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Architect versus Architectural Drafter

edited April 2006 in Q and A
I am a drafter who studied 2.5 years for a diploma & upon completion landed a job with a builder earning $30 000 plus super. Not bad for someone straight out of TAFE.

Two years later I left the workforce to study architecture where I was offered one years credit which I felt to be unfair as I found myself sitting in lectures revisiting things I learned at TAFE. Being in my mid-twenties I decided I could not justify paying for an education that I had in part & therefore ten weeks later decided to quit. I am aware the course has a lot more to offer over the four years but come on you can't seriously tell me it has any financial worth. From my observation/experience you either have it or you don't and studying for that amount of time isn't going to change that!

I have been working in the industry for 5 years & been slowly working my way up, get paid reasonably well & have recently been in charge of the documentation of a multi-million dollar house with another in the pipeline (both over 4 million). I am being exposed to the same elements as an architect but without the title. I have a natural design flair & luckily the practice I am with doesn't distinguish between job titles only ability.

Some of the architectural & interior design graduates I have worked with have been of an absolute poor standard & there attitude is unbelievable. Seriously you guys need to sharpen up if you want to get somewhere within this industry. It is very hard work and only pays well to those who put in the extra 10%. Even the existing architects are a lot to be desired most of them are introverted individuals who have very poor communication skills & there standard of work is absolutely rubbish I am forever fixing there mistakes. A lot of them seem to forget that the design aspect of a project is only 5% of the work involved!

I am very much looking forward to any architects responses & there justifications for studying for a degree!

Comments

  • edited January 1970
    Good on you, now why do you need architects to justify your decisions about your career qualifications ?
  • edited January 1970
    I think you have misunderstood what I asked for which was a response to what I have said and justifications any architects out there have for studying for there degree. I am asking you to justify your decision as the architect! I have already stated my justification.
  • Mk3Mk3
    edited April 2015
    .
  • cpcp
    edited January 1970
    I'm not sure its a matter of justification - at least in the context in which you are posing the question. There is practically no connection between a university education in architecture and the practice of architecture. The 'design' taught and practiced in university has little to no resemblance to the 'design' practiced comercially. The only aspect of the university course that is directly transferable to commercial architecture is a rudimentary understanding of the industry and a design literacy (which both, I'm sure, can be gained via the TAFE course or experience).

    This chip on every draftie's shoulder is ridiculous - if you can acheive your goals without the degree don't worry about it. If the lack of a degree is holding you back, wait a few years and get registered. If you are interested in the grey area between academia and professionalism that architects like to inhabit, with the wankery that goes with it - sign yourself up and buy some Two Minute Noodles.
  • edited January 1970
    I agree with Mk3...its a personal thing...I've got my degree in architecture, started out from TAFE, now I'm an artist/surfer/father of two...The main point is I'm happy.javascript:emoticon(':D')
  • MBMB
    edited January 1970
    frank &amp wrote: »
    ......what I asked for which was a response to what I have said and justifications any architects out there have for studying for there degree.

    I did my degree to learn that it's not always about the money. Oh.... and how to spell too.
  • edited January 1970
    I find it an incredibly ignorant comment to make that design is only 5% of the design process. I don't however find myself surprised to hear it from an architectural drafter. Going to TAFE and learning how to design buildings that comply with the BCA and how to draw does not in any way come close to skill level required to become an architect. Unfortunately the level understanding of the general population (including the drafties themselves) as to the benefits of the use of an architect rather than a building designer is limited. At a recent homeshow in Brisbane I was disgusted to find a stall promoting the use of building designers in lieu of architects. The brochures stated that the only difference between an architect and a building designer was "slight differences in education". Go and ask someone who's lived in a drafty designed house and an architect designed house what the differences were and I guarantee that they'll have a lot to say to you about it.

    I'd like to know what the RAIA is doing about promoting the REAL differences between architects and building designers?
  • edited January 1970
    I definately agree to steal_my_kisses!

    Propably, I need to explain, that I am a German architect (so please excuse mistakes in my language), coming to Adelaide a couple of weeks ago as a new migrant. So far, I am looking for work here, so I don't have any local experience, yet. Still, I would like to express my opinion, because I have spent 2 semesters in Adelaide as an exchange student about 5 years ago.

