A Point In Design

Ask the Author – What to look for when buying a house
October 25, 2009, 6:43 pm
Filed under: Design Advice - Ask the Author

chosing a house
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Design Advice – Ask the Author
October 6, 2009, 8:25 pm
Filed under: Design Advice - Ask the Author

Have a question for the author relating to design, design school, architecture?  Write your question in the comments section and I will do my best to answer it.

Question: Do you have any advice for students/new designers in how to cope with the current recession/depression facing the building industry and the architecture profession in general?

Answer: I found a great article by Scott Simpson on the Design Intelligence Blog which addresses  this very problem. I found it very motivating while offering many suggestions for students in this tough economic climate.

Knocks: Advice to New Graduates

Posted: February 27th,
2009 | Author: Scott Simpson | Filed
Education, Professional
| Tags: , |

A new class of architecture graduates is about to enter the profession, and
the timing couldn’t be worse. The economic crisis has affected nearly all
industries and markets, and design is hardly immune. Firms across the country
are reporting rapidly diminishing backlogs, scarce prospects for new work, and
significant staff cuts, even at the senior levels. Those firms that are
weathering the storm, at least so far, are not hiring. The next generation of
designers has a lot to offer: They are tech-savvy and full of ideas; they care
deeply about the environment and are convinced that design can make a
difference. Unfortunately, many of them also carry a heavy load of debt. There’s
a real risk that this next cohort of talent could fall victim to the bad economy
and leave the profession altogether. What’s a young graduate to do in these
troubled times?

Start by recognizing that while things are tough, the sun still comes up
every morning. Stay calm. The economy is down but not dead. Much of your success
will be dictated not by circumstance but by attitude, and this is something over
which you have a great deal of control:

1. Know that your education is a long-term investment and that nobody can
repossess it, no matter how much money you owe.

2. Remember that when you start at the very bottom, the only way to go is up.
From this, you will gain great resilience and self-confidence.

3. Understand that design school is as much about a way of thinking as it is
about making objects called buildings. Use this to broaden your perspective.

4. Recognize that lots of things get designed — both products and processes.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be about bricks and mortar to matter.

5. Investigate programs such as the Peace Corps, Habitat for Humanity, or the
U.S. Agency for International Development. There’s a need for your skill set out
there somewhere.

6. No matter what, don’t waste your downtime. Consider travel, which is
always enlightening.

7. Get a job on a construction site … any job will do. This will open your
eyes in ways you cannot begin to imagine.

8. Build a house on an abandoned lot with recycled materials. Show the world
that good design can be had at any price.

9. Maintain your sense of humor and stay optimistic. Nobody likes a

10. Realize that this may be the first but it’s certainly not the last
recession you’ll ever encounter, so maintain perspective.

11. Poverty is not fatal if you do it right. Stay alert … you might actually
learn something.

12. Study history: What great buildings were created during severe economic
times? (Hint: the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center are two
examples.) Emulate.

13. Consider extending your education into law, business, environmental
science, public health, etc. Concerned about cost? See Item 1.

14. Assume that you’re immune to the bad economy. Decide to get a job, and
one will appear. Good intentions are very powerful, and luck does play a

15. Be humble and grateful. Remember that there are lots of people in the
world who are much worse off than you are.

16. Keep dreaming and sketching. Maintain a diary or a journal, then convert
this into a best seller (a novel, movie script, pop song, or opera will do!).
Remember that J.K. Rowling was a welfare mom when she wrote the first Harry
Potter book, and now she’s richer than the Queen of England — literally.

In other words, don’t let yourself be defined by a job. Keep thinking like a
designer. Designers are problem solvers. They are open to new ideas. They
understand systems. They appreciate how the big picture depends on the smallest
details. And they know that what they do makes a difference … at any age.