Growing up I never imagined I would marry an Architect (what do they even do??!). Movies always paint them to be serious, black turtleneck wearing types with paper everywhere. (Guys in turtlenecks aren’t hot. Sorry Steve Jobs). The reality is far from this, thank God!
Going through university, I somewhat sailed through my 3 year business course. It was a mix of (sometimes) attending lectures and convincing tutor’s they had seen me in class at least once before. My then boyfriend (now Husband) had a much different experience. I watched from the sidelines, and occasionally got in the trenches, as he endured six gruelling, sleepless years to achieve the title of “Graduate Architect”. I have yet to see another course that pushes people like that. I think I would have snapped. A lot of people do, because the 1st year’s intake rarely reflects the size of the graduating class.
Once you complete your degree you’re raring and ready to go. Ready for the glory. Ready for the pay day. Logic might have you believe a person with a Masters degree is going to earn more than a person with a Bachelors degree. You’d be wrong if the Masters is of Architecture. Can you believe that someone who spent six years of their life studying the design of the built form (the creator of one of the most basic needs: shelter) earns about $42,000 their first year out of university? I couldn’t and I still think it’s a joke. A graduate Engineer earns anywhere from $60,000 in their first year out. What is it that sees society place more value on Engineers than Architects?
It’s no secret there is a long running Architect vs Engineer rivalry. Engineers are all like “Why you design hard stuff we have to stretch our formulas to make work?” and Architect’s be like “Why you so lazy that you refuse to try anything new?” Alas I digress. But with more training at a Graduate level, I think it is easy to see why Architects are peeved. Engineers earn more and study less, then society hands them a sweet pay day.
Back on topic, why are Architects so maligned? Why have we become so closed off to this form of artistry that we would rather see hideous, extruded, cookie cutter buildings adorn our skylines than something fit for use, amazing and outstanding?
I think there are a few reasons. The first being the terrible public relations job of the Australian Institute of Architects. The AIA seem to be MIA in a major way. They are not educating people about what it is that Architect’s actually do; they are not pointing out the value they contribute; and they are most definitely not making inroads to changing community perceptions about architecture and its importance. This lack of effort and lobbying from the AIA in my opinion has given rise to ability of a person to complete a one year TAFE degree, call themself a Building Designer, and directly compete with an Architect. What the? In what parallel universe has the AIA been so distracted that it allowed pesky Building Designers to encroach on the turf of Architects? Oh right, this universe.
This might seem like a purely bitter lament and in part it is. It is difficult to see the man I married and his peers having to accept low wages; competing for business with building designers; and justifying everyday to the masses why their role is relevant and required.
So please, if you know an Architect, hug them. Ask them what it is they do and actually listen. The next time you think of building a new place or extending an old one, call an Architect. Don’t accept poor design because Architects seem to loom large as an unknown quantity who will charge you the earth for a kitchen redesign. None of that is true. Architects are like the Doctors of the design world. You wouldn’t trust a 1st year medical student to remove your appendix, so why trust a building designer with your design project?
Take a chance, try an Architect. You won’t be disappointed.
Trust me, I’m an Architect’s wife.
Source: Chelsea van Riet