December 30, 2013

The Underdog Architecture Student's Top 5 Posts of 2013.

As we close the year off, I would like to wish you a happy new year. I looked through my blog stats for this year and these are some of the top 5 blog posts that I wrote for 2013.

December 23, 2013

Seasons Greetings! From My Studio Desk to Yours!

To close the year off, I would like to send my warmest wishes to all my readers and followers! I wish all of you a Happy Holidays and a prosperous 2014.  All of you have given me a voice to share my story, my experience, and my reflections as a architecture blogger and it is ultimately you that have made The Underdog Architecture Student’s Blog where it is today.

December 16, 2013

Why I am NOT applying for M.Arch (right now)

For Canadian Architecture students like me, there is a pressure on those who want to become fully licensed architects. The baseline is the M.Arch as all Canadian undergraduate schools of architecture do not offer the accredited 5-year B.Arch (In Canada,  we have what is known as the “4+2 system” in the US).

December 09, 2013

Kisses of Death: The Recent Grad's Architecture Job Application

When applying and hustling for work for a year after graduating, and working for just about half a year, I got to see a bit of what goes wrong upon the receipt of a recent architecture graduate’s application. Here are the “kisses of death” many recent design have done to their applications. I’m more compassionate to design students because you probably did not consider career counselling advice when you were just too busy finishing your studio project. I hope these tips improve your chances Architecture Students:

November 19, 2013

Architecture School Shopping - Part II: The Student Experience

On  the last entry on school shopping, I focused on issues concerning practicality and career readiness. In this post, I finish off with issues concerning the architecture student experience as a factor when you look for the architecture school you want to get into.  You probably would not be considering these issues when looking for a college as a senior high school student, These are my views based on looking back at my college experience. Architecture School is demanding and requires a lot of time: the architecture building on campus can be in use 24/7 during an academic year, especially near deadlines. 

October 30, 2013

Kiss of Death: The Recent Grad's Architecture Job Interview

I guess for the many architecture students that did not get career counselling help, or a thesis juror offering a job, or a school offering them an internship placement - many architecture graduates say things that can turn off prospective employers. Here's some of the "Kisses of Death" you must avoid in Architecture Job Interview:

October 28, 2013

Applying for Architecture Internships

I am very honoured to announce our first guest post here at The Underdog Architecture Student's blog. Today's post is courtesy of Ryan Hansanuwat, an Architect and Vice President for an architecture firm in Texas and writer for Architecture Career Guide where he dispenses advice on how to become an Architect and what being an Architect is like.

October 23, 2013

Architecture School Shopping - Part 1

This week's entry is for those kids that were like me - high school students that are really eager to become Architects. Those people that had that dream about becoming Architects since they were little and are starting to research what school to apply to for college. So, for those students that are in their senior year in High School, this post is for you.

October 11, 2013

1 year later: Reflecting on Stress & Architecture School

It’s just over a year when I when I published my famous post on Mental Health and Architecture School which begun this blogs climb in page views and readers in the Architecture blogosphere. As Mental Health 
Awareness week ends in America, I wanted to reflect on the topic of stress and architecture school:

October 02, 2013

Resourcefulness is key

What is the most precious trait you acquire in Architecture School? After a year of graduating you realize two things the moment you work in an architecture firm:

September 24, 2013

Things I learned in Architecture School

It's September and I know I should be coming up with more posts as many students begin Architecture School. For me, September is just a reminder of how many years I have been away from school and counting down the years left until I intend to go back to academia to pursue my M.Arch. Here are some points on things I learned, but can be actually new post ideas for the future!

September 04, 2013

To my younger self...

September is here! This entry is timely for that person entering college or design school. These are some words of advice for that recent graduate still looking for work, or that person who wants to shake things up and try something new in their career. A year ago I was jobless and still hunting for work, I did not have a decent portfolio and I would get really frustrated and dissatisfied with how things were not going to schedule – I felt like my life was at a pause. It is not easy as a recent grad to get your first job and you have to just go through the test of time and truck through grunt work step by step to land a job or create one. For some it can be a few months to others close to a year or more.  

September 02, 2013

On your mark, get set, GO!

On your mark, get set, GO! Don't overlook the first week of school Architecture Students! You want to start off with your best foot forward and ready to tackle the work that's in store...