    I have to say, that sometimes I was a bit disappointed by the level of input. I was taking part at a master course, where we discussed some aspects of architecture, we learnt about in our first year of studying in Germany! I don't want so say, the education here is bad - definately not! I specially appreciated the focus on global and particularly Asian architecture. But sometimes I missed challenging tasks! I think, developing good architecture is a mind set based on the ability to generate new concepts. And that is something you have to train.

    @ frank&beans: sorry, but I can't believe, that you can gain that by 3 years of TAFE!
    This is something you have to develop over years - and I don't mean, years of drawing plans. We learnt to create new details, new ways of thinking, defining architectural spaces by their genuis loci. Don't tell me, you learn that at TAFE!

    Of course, you can argue, that these are skills, you generally don't focus on when you plan a residental house or an office building. But the thing is, because you study for a quite a while (in Germany even longer than here), this kind of thinking will go over into you flesh and blood - and this what makes the difference.

    Well, maybe your are a genius and you already got it by birth. I don't wanna doubt that. But then your are a very unique individual and I would congratulate you from my heart for having theses skills inherent!

    To come to an end: the problem with the architectural profession ist the same as with computer specialst or footy coaches: your are neither a computer pro, because you know how to install Microsoft Office, nor a good coach because you kick the ball every fortnight, but people tend to do think so! In Germany I go mad, when people think they know about good architecture, just because they have been to a DYO-workshop at the local hardware-shop.

    Still, it is everybody's own decission - so good luck for your architectural future!
    Simone
  • edited January 1970
    Here's a link to a less-than-nice related forum thread from 2004.
    http://www.butterpaper.com/talk/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=93
  • edited January 1970
    Hi "Butterpaperers"
    I have visited this site before but didn't venture into the forum.
    What a refreshing group / discussion from the usual "technical" architectural forums available.

    However, this particular thread does not suprise me but never fails to confuse and disappoint.

    Firstly, for the record, studied Architectural technology 15 years ago, starting as a cadet draftsman, completing my studies and working for a drafting office, and two architectural firms before leaving the industry for three years. At the time, I don't mind saying that the architect that I was working for as well as many that new me personally and professionally thought i was making a big mistake as I was good at what i did. But the reason I did venture out was that i had had enough of this type of "dog fight". It embarrasses me that draftsman felt the need justifiy themselves through associations, Tradeshow stands, etc and Architects feel the need respond.
    For me, and I would imagine the educated public would agree that there is a place for both and the difference is obvious.
    There is so much 'chest pounding' from both side that it frustrates me to the core.
    I get asked all the time "...so you are an architect then?' to which i reply "no, i just design things". it is a shame that I find myself again questioning why I am in this industry and what is it's agenda.

    I love DESIGN in almost all facets. It askes the questons, answers the question and at the same time allows you to do both. There seems to be no right or wrong, just a varying level of appreciation.

    Since those earlier years, I have gone in the way of 3D design modelling, project development, and have developed a passion for Industiral design that i hope someday to pursue. Don't get me wrong, i enjoy what i do and my clients are more thn happy with the output, but If i was closer to the university of choice, i would be there in a flash and follow those dreams.

    Anyhow, this has been the longest post I have ever written and i need to do work. thanks for the chance for 'two-bob'.

    A
  • edited January 1970
    Well. Id hate to be one of those graduate architects with an attitude. But after working in china, where 95% of the architects are cad monkeys i would have to say a good designer is still the soul of an architecure practice. But a soul is nothing without good engineers and experience documentation professionals to back him up.

    architecture is a multideciplinary.

