December 18, 2012

The Underdog Architecture Student's "9 Ways Succesfful People Defeat Stress" Response

I just recently ran across this article over the weekend on Harvard Business Review blog site on the 9 Ways Successful People Defeat Stress by Heidi Grant Halvorson. Quite inspired and got a lot from it, I thought I would put an Architecture School twist to the nine points. Some of the nine points were things that I had to work on and realize in undergrad. It is good to read the actual article first before looking at mine architecture students. When I was an architecture student, there were many times I was stressed out. The key is to learn from those experiences by looking at what went wrong, what can be improved and find ways to improve your work ethic and handling of those stressful times. As a lot of students reach the end of the winter term, it might be good to take a breather and look back at how you handled the situation. We don't get any time at all to take a step from the stress of studio and projects during the semester to reflect.

(Here's a heads up: Everyone deals and handles with stress differently - you have to  figure out what works for you. What has worked for me might not work for everyone.)

December 06, 2012

Stay Profesh: The Value of Networking

If you recalled from my recent blog posts, I have always been gravitated and valued being engaged with architecture student and professional associations as an undergrad. They are a great way to meet and network with people in the field. From my involvement with the AIAS at times, and from attending the AIA NY – Emerging New York Architect’s Future Now Summit, last September (blog entry link below), I wanted to find out if there are similar groups that advocate and value architecture and design in hometown, Toronto.

December 03, 2012

Personal Branding (Part II)

“Simply put, a brand is a promise. By identifying and authenticating a service, it delivers a pledge of satisfaction and quality.” – Walter Landor, Advertising Legend.
The second part of this entry could not have been done without the help of a tweet from a friend, and also attending a leadership workshop by leadership coaches Bobby Ummar, Carol Gover, and Karimah Hudda on looking for that “Something Else” in your life. Prior to this workshop I was naive to just think that branding was simply an all-out saturation and bombardment of strategic iconography and consistent graphics. After that workshop (which coincidentally attended RIGHT AFTER writing the first part), my views began to change.

November 29, 2012

Personal Branding (Part 1)

It’s that buzz word that is almost becoming cliché, in my opinion (well for the design circles). But you need to brand yourself as an emerging professional who is networking, looking for work or starting up a business. With my recent affinity to attending networking events and entrepreneurs and one of the trends that I’m seeing is how you stand out in the job market from the hundreds of people competing with for work. Branding is not just important for firms, it’s also important for prospective employees. As emerging designers and professionals who recently graduated or near to finishing their degrees, you have to ask yourselves how you will stand out from the rest of applicants.

November 27, 2012

Studio Tips: Physical Modelling

Though the Laser Cutter, 3D-Printer, and CNC Milling Machine are now becoming the hottest trend in Model Making, an architecture student should know their way around the shop and also how to use the right materials and tools, and able to make physical models out of cardboard and glue. Marrying all old and new technologies in model making will give you an advantage in showcasing your design intent.

November 09, 2012

Bite Back! - The Post Grad Phase

I naively thought it wasn’t going to happen to me. My friends that have graduated have warned me: Prepare for the depressing months after your graduation. And I thought listening to a lot of inspiring TED featured talks from ivy league commencement addresses would be suffice (it helps a bit). For many students, they might begin to do their portfolio – the late bloomers (and I`m in the same boat). Some might get their job offers early since they prepared their portfolio on time during school and just in time to pay their student loans. Some might struggle and have a different scenario. It’s really a waiting game and it can get frustrating and disheartening at times and I try to be positive through this experience. Failing and falling behind has prepared me to be positive through it. A lot of college students deal with this, what I`d like to call the “Post-Grad” phase. 

November 06, 2012

The Art of the Design Review - PART I

The Design Review – it’s the most anxious-inducing, vulnerable conclusion to your design project for studio. To be able to present your design concept and ideas to your peers and a jury of professors and practitioners can be a bit scary. I remember talking to someone when I visited the Pratt Institute for their tours and the student told me that she was critiqued by Steven Holl (If I was in her shoes, I would not know how to keep confident, calm, cool, and collected - I'd probably be scared).

October 30, 2012

Tips in Avoiding Architecture School Freshman Workflow Errors

Simple reminder, but can be easily forgotten or when the stress of architecture school can easily lose some focus and attention to some crucial things. Some are fortunate to not follow these tips and remain unscathed, some students have bad experiences losing their work. Freshmen, here are some things to keep in the back of your head.

