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Thread: Architecture firms with international projects

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jul 2007
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    Chicago, IL
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    Architecture firms with international projects

    I will be attending grad school starting this fall and have been trying to pinpoint a more specific direction I would like to take in planning... and then match those interests to my skills. I am increasingly thinking that I would enjoy working for a larger architecture firm with an international scope. I have found several firms like this that hire everything from architects to engineers to planners, and was wondering if anyone on this forum is employed at a place similar to these? If so, is what you do more in the urban design realm(i.e. would i need to have drafting skills etc)? I am interested in both physical planning and international development, so this type of job would seem to be a perfect comprimise. Love to hear any advice/comments...

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by s1m0n66 View post
    I will be attending grad school starting this fall and have been trying to pinpoint a more specific direction I would like to take in planning... and then match those interests to my skills. I am increasingly thinking that I would enjoy working for a larger architecture firm with an international scope. I have found several firms like this that hire everything from architects to engineers to planners, and was wondering if anyone on this forum is employed at a place similar to these? If so, is what you do more in the urban design realm(i.e. would i need to have drafting skills etc)? I am interested in both physical planning and international development, so this type of job would seem to be a perfect comprimise. Love to hear any advice/comments...
    Hi there,

    Are you referring to only architectural firms or masterplanning firms as well? Anyway, I used to work for an international masterplanning firm...but here are some other big international names (which I'm sure you've heard of)...EDAW, SOM, KPF, Gensler, etc. I would recommend going to an architectural firm instead to be quite honest. As an urban designer, yes you will need to draft....not only in the context of creating plans and urban analysis, sometimes you will be expected to draw artist impressions of a proposal...e.g. what it looks like if it was built...these are usually relating to pedestrian expereinces. As an urban designer, you will also need to be extremely well-versed in Illustrator and Photoshop, and sometimes CAD but that's kind of in the architectural realm. Depends on whether you are an urban designer or urban designer / architect in your title.

    You say you are interested in phsyical planning and international development but that's kind of vague....that was the trouble with me too three years ago. that was exactly what I was interested in....but didn't have such a great idea about what a planner exactly does on a day-to-day basis. I did ask people but it was always very vague. They should have just told me that they just summarise all day long. You can refer to the other posts in the Career advice forum and Student Lounge forum to get an idea from my posts....It seems like a lot of people felt the same way. Before you go into a planning masters, you must fully realise that this masters most likely will be ALL ABOUT THEORY, so you will graduate in two years wondering what it is that you can do with it. What degree are you getting at which grad school?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Chicago, IL
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    Looking over your past posts it does sound like we have relatively similar interests, and many of those firms you named were ones that I had been eyeing. I also did part of my undergrad at the London School of Economics and for a while was seriously considering returning for my grad degree. It looks like I was accepted to two of the same schools you were back on the east coast but I ended up enrolling at UIC, partly because of the program and partly because I moved here after graduation and love Chicago and don't feel like moving back east quite yet. You touched in some of the posts on regretting getting a planning degree, and how your prior knowledge of what exactly planners did was pretty vague... to some degree, this is a fear of mine as well. My background is in political science (so unlike you i actually enjoy a certain amount of theory) but I worked in a planning policy focused firm for a summer, so I have at least some concept of what it entails. I also will not be taking out any loans or anything, so on the off chance that I do not like my job prospects afterward, than at the very least I will have gained some new skills. Having said that, I have very little doubt that this is what I want to do. Maybe it is naive but one of the things I like about a planning degree is that even though it is specific and technical, you can still get jobs in all realms of work (city, architecture, masterplanning, UN/USAid, non-profits etc etc). I am actually in the process of setting up an informational interview with someone from SOM, but I would love to hear more about what your day to day looked like at your masterplanning firm... even if it is negative.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    new york
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    Hi S1m0,

    I posted this in another forum about my day-to-day duties at the international masterplanning firm. I won't name with one it is but it's one of the ones I listed before.

    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=33597
    Look at the 3-31 post

    Check it out and let me know what you think.

    With regards to the degree...don't get me wrong...I really enjoyed reading the theories and so on (in fact, I graduated at the top of my class) but what the fustrating thing was how impractical it was afterwards. Literally, I walked away thinking, yes, I read a lot of great books and theories about social justice and sustainbale development, but I wasn't sure what it was I LEARNED that I can use, if that makes sense.

    I think it would be naive to think that with a planning degree is 'sepcific and technical'...as a matter of fact, it is the complete opposite.

    By the way, this is just my viewpoints on the jobs that you mentioned you can get with a planning degree:

    - city: this is a bit boring from what I have heard from my planning colleagues. This is very much develeopment control and interpreting what the policy says, which is vague and boring to begin with.

    - architecture: there's no chance there unless you have an MArch. As a planner, though, you can work with architects though on multi-disciplinary projects.

    - masterplanning: contrary to what anyone says....planners are not masterplanners! we planners are simply those people on a masterplanning project who look up the policies, summarise them in reports and organise consultation activities. it's incredibly dull. some people are perfectly happy with doing that, but this was rare. Seriously. Sometimes it was so boring, I literally wanted to kill myself. The projects will 'sound' interesting and look great on the CV. You probably will enjoy it for about 2 years MAX. The only ones that seemed to enjoy it longterm were the loudmouth brownoser ones who everyone hated at the firm.

    UN/USAid/Non-profits: Yeah, this is what I wanted to do before. I went to the DPU at the Bartlett UCL which basically specialises in this. But looking at the career opportunities, this is seriously NOT realistic unless you want to be making practically NOTHING and live overseas for months at a time. This means you will not have time to have any kind of relationships with people back home. This really requires a special kind of passion.

    Let me know what you think....seriously, I don't know why I'm even posting this but I really just wanted to share this with someone to prevent others from making a similar mistake!! But then again, everyone is different...=)

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