    Also. I see that alot of documentation inthe future will be contracted out to cheaper asian offices. Not one foreign architect does documentation in china, but they are paid about 10 times more than the overqualified local architects that does it for them.

    i guess thats why we want to be architects:D
  • edited January 1970
    OK.....I AM CURRENTLY WORKING FOR AN ARCHITECT FULL TIME AND AN ENGINEER PART TIME. THE ENGINEER IS ALWAYS TELLING ME ABOUT THE MONEY I'M NOT TAPPING INTO BUT I'M NOT EXPERIENCED ENOUGH TO TAKE THAT NEXT STEP. I CURRENTLY HAVE AN ASSOCIATES OF APPLIED SCIENCE DEGREE AND WANT TO HAVE MY OWN ARCHITECTURAL DRAFTING SERVICE SOME DAY. I'M 33 YEARS OLD AND CONFUSED!!! WHAT SHOULD I DO?????
  • edited January 1970
    Well firstly 'Machine' you can remember to turn CAPS LOCK Off when switching from Cad to other programs :D

    But seriously, i think a lot of what i have experienced has been said in one way or form. However I would like to add that studying should be more than a piece of paper to achieve a fatter pay cheque. This is even more evident when it comes to architecture.

    For me it’s a passion that I’ve had since I was young. I went to uni & studied architecture fresh out of high school rather than completing a drafting course (what seems to be a common occurrence) From what I’m reading in this thread and hearing from other people leads me to think that those who tinker with the idea of studying architecture after completing other qualifications should do so with an open mind. Try to put aside the technical no-how and pure line drawing ability and think outside the square. Architecture is more than being able to draft a plan and elevation; it’s about exploring, innovating and acknowledging context. Being able to confidently express an 'idea' or solve a problem creatively. This doesn't mean that all built form needs to look like a Frank Gehry blob it’s about challenging people to be aware of their surroundings and feel some form of connection.

    This in itself is not something that can be taught in a uni however the uni can at least push and guide you to excel. The uni is a resource that encourages free thought and aspiration. It’s a place where ‘like minded’ individuals congregate to discuss and debate and present ideas based on experiences and knowledge. It is a foundation that can be drawn upon (and often lost in the 9 to 5 reality) when faced with a new situation.

    Architecture is more than bricks and mortar. It’s about people and the use of built form by those people. It’s as much about cultural background and historical significance as it is about technology and sustainability. We can learn about these things through texts and other media however it’s better understood if traveled. Getting out of your comfort zone to see how ‘the other half live’ is always my aim in extending my knowledge. And I mean this in both the micro and macro context. Go to a suburb that you have never really been (only heard) venture to a regional town, travel overseas. Catch public transport once in a while instead of driving (or vice versa at least you would have experienced it and have a real knowledge base from which to base an argument at the dinner table).

    I don’t think that any university can teach this but I do know that I’m a better architect (and person) for being taught to think this way. I know I have the confidence to discuss a design or an idea based on my experience. I know too many people who lack the drive and true passion to express and live the life of architecture…I too have been tempted by the dark side (more $$$ for less of a life).

    If its more about the $$ than the passion then I think you will only be wasting you money BUT if you are really passionate about architecture and you’re confident enough to move on without the piece of paper (or 2min noodles), and you feel you have the knowledge and experience to base an educated argument, well…go for it. Otherwise I highly recommend studying architecture.

    Good luck!
  • edited January 1970
    my passion for architecture seems to be more than pure design. its the passion to develope my understanding of every field of architecture and yes it is strong enough for me to inflict myself into the degree. and no its not for the reasons of money or social status associated with it.

    I am a drafti and a recently qual. in interior design and a current student of interior architecture. I aim to do a course in project management afterwards then onto architecture.

    But I feel that to be a good architect (refering to the previous comment on graduates ability) you have to be more than an just an architect. I want also to be able to argue(over the dinner table) on not what duties or whose title deserves more credit but to institute clear a understanding for what the profession is...art. i have done the drafti course and like others want to continue on so i am into my 5th of planned 11 years of college, but i am plagued by various constraints and what ifs. my passion is taking me this way and i personaly dont need advice on if the time it takes is worth it..... i love it and i cant see myself at this point(21) doing anything else but its crippling me in so many ways, but it begs the question. is it right and is there a need for it?
  • edited January 1970
    If building designers and draftis are in any way inferior please show me some hard evidence to support this sentiment. I can also point out many occasions where architect designed buildings are a miserable failures and oppressive for everyone who uses them.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1922306,00.html
    http://www.slate.com/id/97682/

