How can I learn more about Landscape/Architecture? Looking to switch majors
October 2, 2011 9:43 PM   Subscribe

Looking to switch to a landscape/architecture major....advice?

I'm currently a geography major at Virginia Tech looking to switch into the architecture or landscape architecture program here, which are both rank very high.

What are ways to educate myself in landscape architecture or architecture? I read blogs and have talked to current landscape/architecture majors, but that's about it.
posted by enroute888 to Education (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How long do you have to decide? At the very least, meet a few practicing architects and landscape architects for informational interviews - much better would be to shadow someone for a few days, if they'll take you, to see what the career is really like. The day-to-day of the job and the economic realities are important and often unglamorous, however much fun blogs make it look. Talk to the professors, too. Read the forums on archinect, especially stuff about the education and about Virginia Tech.

Architecture makes for a brutally demanding education that will require you to sacrifice in many other areas of your life, and I'm not sure it's always rewarded. (There's certainly more financially rewarding paths, for the amount of time required.) I don't mean to be a massive downer, and Virginia Tech's program has a great international reputation, but please don't go into this at all casually because damn, geography sounds like a pretty good starting point unless you're certain about architecture specifically.
posted by carbide at 1:04 AM on October 3, 2011

I know this was not the question but I want to make sure you know that an architecture major is a difficult major to switch into if you have intentions on graduating in 5 years (VT bachelors of Architecture is a 5 year program). If you are a freshman you might be able to get all the necessary 1st year classes in the second half of your freshman year or in the Summer before your sophomore year. The first year classes have more flexibility and VT, like many schools, combines all the first year students for all the designs majors. The 2nd year on will not likely offer much options to accelerate the program, which means you will need 4 years to complete the 2nd-5th years (bachelors of landscape architecture is also 5 year according to the VT website). So assuming you can fulfill all the 1st year design foundation class before fall 2012 you will be scheduled to finish the program in Sping 2016.

The other option is getting into a Masters of architecture program for students that have a non architecture bachelors degree, these programs are 3 years and sometimes include one summer session (a typical M. arch degree is 2 years). If you are within 2 years of graduating now this will probably be a better option. Most schools that offer a Masters of architecture also offer this 3 year program including VT and University of Virginia. This is the option I did as I decided to go into architecture as a junior business major.

As far as what you should know before going into one of these programs: For the bachelors of architecture you do not need to go out of your way to educate yourself the program will start from the ground up. Buy a sketchbook start sketching, it doesn't matter what just get used to putting ideas on paper legibly.

If you go into a masters program you will need a portfolio of any visually creative work/projects. Maybe take an architectural history class as an elective or if you can squeeze in a design/art studio class while you are finishing up your current degree.
posted by Ommcc at 1:59 AM on October 3, 2011

Actual architects and architecture students will probably have more up-to-date advice, but ten years ago when I was going through a quarter-life crisis and thinking about studying architecture I picked up a copy of Architect? A Candid Guide to the Profession. I found it to be a good, grounding survey of just what aspiring architects are getting themselves into. (I ultimately decided that it's not the life for me.)
posted by usonian at 11:05 AM on October 3, 2011

The book usonian mentioned is still a good starting point. The most important thing is to talk to young-ish people (30s) who are working at firms. Not students, because school is totally unlike work (although you still have to slog through school to get there) and not to design leads or principals of firms, because you won't get to do what they do for at least 10 years, and more likely 20 or 30 or never (not kidding). Many, many people who start their education in architecture switch to something else; many of the rest who start their careers in architecture switch to something else. Only very dedicated people, for whom no other career is satisfactory, stay in the field and find success and satisfaction. Make sure you are (or at least might be) one of those people.
posted by Chris4d at 12:14 PM on October 3, 2011

Also, bear in mind that success in architecture requires a similar scope of education to law or medicine, in terms of breadth and depth of mastery required in diverse topics: business, real estate, construction, contract law and liability, systems engineering, visual and verbal communication, sales and marketing, etc. The point being, design is only a small part of practice, and your education is never really complete. Also, the pay is generally terrible, and depends greatly on the economic cycle (would you like to graduate with an advanced degree to make $10/hr for 60 hours a week? Maybe if you REALLY love the work...)
posted by Chris4d at 12:25 PM on October 3, 2011

« Older help me stack the odds in my favor   |   Can a foreigner buy an elephant in Thailand? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.