October 23, 2012

The Underdog Architecture Student's "10 Things" Response

A recent blog entry by Linda Bennett from, listing the top the 10 things architecture school does not teach you, was tweeted to me from our friends at the Designated Sketcher, along with their blog response to it. Likewise, I decided to add to this online discussion of studio culture through a blog post as well for the underdog architecture student that struggles.

October 15, 2012

If at first you don't charrette...

I want to tell you design students this, I remember almost year ago how scared, shy, and insecure I was when it came to joining design charettes and competitions. Maybe it was the overtly competitive nature of architecture school, I just felt insufficient at times joining in on the action (falling behind was quite a demoralizing blow for me to overcome). Professors and peers around me were willing to ask others if they wanted to join a competition or charrette and I would just feel insufficient in joining them.

October 11, 2012

Process! Process! Process!

Here are the process and final models from me and a friend's studio project.
A great project comes with process and thinking, and not a quick rush that is done at the last night before submission and review (a common mistake seen in some undergrad architecture students). It's a personal challenge, design students tend to be perfectionist, we want it “right” more than anything.  I found that from time to time, wanting and desiring for the “right” solution to come was wasting time and even affected the quality and quantity of the final product for review - Not enough work, not enough thought. You want to take advantage of the time given for a project and use it in probing and exploring your concept. I remember I struggled with this, and for my final studios I was just more process oriented, but lacked enough final work. I value process and I think it’s great, but make sure time is allotted to working for the end result, because that is what matters.

October 09, 2012

Going for a M.Arch - Dive in or wait a little? (PART II)

In our second installation, this is the continuation of our previous post on whether you should dive in to grad school or just give it some time. Note that this is based for students with a pre-professional undergraduate degree in architecture that do not hold an accredited Bachelors of Architecture degree. In Canada, all 11 architecture schools hold an accredited Masters of Architecture and some holding an undergrad degree to prepare it's students. The B.Arch programs of some Canadian Schools have been phased out in the 1990s, inflating the credentials required to become a licensed architect in Canada. This time, we're looking at the good and bad of waiting for Graduate Studies after your undergraduate degree in Architecture! I'm more geared to this scenario, cause falling back meant a few extra years of tuition and I am not sure what I want to do, and when I go to grad school, I want to be confident in my abilities as well as what I want to do with my career.

October 04, 2012

Going for a M.Arch - Dive in or wait a little? (PART I)

(Addendum: This blog entry is primarily based on the Canadian licensing for architecture students. There are no B.Arch programs offered in Canada, but there are pre-professional undergraduate programs in architecture. To be able to start your internship credits and becoming licensed, it's primarily through the M.Arch programs offered in Canada. The US has a different story, but the pattern is the 4years undergrad + 2years M.Arch formula)

This is an important topic, especially for those architecture students who are clearing away their pre-professional undergraduate architecture degree and would like to pursue their accredited Masters of Architecture degree (I'm focusing on the Canadian, and US streams to licensure). From my weekend getaway to New York City, I was able to talk to a lot of people inside and outside of architecture. At the Future Now Summit, we had a networking luncheon where we got to eat a table with an AIA Fellow who lead the conversation and gave their insights about the profession and advice for students and young professionals working towards licensure. I got to hear from friends and newly made connections about architecture and how to go about ones career. Additionally, in the past few years in university, I got to hear from professors, instructors, and peers their advice on if it is good to dive right into graduate school or just wait a while. Additionally, I was at a grad fair at the University of Toronto last night and was hearing from admissions counsellors their views on graduate school applications.

October 02, 2012

Attending the ACO Next Gen Design Charrette

If you have the chance to do a design charette or competition as a student, by all means, you should go for it. It's a great way to work with people and crank out ideas in a short time frame. It's a good way to build confidence - by designing and creatively thinking more and more. This weekend I was at the headquarters of the Ontario Heritage Trust to attend the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) Next Gen Design Charrette. It was great experience, and added a bit of spice to life to meet people, network, and quickly come up with ideas and solutions to a current design issue that I did not really focus on in university with my electives. I wanted to open myself to issues of heritage conservation. 

This charette was focused on two historical early-20th century, Edwardian buildings in the city of Toronto. Two bank buildings with a parkette along Yonge Street, one of the main corridors of the downtown core. It was great day to see again some of my classmates and colleagues from school since graduation; actually one was heavily involved in helping out the organizing for this event.

September 27, 2012

The Future Now Summit!