    Studying architecture is a personal pursuit for self gratification and title. It seems to have little to do with excelling in the field.

    read: http://www.archsoc.com/kcas/Namearchitect.html

    If they are doing such a bad job, why has the growth of building designers been so abundant?

    http://www.archsoc.com/kcas/OccupDecline.html
    http://www.archsoc.com/kcas/Bdaa.html#takeon
    http://www.archsoc.com/kcas/Interior.html
  • edited January 1970
    Whoa, media reports that focus on the negative? I never would have guessed?! But then, just because I did a first year journalism subject at university, I don't by any means claim to have a full knowledge of their industry. The same cannot be said of journalists who cover and sensationalise over architectural works they often have little or no understanding about. This isn't a casual observation - it very nearly became my thesis topic as it's so obviously prolific and somehow acceptable in much media; Australian media in particular. And whilst blogs surely have their newfound place in the voicing of public opinion, one blog entry barely serves the detriment of an entire profession.

    As for title vs excellence, I can only build on my own experience and that of those around me. A number of my colleagues currently studying architecture with me at university have either begun as drafties or studied at TAFE to become 'building designers'. One colleague in particular commented that while TAFE was a good start, there was little focus on actual -design-. To balance that out however, it was definitely noticeable that her knowledge of construction and technical details far exceeded anything I have yet learned at university - but, of her own admission, construction is nothing without a solid foundation in design.

    So how to explain the rise and rise of building designers over that of architects? I suggest it could very well be the misconception of 'value for money'. Short term outlay very often overrules any long term investments - architects charge more in the short term, but my understanding (and this is backed up by the REIQ) is that the long term gains far outweigh original costs. The problem lies in the misunderstanding of what good design actually is - everyone in the construction industry claims to have great design, even if this isn't the case. I've seen draftie/building designers work cross my desk with logos declaring their superior design - only to realise that the design itself is particularly undesirable and often completely incorrectly orientated. The same can be said for many project home developments. This all feeds in nicely to the current 'global warming' and energy resourcing debate. If housing in particular continues to be designed poorly with the afterthought of air-con installation, the costs will be more than hefty electricity bills. So if 'good design' is only a marketing tool, consumers will keep believing that that's what they're actually getting. The unfortunate truth is that good design is rarely noticed, but bad design often tends to be. In housing in particular, people are adaptable to conditions, but as a client of my former workplace commented, once you live in a building (in this case a house obviously) that works perfectly, you can't imagine anything else.

    Good design is more than marketing tool; it's a fundamental understanding of holistic and solid principles that, from what I am told, are not taught in TAFE courses and cannot always be picked up on the job.
  • edited January 1970
    The government already has strict standards in place preventing the construction/design of inefficient housing… And legislations are continually getting tighter. Architects and building designers all must follow suit so I can’t see how good design makes a difference apart from aesthetics.

    http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/buildings/code.html

    From an engineering point of view I can understand the upmost importance of a thorough education in construction and building (for heavens we don’t want buildings falling down on us). But as for the good design taught in architecture, I still purport this is more akin to fashion, yes an architect will undoubtable design a more fashionable house, but it will not automatically work or leave a larger environmental footprint than a building designer’s effort. There are no theories/systems or design taught in the architecture degree that cannot be either self taught or picked up on the job. It is just design, it is really very simple. All the information to design a sustainable home/building is readily available to anyone who has the commonsense to find it.

    The building industry on the whole is one of the most environmentally polluting industries on the planet, I also find it hypocritical the way architects purport to be the saviours of the planet yet their industry is leading the charge in destroying it. I also believe it is a glamour industry (aesthetic ruling over substance) with many of its most lauded and acclaimed practitioners labouring over what looks the best.

    I think it’s a romantic notion that good design will somehow help the planet, but unfortunately most starry eyes arch students moral standings will one day be tempered by corporate influences and having to pay a mortgage.
  • edited January 1970
    kashmir wrote:
    But as for the good design taught in architecture, I still purport this is more akin to fashion, yes an architect will undoubtable design a more fashionable house, but it will not automatically work or leave a larger environmental footprint than a building designer’s effort. There are no theories/systems or design taught in the architecture degree that cannot be either self taught or picked up on the job. It is just design, it is really very simple.

    excuse me while i clear my throat for this one *ahem* buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuullshit!