August 26, 2013

Architecture School is like an Obstacle Course.

Just over a year past graduating I have been working on my life-long battle against obesity and if anything that architecture school and university has taught me was to persist, persevere, and always be open to new things. And for the past few months I have been exercising to get myself fit and go for my first 6km obstacle race.

July 15, 2013

Talent & Capability - I think it can be honed.

With my previous controversial article on Good Grades does not (necessarily*) a Good Designer Make , I got some strong reactions: new facebook likes on my fan page and posts and even an architecture student sent his rebuttal to try and provide his views on why good grades do make good designers.

* ok, yes, I probably should have added "necessarily" to the title

In the end, I believe the argument really boils down to how does one view talent and capability. How passionate is one individual to pursue their interests if they are not as naturally talented as the next guy. Is being talented something that you are gifted at by birth and can run a life of great success once your realize  your capability and strengths? Is it your natural ability to just own it and succeed through school and life without failure and act like yous a boss? Are you talented by ultimately a gaining and honing skill that needs practice in order to strengthen your ability? I stick to the latter of the spectrum and believe that it is ultimately based on ones drive, passion, and commitment to be willing to grow and push their limits. It takes years to build an architect up with the vast amount of knowledge you have to acquire, apply and master. Does a curriculum define your own measure of personal and professional growth? for me, probably not. If anything it provides you the foundation to build your career. Ultimately, the most important question lies in where you will take your education and college experience beyond the studio and into the professional life that you want.

June 28, 2013

Summer Connections: Why it`s important #DesignStudents

Image: A beach networking event I attended by Cool Connections
This week's post is a submission to Project GYST (Get Your Sh!t Together!) hosted by Raeallan. This week's topic focuses on Summer Connections. I felt this topic could be applicable with the focus of my blog. I was that individual in architecture school that wanted to meet people outside of my field and make connections:

Summer is finally here and you are finally OUTSIDE of the dreaded architecture studios for the year. Now, I understand if you were not able to attend professional workshops and events during the school year but summer break is no excuse. How are you going to make the most of your summer break?

June 19, 2013

Good Grades does NOT a Good Designer Make

I have been waiting to write a post about this for a while. This post is for the architecture student that has struggled and perhaps had their setbacks. I hate to break it for the top dog design students, but A’s does not a great designer make. From attending workshops and talking to practitioners and even professors a great disconnect lies between what you have been learning and mastering in architecture school versus what happens in the real world and where you will go after graduation.

June 17, 2013

Make the most out of your Summer #ARCHISTUDENTS

Okay, so it has been quite a rough year for you. No longer will you have to spend really late nights in the architecture building. Actually chill with friends and loved ones who thought you were dead. Why sleep on a floor/cardboard/dirty drafting table if you can blissfully rest in your own bed, without the guilt! You don’t have to worry about excessive deadlines unless you are taking summer classes or doing a summer studio. It’s summer time and you should give yourself a pat on the back for trekking through a rough academic year of architecture school.

June 12, 2013

Renderings Part II: In the real world.

So, I might be biased by being primarily taught by the old "modernist" studio professors during my architectural education. My career in school with these professors made me feel  that renderings are not the deterministic factor to making it to the field. I was more interested in design process than seeing what I can do with photoshop – and yes there are consequences that I had to deal with swinging to the extreme for one approach in studio over the other. Eventually I had to realize that yes, renderings are crucial as a student, but if you want to be those architects that actually want to make money and make ideas become reality...spending hours on photoshopping and renderings does not an architect make...if anything, it is just one aspect of the many things we do.

June 10, 2013

Renderings Part I: Inside Academia

Last week I came across Arch Daily’s article, Are Renderings Bad for Architecture?That article brought up to issues concerning the allure of renderings and its truthfulness. It brought up issues surrounding questions on what should students learn in school.  Is seductive imagery a true measure of a good designer? Sure, digital renderings are important to market and sell our ideas to a client but to what extent do you have to be good at rendering as an architecture student? You'll need a base level to present your work in order to sell your presentations and portfolio.

June 05, 2013

A studio project is like a good greasy burger.