I just arrived back in Toronto from my little weekend excursion to New York City. For this visit, my purpose was to attend the FUTURE NOW Summit presented by the Emerging New York Architects (ENYA) of AIA NY. I was informed of the event thanks to some good friends I knew from AIAS NYIT. I feel quite rejuvenated and motivated when I attend these architecture conferences as I search for work. Being in a world-renowned city famous for the architecture, meeting and talking to other students and professionals in the architecture industry, and hearing talks concerned with the future of our profession reminds me of why I wanted to be in architecture and how great and important this field is.

September 25, 2012

Weekend New York Trip - FTW!

Looking south on Broadway and the public spaces provided!

Sorry for the delay in posts. Last weekend I travelled all the way to New York City to check out the FUTURE NOW Summit hosted by the Emerging New York Architects of AIA NY. This was a great time for me to meet up with friends that I have made from my previous travels, as well as family that live in the United States. Every trip I make I`m starting to love and appreciate this city more and more every time.

September 18, 2012

Know Your Precedents

One of the things all architecture students should do is to keep up to date with architecture news, read magazines, and look at architecture buildings in person and through publications and readings. I remember, one time in studio, that my friend was telling me to probe and ask questions of why you like the image you see. This was the advice of her undergraduate thesis professor. It got me thinking, we’re constantly looking at architectural examples in and outside of class, through books and websites, and in person through trips and site visits. It is imperative that we go beyond the I-like-it-because-it-looks-nice and start to question why we like it defining why we like what we see.

September 11, 2012

Traits Architecture Students must have

I remember hanging out with a friend in studio on Saturday, eating lunch, and our professor came in. (By the way, yes, architecture school does not consider the weekends as sacred just like a good night’s sleep) We began to talk about what are the traits you need as a student of architecture to survive school.

September 04, 2012

Welcome to the best (and worst) years of your life!

Last all-nighter of my first year!
And our studio prof dropped by in the middle of the night
with snacks and drinks
(I called her the 'Arch' Angel afterwards.)

I wanted to write a post to welcome those who are starting college in September as the labour day weekend means that time of the year (well at least in the North America). Some of you have graduated and are now experiencing the real well as studio withdrawal symptoms. For alot of people, the start of the school year is today, and many will begin their education as architects.

August 31, 2012

Getting a Laptop for Architecture School

A laptop for architecture school is the most likely type of investment an architecture student will make as opposed to a desktop PC – we’re constantly on the go, we need something that can be easily transported, and we need a computer to work on when the computer lab is full, to work in studio or home, or the library. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of having a bulky “PC Replacement” that just failed on me constantly.

August 29, 2012

Things to Look for in a PC for Architecture School!

Having a PC in addition to your laptop is definitely valuable for architecture school. Heck, some students would actually bring their PC to studio and lock it down...or assume that their peers and the security locks to the building and studio will be okay =S. I know how it feels to look for a computer...and believe me, I still struggle with knowing what is best and I would go to my friends for help during the search.

August 27, 2012

Computers + Architecture School

More and more students today have access to a laptop. For architecture schools, this has not only  transformed the way we work as students, it has also transformed the studio environment physically. Goodbye drafting tables with mayline rule and green mat and say hello to generic desks and uncomfortable, pedestrian office chairs!

August 21, 2012

Mental Health Awareness for the Architecture Student.

In August 2012, I was a guest post on Life of an Architect for this entry on mental health awareness and studio culture. I believe that this is an important topic for those struggling and gives hope to other architecture students out there to get help from professional counselling services in order to be your best in studio. 

This post was revised October 9, 2013

August 17, 2012

Perspectives on The Life of an Architecture Student

There are two videos that I have found that portray the life of an architecture student - I found this insteresting - two different views with a different tone painting different images that. Not bashing either, just seeing the differences and commonalities is interesting.

August 14, 2012

The Almighty All-Nighter (Part II)

The Almighty All-Nighter: not necessary, but it is inevitable. For others, necessary in architecture school. They are stressful and unhealthy, and yet we are proud to boast of our 3 to 4 night marathon. (Even friends in architecture school were concerned of a lot of my late nights when I hit a 2nd night in a row). I've seen students that have come up with the best stuff and worked the graveyard shift to have stellar projects, and I've seen students that are not able to make the most of the extra hours deeming it in vain.

August 09, 2012

The Almighty All-nighter (Part I)

Come to the first year studios of my school, the space is cluttered with the graffiti of architecture students past. One can’t help the spray painted message on the broken window: SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK! The All-Nighter is no stranger to architecture students whether you try to avoid it or not.

