Archive for June, 2011


The first question every architecture student is asked in an interview is “How much experience do you have doing Construction Documents and using CAD?” The second question asked is whether you have “any experience using Revit?” For most  Masters students seeking their first summer or full-time position, these questions are tricky as the majority of Masters programs do not explicitly teach CAD/Revit. Where as an undergrad or college architectural education does normally provide courses in CAD.

What is concerning is the emphasis some firms place on students and graduates knowing these programs and at the same time the lack of emphasis Masters programs have in teaching the basics in a structured way. In the realm of higher education, there appears to be a snobbish outlook on the technical skill set needed to meet the minimal level of readiness for the workforce. Is technical skills training the purvey of only Colleges?

I have met graphic/digital course teachers who take a very hands off approach in teaching programs, rather lecturing from the podium while students follow along on their laptops. This is of course highly ineffective. For students who have not had an undergrad or college education in architecture, it is the responsibility of the Masters program to either dictate that students seek external help prior to entering or provide a basic skill set workshop to bring students up to speed. Architecture students should not leave graduate school without learning to draw plans, reflected ceiling plans, sections, and elevations all in CAD and if possible Revit. That being said, firms need to realize that if they are looking for “CAD Monkeys” then stop hiring Masters students. Colleges are cranking out technically proficient graduates who want to produce Construction Documents. Masters students are taught to be designers and understand the formal qualities of architecture in a way that is not taught in college or undergrad. The value added of a Masters student is his/her comprehension of design.

Registered Architects have a responsibility to the profession to take on students and train them. This is a very important commitment as the sunken cost into a student is normally never recovered. Yet years ago, every registered architect was in the same position as the student today. For students worried about their lack of skills, don’t be! Go into an interview, be honest about your deficiencies, yet always return the conversation to your strengths. Talk to the potential employer about your best studio projects, ask them if they have any questions, push your interests in architecture and sell them on you, not your technical skill set.


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There is two fundamental flaws with Chris Hume’s argument that Brampton does need a downtown. The first being that Hume’s discounts municipal identity over regional identity and the second being that a vibrant suburban Brampton downtown can encourage a higher, more sustainable density, living and working around the somewhat manufactured centre of the municipality. You can read Chris Hume’s article below at the Toronto Star.

Chris Hume’s: Downtown Brampton and other illusions
It is true that the GTA and Southern Ontario work as one economic entity driving the Canadian financial and manufacturing sectors. Each municipality is a cog in the machine that make it all work. Yet we cannot discount the importance that a vibrant, working downtown has on municipalities, especially the tenth biggest city in Canada. Identity is important for a municipaity, it gives the city purpose and drive. A bedroom community then has something to aspire to and work toward. People feel belonging which generates positive emotions and tangible productive results. Read any literature on identity and cities and we begin to understand the importance of belonging.

In some ways I felt that Hume’s was encouraging this car centric municipality with it big box stores, reliance on the automobile, and abundance of single family homes. As a Intern Architect, I cannot  condone these unsustainable developments. A downtown core that focuses and reduces the scale of the city back down to the pedestrian and encourages a commercial centre could allow for future development of transit alternatives, higher density condo living, and move away from annexation of the next subdivision just outsides Brampton’s borders.

I normally agree with much of what Hume’s writes, however not today, Brampton needs what Mississauga has begun to undertake. Mississauga has worked hard to create a downtown core, hopefully the Downtown21 plan will be realized reducing the current scale of the downtown to a more pedestrian friendly core. I can envision a future for Mississauga thanks to the Downtown 21 plan where a Light Rail option traverses the Mississauga core to GO Train stations alleviating traffic. Imagine having a commercial centre within a Brampton downtown alleviating some of the pollution caused by community to Toronto. Imagine a strong identity for Brampton that helps its influx of new immigrants integrate and feel Canadian, Bramptonian, and a part of a community. Imagine the future Mr. Hume, it will be better with a municipal downtown core… maybe they can have a hockey team too!

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