My Life as an Architect


My Life as an Architect

March 16, 2015

Featured author Jared W. Smith (B.Arch. '08) is a project architect at Stantec Architecture in New York City and a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA).

In a few months, the Class of 2015 will graduate, including many aspiring newly-minted architects. Maybe that's you-an aspiring architect about to launch a career in a diversely creative profession. Seven years ago, that was me, too. I earned my Bachelor of Architecture from NYIT and now work as a licensed project architect at the global firm Stantec Architecture in New York City.

Wondering what it's really like out in the field? In my role I'm tasked with coordinating feasibility reports, design, construction documents, and ultimately, if I'm lucky, construction administration while the space is built. The various phases to bring a design to fruition are integral to the work of an architect. The coordination side of things means I interact with clients and answer questions throughout the design and construction process and serve as a liaison between my firm's engineers and external clients.

My past and current projects include exterior masonry and stone renovations; roof replacements and recoveries; facade and curtain wall repairs and replacements; large-scale, single unit glazing replacements; interior design and space planning; retrofits; sustainable design; and subsurface infiltration prevention. Architecture is an open slate for various avenues of utilization. There's the traditional role, as I've described above, sitting across the table on the construction side, or a combination of both as in a design-build firm.

Whether you're about to graduate, only recently enrolled in a program offered by NYIT's School of Architecture and Design, or are a prospective student thinking about the architecture profession, my advice is the same: get your "feet wet" in the field any way you can. Get an internship, meet professionals at networking events offered by the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter, and participate in ACE (Architecture, Construction and Engineering) Mentor Program or NYIT's excellent Exploring Architecture in Manhattan Program for high schoolers.

Aside from your required design and technical courses, also take business courses. There is a large business component to being an architect. Strong management skills will prove helpful at any firm. An extremely useful but often overlooked skill is the ability to communicate well. I've learned through good and bad interactions that how you deal with people is important, especially if you expect to be held in esteem while clearly conveying your design ideas.

My ultimate goals as an architect are to design spaces that complement the surrounding neighborhood, build sustainably to limit the consumption of scarce resources, and meet my client's needs with a functional space that's also aesthetically pleasing. Doing all of that and staying within a budget is what drives me to work in this challenging profession that I love so much.

For more insights, check out Smith's blog, "Registered Architect."