August 05, 2012

Ma Visite à Montréal

Long time no blog entry - sorry about that. I just returned home from spending my week in one of Canada's major cities - the beautiful and vibrant, Montréal! I finally get to see the city that I was researching into during my second year architectural history course. I was looking into I.M. Pei`s Place Ville Marie and had to contextualize it`s time and place in the development of the city. Additionally, the 60s-70s is my favourite time period to look into Canada`s history. Throughout the 20th century Montréal was in constant competition with Toronto in terms of population and economic growth. I remember from my history and theory classes in architecture school how significant  Montréal was. During the 20th century Canada was modernizing and was getting ready to commemorate it's centennial of confederation.  Montréal sets the stage for this transformation and and coming of age by hosting Expo 67 and the 1976 Olympic Games. Canada wanted to be unique and modern and open itself to the world. I'd like to think of this as the glory days Canada since it is a pivotal moment in the growth and development of this city, our country, and thus our architectural heritage. It was a time of looking to the future and it's potential, a time of innovation, a time to be proud of being Canadian. 

July 26, 2012

You've Been Accepted to Architecture School and Amped Up!

You responded to your acceptance letter and in September you will begin a new chapter in your educational career. Now, for those of you who are eager to find out about architecture school or start getting your hands dirty with what architecture is. I recommend you check out these books and videos if you have time. They don't fully dig deep into what you'll get in 4-5 years of undergrad, as it is just the scratching of the surface, but sure is a great stepping stone this summer.

July 25, 2012

Post-grad life...and where is this blog going?

It's my first summer after graduating last June. Since the move back home and not seeing my friends and classmates and professors as regularly as I did, I have been running into what I'd like to call the "Post-Grad Phase" that many of my friends have warned me about.  It's harder to be productive as I want to....I have to work on my portfolio and sometimes I'm crushed with feeling like my work is not up to par which further sets be behind, or I'm being distracted easily at home (at least when I was in downtown, I would just head to the CAD Lab). The feeling of being jobless is unsettling and depressing, and I guess that is what's forcing me to get my butt on my feet again and at the same time I'm battling my anxieties, perfectionism and lack of rendering capabilities to bring a portfolio together. I'm starting my prayers at church and asking for guidance to get on my feet to work. (I think I hit stagnant after returning home from travelling) I dunno how long this wait we'll be and how much work I need to do with my portfolio (believe me, it has quite a ways to go).

July 09, 2012

Architectural Empire State of Mind (Part II)

Stayed around the Lower East Side!

 It was a bit intimidating at first arriving in New York City...after all, as soon as I arrived at Port Authority, an old man was pretty forward in helping me get a pass and eventually asked me to give him some change, some other guy was trying to sell me his MTA pass, and people were just using the subway station emergency exits and sounding the emergency alarm very nonchalant. On my first subway train to where I would be staying, a homeless person just stands up and gave a speech asking for any donations. Along with feeling socially retarded being the only one yielding to the pedestrian light signals, I realized I am not in a city like Toronto.

July 07, 2012

Architectural Empire State of Mind (Part I)

I’m back in Toronto after a week-long Grad/Birthday Trip to New York City!

At Times Square, looking at the TKTS Booth by Perkins Eastman

I can’t afford Europe or Asia or anything that includes air time for now. However, with a little American Currency on hand, I was able to take the bus and travel to one of the best capital-A Architecture cities in North America. Throughout my undergrad, most of my inspiration and precedent studies in studio came from a lot of recent buildings in New York City. My architecture heroes made their mark and home New York City – Firms from Sharples Holden Pasquerelli (SHoP), Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), Steven Holl, The Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), REX, Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG NYC), Todd Williams + Billie Tsien have made an impact at one point in my educational career in which I studied and looked to them as a source of inspiration. I saw their buildings online and in lectures, and I just had to see these buildings up close and in person to really experience their work. The last time I visited NYC was when I was 13, in August 2001, just a few weeks before the 9/11 attacks. No longer architecturally retarded, a visit to the Big Apple was long overdue. It was time to see the city which has endured so much this past decade and has been able to resurrect itself like a phoenix from the ashes. Even though I plan to go to graduate school in 2 years time, I felt like it was time for me to begin the grad school hunt and tour the schools outside Canada that I am interested in 
At Lincoln Center

I contacted my friends who were in NYC on Facebook and informed them that I was coming, and that whoever had time to spare can chill with me. I was able to hang out at a friends party, on other days I was able to meet up with friends who were willing to accompany me in checking out the city. I set up my little bucket list of spots I wanted to see during the week. I also decided to begin my search for prospective grad schools in the city and scheduled tours and appointments with their admissions office. I bought a guidebook on contemporary architecture (by John Hill, founder of Archidose) in New York City and tagged the spots I wanted to see. I was prepared...perhaps a bit too obsessive like Monica Gellar from the TV sitcom Friends.

