Here's the deal: I've been a healthcare architect for about six and a half years now, and I recently was assigned to the project of a lifetime. The project is an inpatient mental health hospital in the northwest, which is not only related to my thesis project (an inpatient mental health facility for the homeless mentally ill), but it's also a hard project to find under any circumstances. Due to the rise of HMOs and their financial strength, inpatient stays for mental health care are becoming more and more rare, so it's hard to find the financing to build a new mental health hospital. (More on this in a later post--I'm not riled up enough right now to go off on the state of mental health care in the U.S. yet.)
So, I've started this blog just as the project is about to take off and my involvement in its design and construction begins. But I also wanted to give the public at large a better sense of just what it is that we architects do. Let's begin with some FAQ:
What does it take to become an architect?
There are several ways to become one, but the fastest way (not that the process is fast, per se) is to acquire a professional degree, which is either:
- a five year Bachelor of Architecture (B. Arch) degree
- or a four year Bachelor of Arts in Architecture or Bachelor of Science in Architecture Studies (B.A. or B.S.A.S) followed by a Master of Architecture (M.Arch)
I received my B.S.A.S in 1998 and my M.Arch in 2000, both from major colleges in the Southeast.
Architecture school is tough. Actually, saying architecture school is tough is like saying Hurricane Katrina was an air current. The history and technology classes require a lot of studying, and the studio class each semester keeps future architects awake and late-night coffee shops in business. On every college campus, the lights are on 24 hours a day in only two buildings: the student center and the College of Architecture building.
Wow, that's a lot of schooling. But then you're licensed, right?
Nope. After school, you then have to work under the direct supervision of a licensed architect for a minimum of three years in order to acquire the hours of experience required to sit for the ARE, the Architectural Registration Exam, or as I called it while taking it, the Asshole Reaming Exam. The exam has nine parts that can be taken all together or separately, each part costing over $100 each. If you flunk a section, you can't take it again for another six months, and you have to pay for it again.
Golly, that's a lot of work to become an architect. Bet y'all make mad cash, yo!
No. While our education and licensing procedures are comparable to that of many medical professionals, their financial compensation far outpaces ours. Fresh out of grad school in the summer of 2000, my yearly gross was $30,000. Licensure, along with an increase in responsibilities, has allowed me finally to make the kind of money that leaves me more than one paycheck away from homelessness.
Wow, yo, that ain't right.
Yeah, that shit's fucked up. Bitches ain't pay a sista a damn thang.
Yow! Do you kiss your momma with that mouth, missy?
Actually, yes. A former form carpenter who built concrete-frame bridges, she taught me to talk like that. I got worse in architecture school, and my profanity has become pathological since joining the profession. So piss off.
Maybe that's enough Q & A for now.