    Good design is not fashion, and if you think that design doesn't come from hard work and that its simple, then chances are your design is rubbish. Everyone has to work hard at design. Everyone.

    If that work is time spent being taught and practicing at university or spent out in the world, discovering and uncovering notions of what is beuatiful and what works, or if it is pondering nature and trying to resolve an issue the way a tree would, it is all work and it is the only way you get to be a good designer/artist/architect. Stark works at it, Picasso worked at it, Corb worked at it.

    An architetcure degree puts this idea at the fore and presses the student to seek and investiagate and try things out and fail and try harder and seek furhter and hopefully succeed at some point. On the other hand i'm sure a TAFE educated draftsman can construct a better CAD block than i can. Design is not very simple. It may come naturally, but it should never be simple. That just means your not putting enough effort in. If it comes naturally, then you just have a head start.

    (Please note: none of this is to say that there are not huuuundreds of god-awful architects out there, doing rubbish designs every day of the year. they shoudl just know better).
  • edited January 1970
    Sorry… I did not put my comment in context. Good design is simple in relation to other professional disciplines (sciences, med, law etc).

    I don’t understand why architects decry “but you don’t understand”… There is no principal, theory or system relating to architecture or its broader context that can not be simply explained to someone with no prior architectural knowledge. Architects love their hyperbole and inflated vernacular, I think they do this to hide the true simplicity of what they do.

    Do you concur “good” design is arbitrary? Do you think all the bad architects who churn out crap all think they are churning out crap? Do you agree one person might find a house “works perfectly” while the next finds it oppressive? Don’t get me wrong, I really like architecture, well designed buildings and what good design can do for the environment. What I don’t like is the claim of title and lofty, distancing stance architects take in relation to their careers, output and contemporaries (see building designers). I just want them to call a spade a spade and get out of their gilded cages.
  • edited January 1970
    I disagree. Good design is the same as good medicine or law or science. Just as mediocre design is the same as mediocre medicine or law or science. Anyone can coast by. Anyone can tick the boxes. People with architecture degrees often do just tick the boxes.Don't think for a second that there aren't average doctors and lawyers out there.

    And i wouldn't say that just because they have been competent enough to pass a few test means that they can produce good architecture. Good architecture is the kind that makes you stop and think or question or argue or have some kind of reaction. Mediocre design is the stuff you don't even bother with, and bad design is the stuff that doesn't work on any level. You can be the judge of that.

    I'm just saying that architects, or those with an architectural education are of the predisposition or of an environment that amkes them question and push boundaries and explore further about the ability of a design. An education that NEVER offers the chance to look at something beyond lines on a page, or an environment that NEVER introduces the designer to new ideas or foriegn notions will never produce good architecture. Mediocre - definitely, bad - god yes, good - nup.

    and PS hell yeah there are goign to be houses that "work perfectly" for one person and not for another. That's because its a bespoke product and the first person was the intended occupant. There's another architecture waiting for that second person.