Visiting NYC, I was equipped with a subway map with a deceitful scale, a contemporary architecture city guide to NYC, and my printed bucketlist. Definitely buy this book if you are architecture nerd like me - it has maps and subway directions to the buildings discussed.

...this didn’t turn out so well trying to hit all the spots on the list. However it is okay, because whatever I missed on the list, whatever museum was closed – It gives me more reason to visit this city again and again...better yet aim to work or study there.

From my trip, I must say you have to enjoy the chaos of New York City of going here and there. Along the lines of advice from friends – it’s good to plan what you want to see but allow that flexibility – to experience and explore. Be open to getting lost and seeing where it leads you. Be prepared to walk alot...and I MEAN ALOT! There is so much to see, and the deceiving subway map scales can make you think that a walk from 5th Avenue to 7th Avenue would be a cake walk. I really enjoyed the city, not really used to the intense hustle and bustle of the city, but one thing is for certain, I’m willing to go back again.

My next entry will be about some of the highlights of my trip to the city, and some of the favourite places I visited.


June 22, 2012

The Search for Halo-Halo and Turon (and somehow architecture was there)

It's summer time! Besides trying to work on a portfolio and working out (I promise to be stricter on the weight loss after my NYC trip), I'm trying my best at all means to enjoy the break. This time, after working out at the school gym...I decided to go the other way round of being healthy to indulge in some Filipino desserts!

Halo Halo - Filipino Dessert of shaved ice, fruits, beans, jelly, ubé (sweet purple yam), condensed milk, leche flan (egg custard), pinipig (crispy rice, kinda like rice crispies). SO. DAMN. GOOD.

June 11, 2012

Undergrad Done - Thanks Everyone!

To the Ryerson Architecture Class of 2012  (and all my friends in the other years) – It was quite a roller coaster ride and it was a pleasure spending it with you. I'll remember our times inside the Architecture Building, from the all-nighters, weekends, summer breaks, student groups, 325 magazine, and the group projects; we were there for each others moral support and we learned from each other.  Architecture school really tests an individual, and it made us stronger in the end.

I have waited for a while to graduate (some of you know it’s really long), and I couldn’t have done it without the help and guidance of our Almighty God in blessing me with the persistence and wisdom in finishing, along with providing great professors, classmates, peers, and family who supported me through it all. It was a rough 6 years, dealing with success and failure.

Going out of sync with a year (or two) in architecture school can be really difficult and I know how it feels – feeling insecure, isolated, with a new set of peers. Feeling behind and  alone when your friends and classmates who were with you originally move forward and you cannot help but feel stagnant. Those views like feeling that I wasn't the ideal star student I wanted to be, the feeling of being insufficient and feeling like other students had more opportunities than me catalyzed self-loathing and self -doubt which had to be re-framed and challenged. I had to learn how to push away the negativity; I learned how to challenge my own views of myself through introspection.  I had to really dig deep inside to find that student that wanted this since childhood and use that passion and aspiration through finishing school.

It is my faith that God led me through all of this and facing adversity with a purpose to become ever more resilient and humbled. I also had to learn about the importance of working hard and being a team player. I learned that some things in life cannot be rushed and you must be patient. I had to learn the importance of humility. I realized the importance of trusting in God through prayer, which provided me the strength and persistence to finish my studies.

I remember a few years ago, right after failing studio, how I decided to go to church more and just pray to God for help. I asked God to surround me with friends, professors and peers who would support and be with me to the end of my degree, with people who saw potential in me and would overlook the failed studio mark and fell behind. I asked God to help me improve and fix whatever has made me fall behind.

My final two years at Ryerson University attests to my prayers answered - all of you who were with me through these years is a manifestation of how God and faith can overturn one’s bleakest scenario into a positive one. I worked along with you  in studio. Our friendship made our time at university memorable and bearable. Getting the chance to work with you through AIAS, 325 Magazine, and the Helsinki Competition has been a privilege! I am forever grateful to the professors I have had in my electives and in studio who have taught me so much, had faith in my potential,  responded quickly to my emails, and kept their office doors open when I needed help. 

Gonna miss this building...(i'm most likely gonna be back asap...but will miss this)

So here`s to these years of architecture school Ryerson Architecture Class of 2012 and to the awesome professors we have been learned from through these years – Keep in touch! I wish you all the best! 

