My First Year in the Real World (Note: not scary)

2016 has been an incredible year, and I hope it has for you readers too! For me, I graduated (more like survived) from an architecture school (thank god!) and started working as an architectural designer — the very first step of a long journey ahead. What has it been like so far as an architectural designer?


Instead of pursuing graduate education, which many of my architecture friends are doing, I made a tough decision to work first — to taste the bitterness of real world. Working for five months so far, it’s been an eye-opening and inspiring experience and I’d like to share my honest, personal stories.


1) It’s all true what they say

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetMy very first public meeting attendance at community centre

I’ve heard and read COUNTLESS number of times from architects and practitioners that you do completely different things from what you learned in school when you work in an architecture firm. I wanted to disbelieve that while I was still in school. I was wrong! Not surprisingly, I still contribute many hours in drafting, modelling and rendering, but I was in a BIG trouble when these words like StationingPPR, RFP, RCP or AODA hovered around me and I was totally lost. Thankfully, I was fortunate to have great mentors who understand and kindly guide me through!


2) Problem Solving VS. Creativity

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset
Problem-solving: Sketches, trials and errors, iterations

Architectural design is often described as a problem solving method, whether for interior layout or community building. One thing I learned is, most of the times design can be restricted by stringent regulations, zoning bylaw and other minor rules like height limit, which means realising big ideas and creativity can become a challenge. That’s when problem solving skill along with experience and knowledge becomes the creative solution (no, not OMB). Of many things I’ve heard, I truly understand now why professors encourage us to go beyond our creativity and imagination, because it’s always better to start from a big idea and work your way around.


3) Must keep creative juice flowing

Rendering error that is now a desktop wallpaper

In the first couple months of working, I was feeling a little hopeless and discouraged by the system with so many restrictions like air right, height limit, property line and right-of-way, as if space is limited by invisible boundaries.  Once you are aware of these rules, you start to think inside a box, and you absolutely should not. Always stay open to creativity and wacky ideas, study precedent cases, and observe. 


Been working for a while, I hear some of my friends asking me if I’m going back to school soon (graduate level). My experience so far has taught me that there is so much more I can learn from working in the real world, and I want to take on the next journey when I’m sincerely prepared to make the best out of graduate education. Keep following my blog to see what kinds of stories are ahead of me!


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