Last weekend, I went with a friend from architecture school to check out a Burger Festival in Toronto. It was Burger Day last Sunday at Toronto’s Artscape Wychwood Barns. Since it was architecture and food – I am all up for this any day! Wychwood Barns used to be a Streetcar repair facility just north of downtown Toronto and was recently converted to a beautiful community hub that by local design firm DTAH. Along the lines of the Underdog Architecture Student’s blog for wanting to make the analogous link between Architecture and the Culinary Arts, I have always wanted to talk about the burger in one of my posts. I just was not sure if I wanted to take a high school approach and apply the burger concept that we use in essays for the way you present your projects and convey the narrative of your design. I thought I would after seeing some design reviews that needed improvement (I have entries on them – click here and here) NO – now that I think about it, the design of a crafted burger is like a studio project. Both can teeter between falling face down to a pedestrian state or rise to a state of elegance and sophistication.

May 27, 2013

Reflections from the Post-Grad Job Hunt!

It’s been a year since I graduated and I know many architecture students have reached the day that kinda diminishes the intensity of late nights, all-nighters, among the other stressors you would normally expect as a student of architecture.  The job hunt after graduation is probably one of the most stressful experiences I have had and if it was not for my experiences of falling behind as a student I do not believe I would have been able cope as resiliently as I did. If failure did anything, it was an exercise and training in persistence. As a recurring theme in my blogs, true passion and persistence is a necessary trait in a highly competitive, extremely demanding and poor low-wage field like architecture.

May 14, 2013

Portfolios: Some advice from a recent grad (Part II - Momentum)

I would like to finish off this portfolio advice series with a less prescriptive outlook on how to get your collection of work off to interviews. We're hitting summer in North America and that moment of freedom from architecture school can put a lot of students behind in the job hunt. After years of toiling through the night in studio to just being free from school it is too easy to have fun and lose focus after school. The weather is nicer outside and it can be really tempting to slack off and chill and come September realize and you still have not found a job. 

May 09, 2013

Portfolios: Some advice from a recent grad (Part I)

Last weekend, I decided to attend a Portfolio Review event hosted by Architecture for Humanity Toronto. As someone who graduated just almost a year ago, applied to numerous firms, and landed only 3 interviews at the end of the day, I really wanted to get some feedback just to know what can I do to improve, and what am I doing wrong to not get 6 or even 9 interviews from applying to 70+ firms in the past few months. After receiving feedback, I guess I realized that it is rough job market for entry-level architecture jobs, even though things are picking up and I shouldn't be too hard on myself. From the event, I got to get my portfolio reviewed by a professor and professional with regards to M.Arch applications and on the basis of job hunting, respectively.

May 01, 2013

Lessons from Improvisational Theatre

As I continue to enjoy the moments of freedom after Architecture School, I want explore different things that is NOT architecture for sanity’s sake. I was stuck in architecture school for a pretty long time and there were things in my life and in college that I wanted to do. I wanted to explore my cultural identity, workout and try new things. Since my first year of University I have always been fascinated in the performing arts. I attended different plays from different playwrights and troupes in Toronto and I am fascinated how actors  are able to recreate world and immerse an audience into that story setting through crafted dialogue and acting. Whereas designers usually have to convey a story through the construction and manipulation of space and framing the circulation and experience to tell a story. Actors have to convey emotion, tone, mood in order to transport their audience into the world in which their characters live.  It’s that art of communication which transforms and engages, and I feel like architects and designers can learn a thing or two...because when it comes to communication I think it’s something all of us designers and students can learn from and apply to our careers.

April 23, 2013

Architecture Student Book Roundup: Graphical Representation Primer

So, after going through architecture school at one point in my life, I decided to provide a list of books that might help you in architecture school...particularly the freshman. Graphic representation and conventions need to be honed down and asap. Like a language you speak, you need to be fluent in how you convey your design intent and I've seen architecture students across all the years struggle in drawing conventions. This week, I'm gonna suggest these books for the freshman architecture student in terms of beefing up your graphical representation skills. These books cover a wide array from computer drawing, hand rendering, sketching, model making. Note, wait for the first day of class to figure out what books you need to buy and initially check these books out in the library first to gauge if you will need to keep referring to them, and decide to buy them.