Screw goodbyes – it`s more about see you later!

June 08, 2012

Goodbye Undergrad - Thanks AIAS!

 I`m dressing up like LeCorbusier all in the name of AIAS Fun
(I less silly than this on regular days)

Before I say my goodbye to undergrad, I reflect on my final years being involved with the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) at my school. One of the things I aspired in university was to get involved in extracurricular activities. I just did not want to be those students that go through the motions of finishing your required credits for graduation – I wanted to be more, and I wanted to do more.

In the early years at school, some of my friends got involved early in our AIAS chapter. They were always pushing me to join. To be honest, I was quite  hesitant and not yielding to their invites (i.e. avoiding them, excuses, etc).  However it changed when I went to my first FORUM conference in Minneapolis in 2009 with some friends who were involved in preparing for hosting FORUM 2010 in our city, Toronto, the following year. I heard great speakers talk about architecture education and the state of our profession, and I got to experience the energy that is FORUM (I must admit, I was really shy in my first FORUM).

Following the trip, I told my friends that I wanted to help out and get involved with the organization and helping out for FORUM in our city. My involvement was little at first, but then I wanted to sign up for Chapter Events Coordinator for the following year. I was entering in what I thought would be my final year of studies, and figured I’d go out with a bang finish my last year by being involved and doing service to the school.

However, I flunked a course in school...that was overwhelmingly demoralizing (I'm in school for another year, and I am once again with a different graduating year). Despite that, I chose to stick it out even though there were times I felt awkward being the kid from another year. Being involved with the AIAS forced me to be at school regularly and to be more engaged in the wonderful world of architecture - it got me going to the finish line. It pushed me to show face at school, beyond the self doubts I had in myself. The unfortunate experience of failure made me realize the struggles that students face in architecture school, and the flaws of the current architectural education system (there are scholars that challenge the all-nighters, and the accessibility of our profession). I wanted to help the students in my school, especially those that struggled like me. It made me more compassionate and not-so-quick to judge those students who struggled.

Grassroots 2011 - AIAS Leadership Conference - Tour of the national monuments!
The AIAS gave me a chance to hone and brush up my leadership and management skills. I met many architecture students and friends from different parts of the US, who shared the same passion and civic responsibility as I did. I got to travel to conferences across the United States and hear keynote addresses of various intellects and practitioners who have contributed to architectural discourse and the architecture industry. I enjoyed visiting the known architecture of other American cities, physically seeing the buildings my professors mentioned in class, and being able to set foot in those places and experience the architecture. The AIAS broadened my network of friends and colleagues who are just as passionate about the field of architecture as me and experienced the things that all of us architecture students face.  It was a great organization and I hope to get involved again in the AIAS at whatever grad school I end up in to get my M.Arch.

Getting a tour of the Phoenix Public Library at last year`s FORUM Conference

So for those who are reading this, all I can say is thank you for the memories AIAS. It’s been a pleasure being the Ryerson Chapter Events Coordinator (2010-2011) and Chapter Vice-President (2011-2012) in my final 2 years of at Ryerson. From FORUM, to the chapter trip to Boston, to DC, to Phoenix, to the seminars and workshops on portfolios and career preparation, the free starbucks coffee give aways, and the moments I had the guts to do the silly stuff  – it’s been a blast and made these final years in architecture school, 10 times better.

My advice for architecture students - DEFINITELY GET INVOLVED (Don't wait late like I did, I regret not getting involved earlier on in the game - It will really enhance your years in architecture school, and supplement your architectural education to develop the soft skills you need in the workplace).

Till then AIAS Ryerson, Stay Classy - As Always. Peace.
(I really don`t know what pic to finish off with) 

March 14, 2012

In the heat of it all. Final Semester

I just felt like writing about my experiences as I'm finishing off my final semester.

The tone is a bit different, there are a lot of things to be done despite having a lighter course load than everyone. I'm currently designing a Catholic Church in Toronto's West Don lands, helping out a design competition for a Library in Finland. I'm pulling alot of all-nighters for studio, modelling and sketching away. Stressful at times, but realizing that this is what you wanted - I would not want to trade it for any other career field in the world.

I'm striving to not to get too mired in the mindset that it's almost done. I guess i'm feeling a bit insecure from the last time I felt that I was gonna own it and have a piece of cake with third year, and boom it meant staying back another year. I'm hard on myself, and I guess I'm just not wanting to get too excited when it is not over just yet.

