Architecture at Dalhousie incorporates two Co-Operative work terms into the program, one in the fourth term of the Bachelor of Environmental Design Studies portion (lasting four months), and then another in the Masters of Architecture portion (lasting eight or nine months). At this point in the program, I am in my fourth term, B4.
Before the application process begins, many hours are put into the design and compilation of a Work Term Portfolio - the most important record of your work. Not only must you make good work in school, but you must also be able to document and process it. Moreover, its not just about putting the work forward- it must be a well designed document that brands you.
After hours, days, and weeks of building my portfolio, I began applying for jobs. I am not going to turn this into a how to type of post, so I'll move on and disclose that I took a job with an Architecture firm in Calgary, Alberta.
While I never imagined myself working and living in Calgary, the firm itself was what ultimately brought me there.
Let me explain:
(1) I was looking for an office with a diverse team with more than just architects. The firm has an interesting mix of architects, architecture students, designers, interior designers, and more.
(2) I was looking for an office with a diverse body of work, to get exposure to a number of things "architecture can do". The firm designs and oversees the construction of buildings, but they also do interior design, industrial design, as well as various levels of innovative and interesting space planning and investigation into alternative work arrangements.
(3) I am also interested in a work-life balance. Often romanticized are the long and intense hours an architecture student must put in at school. I am one of those that believes total immersion is not about balance, it's about total commitment to architecture while everything else dwindles to nothing. However, it is extremely important to note that this sort of behaviour is impossible to sustain for long periods of time. While the practice of architecture is countlessly noted for its long hours as well, I am very interested in alternative and better methods of practicing architecture in the professional world. This firm promises that 40 hours a week is possible. The idea is to show up to the office and stay focused; make the best work you can while you're there there, and then go home.
Outside of work, life in Calgary has been surprising fun an diverse. After I landed in Calgary, one of the first things I did was buy a bike. I'm a strong believer that travelling by bicycle around the city is the fastest way to learn about that city. You are out in the air, near and between the cars, and you can still interact with people. You learn the streets, the typography, and learn how the traffic moves and how people drive- its fantastic!
So I'd like to leave with a few photographs of my bicycle and the first week in Calgary.
Many mornings I got up early to try out a new cafe near work, before I headed into the office. Here's a photo at Fratello Analog.
And, oh yeah. It SNOWED for three days in early September not long after I arrived! (But it did go away).
And the sun came back out in full force. Here's a photo of a weekend cappuccino at Phil & Sebastian, and it's 25 degrees outside!
And that is the first week in summary. I'll do my best to get a few posts up over the workterm here, and I plan to get out on the weekend to shoot some photographs.