April 17, 2013

Should I stay or should I go? - Part II

Last weekend I visited my friends who were presenting their studio projects at one of my prospective grad schools for M.Arch. I am  fortunate to have architecture school friends across Canada who are getting their M.Arch in besides my Alma Mater. It makes it easier background research for where I want to study and get a student perspective. Some of my classmates in undergrad have opted to study elsewhere for Masters. I have asked some of them, in the past few months, why they chose to shift gears for graduate school and I received a good response from a number of them. So In this entry, I will outline the pros and cons from my conversations with them.

April 16, 2013

Should I stay or should I go? - Part I

So in the past year, I have visited the top 3 schools on my M.Arch wish list. Two are in NYC, and one in Toronto. Just recently watched my two good friends present their comprehensive studio projects last weekend and has really given me some thought to consider when I should go for grad school, as well as where I want to study. I'm kinda wanting to not commit "University Incest", but there is also some benefit of studying in the same school you did your undergrad.

April 10, 2013

More to the world outside of Architecture.

I have usually described to friends and family that architecture school is pretty much the continuation of high school – in a sense that you would be exposed to a broad range of courses covering different subjects and exposing you to different schools of thinking. For instance, health science students would be focused more on courses like chemistry, psychology, and sociology. Business Students would be taking  courses from accounting to marketing. Engineers would focus on physics and calculus. As a holistic individual, I've always wanted to learn about different things and I felt architecture school gave me that mixed bag of subjects from humanities to sciences to the arts. After graduating, I'm interested in learning things outside of Architecture...for sanity's sake.

April 08, 2013

Architecture + Design Films I'm Excited For (2013)

In addition to my list of 2013 design documentaries i’m excited for besides REM by Thomas Koolhaas, I thought I would share some film trailers for design documentaries that I have came across recently. I’m not really just about the books, I think the art of documentary and film making dynamically  conveys layers of information and meaning effectively. This can compliment the lectures and readings given to the architecture student - keep things interesting. Documentaries centered to issues on Architecture and Design can help you open eyes to the field and keep you inspired and engaged.

March 26, 2013

Post Grad Phase: Stay Informed. Stay Engaged.

I feel that this post is valuable if you are currently studying architecture, and even for those that are taking a break between undergrad and graduate architecture school. As I apply for work and wait, it is always good to stay engaged with the profession and the culture of architecture – networking and talking to professionals. You want to keep current with the trends, the fads, the movements and issues surrounding architecture and the profession. For the past few months (and until I get back to grad school) I have been attending Movie Night series provided by the Toronto Society of Architects, the Bulthup Lecture Series at Daniels School of Architecture Landscape & Design to keep engaged with the architecture community and the latest trends. I think this is valuable time after graduation to reflect and really look deeper into the things that interested you in school. I take this as an opportunity to figure out what I would like to do for thesis and what aspects in the discourse of architecture inspires me.

March 14, 2013

The Art of the Design Review - PART II

So the tables have turned for me. I went back to my architecture school. Not as a student, but this time as a guest critic for interim studio presentations. It was a bit new to me, because this is the first time I have been asked to be part of the jury studio presentations.

March 11, 2013

Construction Site Visits

Walk around your city – you cannot help but notice the different buildings that are undergoing construction in different parts of town. It is easy to overlook these places, but for students of architecture and young professionals, it is a great way to see how construction is done and help you understands the technicalities of building construction – how are things put together seeing the dynamic relationship between structure, servicing, walls, floors, finishes. This is of utmost value for the student who is doing a comprehensive building design studio, or is working on permit drawings for a design firm. Perhaps my next point is on the fact that I have been doctrinated by a professors who practice architecture, pretty images and renderings are one thing, but at the end of the day we make money by getting something built for clients.

March 05, 2013

Move Forward: Tips on the (Architecture) Job Hunt

Sorry for the delay on blog post my fellow readers. For the past few weeks I've been pushing and working to look for work in the architecture world.

It’s that time of the year when many students are beginning to flood the mailboxes of architecture offices with resumes and portfolios. I have to say it’s a tough market out there, especially for a profession that is saturated. In North America, architecture schools have been cranking out many graduates into a field that is small. For those who live in urbanized areas, looking for an architecture job in a metropolitan city with more than one architecture school in the region means tougher job competition. How do you manage to get your foot in the door to becoming a Junior or Intern Architect?