I'm actually understanding a bit more of the personal issues that has hindered me in finishing on time my degree. Acknowledgement and learning to grow from the experience is the first step to improving yourself. Personally, I feel like if i can go through architecture school again, I'll be able to manage it more better. Sometimes the setbacks are what makes us better. Failure is what makes you stronger and makes you reflect all aspects of where you gone and what pushes you.

The time to graduate will be bittersweet, I'm gonna miss architecture school. It'll be hard to let go and I really want to leave after being here for a while, however I know i'm going to miss it. The friends, the faculty, the peers. the late nights working on studio with your friends and the involvement with the local AIAS chapter at my school. All these things I will miss. I'm gonna miss the design projects, the research, the resources, the involvement. I've been in academia for a long time and it's only now when i'm actually understanding the lessons and values of an architectural education.

I have hopes that someday I'll be able to find success and fulfillment in a Graduate school as well as success in a career with the help of God. I remember this moment talking to a classmate in my rendering course through the continuing education classes offered in my school. She told me that everyone runs into that "blip" where you struggle and things in life get messy. It's that moment when you are tested and you become tempered and resilient upon reflection. Persistence and drive will reflect if you are truly committed to your field. Happy days will come and go.

So I close this blog entry excited and anticipating that the end is near, not trying to get to focused on it, there's still a few more weeks left of this semester. I'm excited and anxious as this chapter of my life ends and a new one begins.

January 11, 2012

Reflections from my winter break in the US

(This was a blog entry I was typing on my way back to Canada at the end of winter break in January. However, thought it should be posted up nonetheless here's the preamble:

I think looking at this entry, it reminded me of the life lessons I got from my travels, realize I gotta really work hard to keep it in me and remember cause during the school year and in the stress of it all, it's hard to remember it. I think I need to really define my boundaries of when too much hard work is too much. I'd like to think I'm doing way better now in school than I was a year ago and I think that is a better. I'm not going to compare myself to others right now, not to how other people perform, but how you have grown overall over time is truly the best. If my time ain't gonna be in undergrad...there's always graduate a different university...)

I'm just ending my trip to the United States

What I'm realizing from the experience.
Be fearless. Make Mistakes. Have the guts to stick it out what situation it leads to. I'm gonna be honest, I did a drawing that went against the rules of technique and style that was prescribed. But I was willing to take that risk, and face the consequences. Failure makes you stronger. And don't let that snobby condescending "A-Student" ("A" as in Straight-A aka "A$$#*LE"), or that studio professor discourage you. Some of the best designers went big to spark a conversation and dialogue and reaction - unapologetic if some people dislike what they did.

Become better at managing your time. I'm starting to realize that things our better when it's slowly being built, rebuilt, and revised - like a snowball rolling down a hill getting bigger and bigger.

Have faith in yourself. Do your best, and be happy of what you achieved comparing to what you did in the past, and not where others are. this leads in to my next point.

I think this is a touchy-feeling one. And one of the stories that Mike Lin talked about was about one of his TA`s that passed away. And that story really struck a chord. The moral of this story is that we all have one life to live, and when it`s over we do not want to have any regrets. We can work soo very hard to becoming the best student and crazy designer, however all of that can easily be taken away. I`m not advocating the need to slack. But it reminded me that I need to give myself a break and enjoy life.

Savour the things in this life that are important to you. God, Family, Friends. Live in alignment by your values and integrity. Be humble. Don`t let life`s struggles and trials wear you down. Stay positive and determined.

January 10, 2012

Be Loose Architecture Students.

After AIAS FORUM, I decided to swing by Las Vegas to attend the Be Loose Graphic Workshop by Mike Lin. Mr. Lin is one of the most famous and sought out instructors who is famous for hand graphic rendering and representation. The workshop is a bit pricey, but if you're a student...AND additionally an AIAS member and can afford to take a week trip to Vegas, you can get your tuition fee reduced.

I'm realizing that as a designer, I'm starting to become more interested in hand drawing and old school methods (probabaly because I haven't gotten a good chance of intensity in school to jump in on the digital fabrication stuff...and somehow it's working itself out where I'm exploring where my strengths really lie as a designer). I need to sharpen my swords to design.

Translating what we conceive in our minds to that evocative sketch slowly and develops into a space that is habitable and experiential is what I'm interested. It's what Juhani Palassmaa argues and warns us in his books The Eyes of the Skin and The Thinking Hand that the computer can lead us to designing sterile spaces that lack a human scale and feel, and that our direct use of hands in the doing to make architecture is more evocative, human, and emotional.