    And yes, you can explain ideas about architecture. Awesome. I like to think that i can explain them to anyone who is open to the idea. But if that person is not attuned to the influences around them and the information that they will have to seek, then they will never be able to MAKE good architecture. Gotta be able to talk the talk AND walk the walk, Kasmir, me old son.
  • edited January 1970
    nice response... I value good discussion on this topic.. btw when did the word "architecture" become a countable noun? :wink: interesting idiomatic usage...
  • edited January 1970
    kashmir wrote:
    The government already has strict standards in place preventing the construction/design of inefficient housing… And legislations are continually getting tighter. Architects and building designers all must follow suit so I can’t see how good design makes a difference apart from aesthetics.
    The ability to understand and conform with a myriad of applicable codes, standards and legislations is obviously important but is by no means design. And frankly, the current standards do little else than cover the government’s own back. Whilst it's all a step in the right direction, much of it is face-value regulation to make consumers think that by putting a AAA rated shower head and a solar hot water system into their fully air-conditioned, completely incorrectly orientated house, for example, that they have a well-designed, environmentally sustainable design.
    kashmir wrote:
    But as for the good design taught in architecture, I still purport this is more akin to fashion, yes an architect will undoubtable design a more fashionable house, but it will not automatically work or leave a larger environmental footprint than a building designer’s effort. There are no theories/systems or design taught in the architecture degree that cannot be either self taught or picked up on the job. It is just design, it is really very simple. All the information to design a sustainable home/building is readily available to anyone who has the commonsense to find it.
    Having worked in a residential firm for a number of years under a particularly esteemed and awarded architect, the notion of 'good design' as a fashion add-on is beyond belief. As mentioned previously, the designs that crossed my desk from other designers, 99% building designers/draftspersons (and the occasional architect) were pitiful. If 'good design' is so very simple and all people have to do is follow guidelines, then I fail to see why so many (but not all) 'professional' building designers seem completely unable to do so. I've seen the drawn and built evidence of this, and that of home owners who read the guidelines and think they can do it too - to be brutally honest, I've yet to see a good result.

    If anything, the 'designs' that I have seen from building designers are often an assemblage of fashionable styles and materials, and often barely even function, not to mention (and I can't stress enough) horrible orientation that renders houses entirely reliant upon air conditioning. If this is only at the scale of residential design where 'good design' is apparently very simple, imagine the ramifications at larger scales.
    kashmir wrote:
    I don’t understand why architects decry “but you don’t understand”… There is no principal, theory or system relating to architecture or its broader context that cannot be simply explained to someone with no prior architectural knowledge. Architects love their hyperbole and inflated vernacular, I think they do this to hide the true simplicity of what they do.
    The unfortunate truth for architecture is that our knowledge base is design, which believe it or not, is more than codes, sustainable guidelines or even pure functionality. Residential design is more forgiving to poor design than other fields, particularly if marketing tells them their house is a great design - consumers will believe it. Actual holistic design is not widely understood, therefore not widely valued, as a professional basis. I would argue that a comment from someone that design is "really very simple" proves this point fairly well. As with housing and buildings generally, where sometimes you may only become aware of how average (or poor) one design is by experiencing a superior design, perhaps the same applies to the design process. Having been involved in projects from detailing one room to urban design and master planning, my idea of 'good design' is a fair bit more complex than 'what looks good', and by the sounds of it, fairly different to kashmir's idea too. But as with other professions, there is very rarely a single overarching principal - my beloved TV knowledge of law and medicine would tell me that there are a variety of approaches, some better than others, but there still has to be a solid foundation upon which to base these approaches. As I've already stated, my understanding is that TAFE teaches mainly construction and technical skills, and I don’t consider that this can be seen as equal nor superior to a foundation in history, theory and the elusive ‘good’ design.
    kashmir wrote:
    The building industry on the whole is one of the most environmentally polluting industries on the planet, I also find it hypocritical the way architects purport to be the saviours of the planet yet their industry is leading the charge in destroying it. I also believe it is a glamour industry (aesthetic ruling over substance) with many of its most lauded and acclaimed practitioners labouring over what looks the best.
    Yes, how hypocritical it is that the architecture profession leads the way in sustainable design. How naive of us to think that we can make a difference to our industry and our environment, even if it's only one building at a time. If it was all just about what looks pretty, why spend 7 years training to become an 'architect; creator of pretty things that don't quite work and possibly fall apart'? And that's a long time to study and pay hefty fees for a title, only to be paid relatively less compared to other professions (and currently many trades as well).

    Calling a spade a spade is recognising a distinct difference in qualifications and training whilst recognising a need for both. And calling a spade a spade is pointing out that the concept of a 'glamour industry' is laughable - all firms I've worked in are full of hard-working people willing to put in all the overtime they need to achieve the best outcome. Believing (and proliferating) the stereotype of the aloof, arrogant architect who lives the high life is much like believing that draftspeople/building designers wouldn't know how to design a kitchen. In both cases, the stereotypes are very rarely true, so why hold on to such antiquated ideas of architects and their architect-designed gilded cages? :wink:
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