February 14, 2013

Architecture Student Book Roundup: Building Technology Primer

Architecture school books tend to be more go-to references guides while you develop your designs - especially if you need a technical design response (eg comprehensive building design studio). You usually have to figure out the build-ability and technology and dimensions yourself - none of your courses will give you a thorough detail on dimensions of furniture, seating, or typical elevators, heating systems, sizing of your shafts and ducts - you have to find it out or get an approximate size or placeholder to continue progressing in your design. Whether it is structure, mechanical systems, electrical systems, building envelope - they are critical and should garnish your education in learning about how to design a building. Some of these are books that will guide you and even follow you after university (well Building Construction Illustrated and the Architect's Studio Companion - I know friends and colleagues have shown through Facebook post or people who are preparing for their licencing examinations).

February 05, 2013

Lunch Inside the Crystal

Last weekend I went to the c5 restaurant to meet up with my friends for a little fine dining during Winterlicious, Toronto’s restaurant week in February. The restaurant is located inside of Daniel Libeskind’s Michael Lee Chin Crystal at the Royal Ontario Museum. As an architecture enthusiast, along with my fellow classmates and guests from could we not go? And how could I not blog about my two loves of Cuisine and Architecture?  This had The Underdog Architecture Student’s Blog written all over it!

January 30, 2013

The Underdog Architecture Student`s Response: Save the Architecture Learning for Graduate School

I recently came across Aaron Betsky’s recent editorial on Architect Magazine, Save the Architecture Learning for Graduate School. In his article, Betsky argues that architectural education should begin at the graduate school level. I have to agree with the article because emerging design trends, like Public Interest Design, requires designers to be more aware and critical of the issues challenging society to respond thoughtfully. I favour the article, as a Canadian, due to the education requirements in becoming a licensed professional in Canada.

January 25, 2013


Sometimes it is better to head out to the cinemas as opposed to reading a book or listening to a lecture. A good movie that is educational and informative (for instance, a documentary) can enhance your architectural education. Sometimes, architecture students need a break from studio and a fresh way to learn more about the field.  I will be honest and must confess that this is quite difficult for students.  I understand the stresses and risks associated with deadlines and intensive course loads – time is money, and the stress can be overwhelming that a break is never an option.

January 21, 2013

Chopped vs. Charette: Culinary Arts and Architecture

There was an awesome restaurant I went to in NYC, called Fat Buddha,
and they had Chicken and (Red Velvet) Waffles
(Being the foodie that I am, I wish I can learn this...seriously)
Both Architecture and the Culinary Arts require a cohesion of technique and creativity, an understanding of theory and practicality, along with a passion and dedication to your discipline.

January 17, 2013

An Evening on Failure

Even after graduation, I have always been fascinated by the topic of Failure along with the stigma and emotional aspects surrounding it. After my experience of failing in architecture school (a crash and burn experience, to say the least), failure has been a subject that I have been interested in trying to make personal meaning with. So, being an architecture student that failed, where do I go? A few nights ago, I recently attended an event dedicated to the subject of Failure and looking at it in different perspectives.

January 14, 2013

Post-Grad Phase: Keep Busy & Persist!

"Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them!" – C.J. Walker

Sorry for the slow rate of posts my friends. It’s been busy for the past few weeks. From part-time drafting work, to doing a design competition, and getting on the grind with job applications for architecture and architecture-related fields – My time is occupied after graduation from architecture school. There have been late nights, all-nights, and busy times – it does not look pretty after graduation.

January 10, 2013

Be Fearless By Failing

We constantly make mistakes – it is part of what makes us human, and what makes life somewhat more interesting like a roller coaster ride as opposed to a gentle ferris wheel. Despite our best efforts when the odds are against us; when failure is inevitable; do we cower away and avoid? Or do we persist despite the odds.

January 03, 2013

WELCOME 2013! Time to expand!

As 2013 is here, I want to continue to expand my blog by being a story hunter and broadcaster. I want to expand this blog and hear from the architecture students currently in architecture school. There are so many of us that have experienced studio culture - the good and bad, and I would like to present a diverse and colourful story about studio culture with my blog. I want to hear those that are going through the studio experience and how they coped and improved and what did they learn. I wanna hear about those students that blog.