I wanted to attend the workshop because I wanted to tighten up my drawing skills, as well as gain more confidence as what Mike promises and delivers. From previous entries, know that I'm two years behind my degree - and for those of you that experience setbacks and failures, It can be really disheartening. I`m straddling the lines between confidence and self-loathing, between working excessively hard and giving yourself some slack. I feel that the workshop drawing exercises and the words of wisdom kinda push yourself to learn more about yourself, reflect on your work ethic and values, and furthermore realizing your potential that anything can happen when you work towards something. Not only that, be happy for your improvements from then and now and not between you and them.

The experience was rewarding. I got to make more friends, and talk to people from various fields - Architecture, Landscape, and Interior Design. Some of the licenced architects in our class encouraged me to keep going. They actually liked my work, and told me to keep working towards becoming an architect. One of them mentioned to me that it`s really about just finishing the degree and not the grades. Some of the TA's mentioned how a setback in design school will mean nothing in the long run for those who want to get in the field. I had a great time, and apparently we were one of the best classes since all of us got along very well. For those students that have experience that hopeful, It will work its way out. My next entry will be a reflection from my two weeks stay in the US, and how AIAS Forum and the Be Loose Workshop have gotten me to reflect on life and career.

I Just got (AIAS) FORUM'D

This winter break, I decided to head south to the desert. I was in Phoenix, Arizona for the convention of the American Institute of Architecture Students - the 56th annual AIAS FORUM. This was a great time to re-connect with the friends that I have met in the past year at FORUM when my chapter hosted it in Toronto, and going to the AIAS Grassroots Leadership Convention in Washington.

I really encourage alot of you architecture students to take advantage of student organizations like this because they give you the edge to gain more insights to our profession. Travel is very important to experience as an architecture student, and if you cannot get the opportunity to go across the seas, going to a different North American city can expose you to different issues and experiences that will furthermore inform you as a designer.

This year's convention centered around the theme of Solutions. And we see the various ways in how designers look towards realizing and solving the problems our world and profession faces - as exemplified in the nightly keynote address. Jeffrey Inaba showed in his Keynote the importance of graphically representing data in the design process to illustrate the scope and weight of issues, all the more leading to a much more stronger response to a problem. Teddy Cruz was looking at the current socio-economic issues and it's impact on urban form. Cruz's lecture was thought provoking - informing architecture students to really scrutinize the social, political, and economic factors underlining the design problem. A fuller understanding of a design problem can push us to look at new alternatives to the current design solutions we have. David Zach also dropped by to give us a lecture concerning the future of the world and what are the skills and values that designers need to cope with the emerging trends and technologies. Brad Landcaster gave a humourous and inspiring lecture showing how true sustainable design is attainable and why it must be the norm for designers to imbue into their projects. Definitely it has inspired me to really think about sustainable principles in a design.

These conventions also give students a chance to visit some interesting buildings that the city is all the more well known for. I was fortunate enough to check out the Burton Barr Central Library, which I always remember from the lecture of my second year Theory/Studio professor. This tour gets better - we were toured by the architect who was involved in the design, and was able to get the ins and outs of the building. The same went for the new additions to the Phoenix Art Museum by Todd Williams + Billie Tsien, we were given an introduction by the local architect who worked with them in the additions.

There were so many workshops, and I was fortunate to go to two of them, one of them focusing on communication and public speaking - It pointed out some flaws I need to work on to connect with people. The second one was a leadership seminar lead by our newly elected 2012-2013 AIAS President. Both workshops were enlightening and reminded designers the importance of soft skills and leadership.

Also, this is not just a conference for just academic pursuits - there is the fun aspect. AIAS FORUMs connect you to architecture students from all over the world who share a passion for architecture. you get to socialize in meetings/workshops/tours and on the way, while you wait, when you chill in the lobby/bar/restaurant and lounge. There's also opportunities during the social nights and the Beaux Art Ball.

As with all the AIAS conferences, each one I attend, I try and grow more as a person and push myself. I remember my first conference in Minneapolis and how shy and quiet I've been. and then Uly-Spice in Toronto. Now this year - I decided to do my first charette and I've been more social to connect with people, reunite with friends I've made, create new friendships, and move forward. In closing, I'd like to end this entry with what might be my final AIAS roll call - singing in front of 500 or more architecture students (unless I can afford and hopefully go to Grad school in the States with an AIAS chapter...or bring the AIAS to another Canadian University that I choose to go for my M.Arch). Cheers and Happy New Years from Uly-Spice!

To be (an Architect) or not to be, that is the question
Goodbye Undergrad! Thanks AIAS!