What’s Your Major?: Architecture

It’s just past midnight on a Thursday. The Architecture Annex, a warehouse-esque building reminiscent of one from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” holds several architecture students, or “Archies,” as they work on a furious studio grind. They spend countless hours in the studio as they draw and redraw circles and rhombuses until inspiration strikes.

Architecture has one of the highest unemployment rates of any major, with a recent college graduate unemployment rate of 12.8 percent, according to a 2013 study by Georgetown University.

Despite this, University graduates enter a field of qualified professionals every year, many of whom compete with each other for the few jobs that are available. Here at the University, a rigorous curriculum prepares students for this, according to Carl Lewis, academic adviser in the architecture department.

“The curriculum is difficult to get through. Where that pays off is that at the end of the day … our students are going to be really well received in the profession,” Lewis said.

Students take classes with four different focuses: design, structures, architecture history and construction technology. According to Lewis, “this school gives some of the most amount of hours, or immerses the student in all of these focuses.”

In addition to attending classes, Archies also must make time for studio, which Lewis said “is all about taking your knowledge and applying it toward an architectural solution.”

“The University says that for an hour of credit, there are so many hours of outside work that you do,” he said. “In architecture, because it is so demanding, because you have to try and try and redevelop … what I tell the students is to use it as an office. You’re going to spend a lot of time there … If you use it as your office, the time management becomes a lot easier.”

Jordan Tripp, graduate student in Architecture, said his professor prefers his students to work about 15 hours total outside of class.

“He tries to treat it like a business, working your 40 hours a week,” Tripp said. “We a lot of times have fun in our work, model building … that’s kind of a stress reliever, we come in and build models.”

Chris Isenhower, sophomore in Fine and Applied Arts, also finds way to pass hours in the studio, but in a different way. He said he listens to music a lot of the time. On more exciting nights, he said, Archies find entertainment in other ways.

“There was a bat in here one night, flew through a window. Everyone was screaming,” he said.

Despite the heavy work that his major brings, Tripp said he wouldn’t think of doing anything different with his life.

“For me, I like balance, I have a scientific side, my background is engineering, and I have a sort of artistic side … Combining science and art together is very satisfying,” he said. “Also, having the opportunity to shape the built environment is really encouraging … knowing you can have an impact like that.”

Vivian Yi, a junior majoring in Architecture also believes the long hours will pay off in the end.

“I like doing what I love … I’d rather do something that I love and work hard toward it rather than doing something that I don’t like and not be passionate about it,” she said.

Eliseo can be reached at [email protected]