the recorded webinar


  • 13.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 03-25-2021 05:52 PM
    Scott, I could not agree with you more! No other profession requires a mandatory practicum or internship as a requirement for licensure, with the notion that the graduates are turned loose into an often volatile marketplace!  In a good economy, students graduate with student debt, and then have to find an intern position by themselves.  Many firms operate on a bottom line and use the interns as cheap labor, with no real interest in developing them as architects!  And in a bad economy.... they are just out of luck, in debt, and unable to hang their shingle.

    We all realize that there is much practical knowledge to be had before one can be a licensed architect.  Much of it cannot be taught in academia, especially by career academics who don't know it themselves!    There needs to be teaching offices (impervious to the marketplace) or accredited firms offering this.  It needs to be educational  The internship needs to be part of the education.  It needs to be intense (one intense year) and either unpaid or minimum wage, akin to a teaching practicum.

    The current intern system is broken.  This is why educators have decided to take control of it!

    ------------------------------
    Edward Shannon AIA
    Architect/Owner
    Edward J. Shannon, Architect PLC
    Des Moines IA
    ------------------------------

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  • 14.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 03-25-2021 06:10 PM

    You are spot on Edward Shannon.  We have an intern now and she is getting to see not only the how we dos, but the why we dos.  I think in many cases understanding why is much more important than how.  This is not taught in school.  And when you have to pay to draw things all over again because of the client, code official, neighbor, developer, or specialty consultant, you really learn a lesson the hard way.

     

    I have many, many scars which I show to the interns so they don't get the same ones.  Some you will have to learn the hard way.  That's called life.  Ask don't tell.  Measure twice - cut once.  Erasers are cheaper than jack-hammers. Etc. 

     

    Take care.

     

    Dario

     

    Dario D. D. DiMare, AIA, LS, HITH

    President

    Dario Designs Inc.

    318 Main Street, Suite 210

    Northborough, MA 01532

    508-877-4444 work

    617-306-2420 cell

    dario@dariodesigns.com

    www.dariodesigns.com

     

        instagram      

     




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  • 15.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 03-25-2021 07:45 PM

    I have only to look at my own experience to realize how little we know about the total practice of architecture when we get out of school.  My major professor explained to me when I visited him about a year after graduation, "We teach you here what you are not likely to be exposed to after graduation.  The rest you need to learn on the job.  And that was about 60 years ago! 

     

    I owe passing the plumbing section of the State Boards to a plumber on a K-12 school project when I was an intern doing job observation.  I was looking at the maze of piping on the "wet wall" of a student toilet room when the plumber came in and took the time to explain the whole system to me; supply, waste, venting, loop vents and all.  Sixty-five percent of the plumbing section on the State Boards read, "You have an elementary school for 450 students.  Design the toilet room plumbing to meet code.  Show piping to include supply, waste and vents."  Luckily the occupancy was exactly what that school was three years before.  I laid my pencil down and pictured the wet wall in my mind and then drew like mad.

     

    DFT/Katy

     




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  • 16.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 03-26-2021 06:01 PM
    I certainly valued my 4 year internship during and after college working for 4 different firms.  The values and skills learned in a 30 person sweat shop firm followed by a 6 person firm followed a 50 person firm followed by a 2 person firm have served me well.  I then started my own private practice after easily passing the Exam. I've had the privilege of training several interns who are now leaders and principals in their firms.  All kept their eyes and ears open and had a passion for learning all aspects of their profession.

    My 5th year professional studies professor shared an interesting tidbit based on 100 architectural graduates.  After 5 years only 20 of us will be working in private practice firms.  After 20 years only 5 of us will be working in private practice.  He also said there are easier ways to make money!  After 32 years of private practice I think I've found that both ring true.

    ------------------------------
    Randal Steiner AIA
    President
    Randal Steiner Architect PA
    Wichita KS
    ------------------------------

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  • 17.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 03-29-2021 05:33 PM

    Hi Randall,

     

    Your experience sounds similar to mine. I remember the first thing my structures professor said on the first day, "if you are not planning on practicing architecture, please drop this course and make room for those who will..."

     

    Best to all,

     

    Daniel Guich, AIA, LEED ap, CDT

     STUDIO CONVERGE

    415.683.9600 

    www.studioconverge.com

     




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  • 18.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 03-30-2021 12:17 PM

    I had an opportunity to team with Taliesin Architects (Frank Lloyd Wright's school that focused on apprenticeship as much as class work) on a project several years ago.  I was intrigued by the different experience the apprentices on the Taliesin team were getting from my own experience in architectural education.  The Apprentices were a constant fixture with the Master Architect, attending and participating in meetings, presenting the work they did, being assigned to coordinate with my team, etc.  Granted, there were some challenges in the lack of experience of some members (not their fault, but their years of experience).  I, on the other hand, only got those same experiences due to circumstances that were for the most part beyond my control.

     

    I have since wondered what our system of education would look like if master's degree work had more to do with training in an office (Paid of course!) instead of a classrooms; perhaps reserving doctoral work for those who want to spend a few years concentrating on specialization within the field.

     

    Best Regards,

     

    Michael Clark, AIA

    logo-gray left

    4715 Pilgrim Lane N, Minneapolis, MN 55442

    Telephone:  612.840.3773

    mclark@amc-psc.com

    www.amc-psc.com

     




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  • 19.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 03-31-2021 06:01 PM

    Well said. Our 'Institutions' really do need look beyond 'tradition' and begin to adopt a much more collaborative orientation in their approach.

    I also was the beneficiary of exposure to the Talisian Fellowship (many years ago) and was equally impressed with their orientation of inclusion of ideas from their student 'collaborators". Much different than the year end 'crits' in which I participated (in the age of the dinosaurs).

     

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

    .


    Virus-free. www.avg.com



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  • 20.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 03-19-2021 05:35 PM
    I have been in favor of the school providing students that are able to get the education and internship within the school system.  As I understand, in San Diego, we have two schools as part of their 6 year master's program that the last two years are internships with local firms for the exposure to the actual experience.  This allows the student to be exposed to various kinds of architecture and at all levels.  When I was first out of school, fellow interns ended up in residential only firms and did not get the experience of the commercial or alternative architectural experiences.  I think the schools can give the opportunity to educate and provide the internship with a strong experience.  Many of the firms I worked with early on did not provide much directed experience....I had to seek it out on my own.  It is true....although I earned my license within the 3 years after my 5 year degree, I did not actually use my license for my own work until a couple years later.  I do see the point, but I think we need to provide a more direct path to licensing or we are going to lose more valuable architects in the profession.

    ------------------------------
    Warren Scott AIA
    Principal
    Warren W. Scott + Architecture
    Encinitas CA
    ------------------------------

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  • 21.  RE: Mentorship Challenges

    Posted 03-19-2021 05:35 PM

    I couldn't agree with you more.  Good post Nea Poole. 

     

    I wonder how the E&O insurance guys feel about this? 

     

    I hope our insurance does not go up as a result of this.  There would have to be more claims as a result of their inexperience. 

     

    Maybe the AIA, or NCARB, or the universities get sued a few times for wrongful deaths and the pendulum may swing back.  Our profession is more than just cute buildings, it is also closely tied to the health, safety , and welfare of the public.

     

    Thanks. 

     

    Dario

     

    Dario D. D. DiMare, AIA, LS, HITH

    President

    Dario Designs Inc.

    318 Main Street, Suite 210

    Northborough, MA 01532

    508-877-4444 work

    617-306-2420 cell

    dario@dariodesigns.com

    www.dariodesigns.com

     

        instagram      

     




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