It just doesn't matter

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    Ancil Hogsed

    Can you please explain how your research on the negatives is beneficial to this forum? The benefit of people who have taken and passed or failed the exams posting on this forum is providing candidates with many options to pass because people learn different ways. The AXP is an entirely different beast. I find this post discouraging at best. 

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    David Kaplan

    William,

    Look man I get it, and you're probably just venting here.  Understood.  But come on man, this post is not helpful, and deep down inside, you knew it wouldn't be.  You knew you would be getting the reactions like the one above (and several others still to come I'm sure).  So many people are on here trying to help others pass the ARE because to them, it DOES matter.  Getting their license DOES matter.  Many architecture firms, mine included, stress to all their interns that it DOES matter and we HAVE TO get our license.

    You're right - everyone's study methods and successes are all over the place, but why would it be any different?  Everyone is different, we all handle tests differently.  We all have different experience levels.  It's helpful to see different avenues.  Yes - at the end of the day, when we finally go and sit down for the test, it certainly does feel like "welp, here goes nothing" when you walk in there.  I felt that way on all my tests.  However, without question all the advice I got on here prepared me VERY well.

    If it truly doesn't matter to you, my advice to you is to get off the forum, hang it up, and just forget the ARE altogether.  It doesn't matter right?  What's the point of getting your license if it doesn't matter?  Just forget it - doesn't sound like it's worth it. 

    If you feel differently and still want to give it a go, and you have questions that are pertinent to the ARE, please post them and we'll be happy to help where we can. 

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    Scott Barber

    Hi William,

    I have to echo what's been said above, and wonder what your motives were behind this post? What exactly "doesn't matter"? Does getting licensed not matter? Does the money not matter? Does our school degree not matter? Does our work experience not matter? Does this forum not matter? Does the study material not matter? Does passing not matter? Does failing not matter? The list, confusion, and underlying pessimism goes on. 

    There are a lot of challenges transitioning from school to work and going the process of getting licensed. It's difficult, time-consuming, expensive, and it will never be a perfect process.  Everyone is different. Their thought processes, their ability to take a standardized test, their ability to think critically and process information, how they learn and retain information, etc. 

    I'm sure it's frustrating that after working for decades in this field, you have to go through this process to get licensed. I'm sure that you have much more knowledge and experience in some areas than some who are passing these exams, but going into it with the "it just doesn't matter" will make this process even more frustrating and is counterproductive. 

    I hope you can find people around you that you can have these conversations with. It's good to have a community where you can release your frustrations, have a beer (or sweet tea, which would be my preference), and come up with a plan together, encouraging each other through the ups and downs. This forum, while beneficial in many ways, isn't a great place to do that. I'd encourage you to seek out professionals around you who are going through this process and establish a new type of camaraderie that is developed through tackling these exams together. Even if most of those people are younger than you, I'm sure there are many ways you can learn from one another and stay focused in the midst of this challenging task. 

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    William May

    This is the point - this particular forum is a General Discussion.  My comments are Exactly what a general conversation is - it's my ability to vent.  This forum IS the place to have these conversations. 

    What doesn't matter is how we get through this test - Scott you totally missed the gist. 

    You folks think that I feel the process for me to get licensed is wrong - I don't.  It's not the process, it's the content. 

    This process has made dramatic changes in the last 4 decades.  And the changes wouldn't have happened if people, like me, didn't say -wait a minute, this needs to be changed.  Look at IDP compared to AXP - the program was 5,600 hours, it's now 3,740.  Why did that get changed?  Why slash 1,860 hours of training requirements - I personally think time should have been added but I know why time was slashed.

    It's interesting that you bring my age into the discussion.  When I respond to posts for work, I get 4 to 5 responses.  Firms look at the work I have produced and get excited - then, I send my resume - holy crap, this guy is old!  He started 40 years ago!

    But this forum is Exactly where I get to make my thoughts heard and where others who are wondering why this process is so fraught with content that architects shouldn't be doing.  Architects are not engineers.  There shouldn't be pond or lighting or structural questions.  Architects rely on civil, mep and structural engineers for that material.  Architecture is a Fine Art, not an engineering discipline.  Architects are facilitators.  The ARE process is good, the content of the test isn't.

    But this forum IS the place for my comments just as it is the place for any comments that don't agree with me. 

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    Scott Barber

    Fair enough - I guess I envisioned the "General Discussion" section to be topics that didn't fit into the other categories but were still focused on taking and passing the exams. To me this post didn't contribute to that, but was rather a way to express your emotional response to this process. But there are certainly different ways people use this forum, I just would use a more formal medium to communicate my frustrations to NCARB. 

    I'll admit I did totally miss it. I didn't think your post was very clear - hence me asking "what doesn't matter?"  In your original post you said "it just doesn't matter" multiple times and never finished the sentence, and the various sentences that phrase was used in didn't clearly communicate the premise. Thank you for clarifying. 

    I only mentioned your age in response to you mentioning it. I was recognizing your extensive experience, not judging or looking down on you in anyway, but quite the opposite. I apologize if it was received that way. 

     

    I do actually disagree with you in regards to the content. Yes, we are not engineers, but we need to be able to have intelligent conversations about their work and have a general idea of what they're doing. We bear the responsibility of our consultant's work, and therefore need to be informed about what they're doing and why. None of these exams are asking us to perform the calculations to a level of detail that would qualify us as licensed engineers.
    We need to have a decent understanding of the various building systems and how to design them well so that a building will perform efficiently. Knowing how to orient a building around a pond should absolutely be in our skill set. Having an understanding of lighting will allow us to use passive design strategies to save energy and intelligently lay out the lighting system. 

    Architects are generalists - we need to have an understanding of many different concepts in order to design a building that functions and is more than a "fine art." Going to avoid going further into the rabbit trail of art and architecture :) 

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    William May

    Architects do not and should not be designing building systems - that's an engineers job.

    I've been around engineers in the last 40 years - they don't care what architects think.

    Architects do bear the responsibility of our consultants work but that's because the architect is the point of contact in a law suit.

    About 7 years ago a maintenance worker was ordered to go up on the roof of a building during a rainstorm to close a smoke door that inadvertently opened.  There was no safety railing around the opening.  The worker did not have safety harness or any other safety equipment.  He fell to his death.

    The architect was sued by the family.  The architect then joined the engineering firm in the suit.  Long story short, the architectural firm and the engineering firm both settled out of court.  Those two firms are still in business.

    The point is that the architect (firm) didn't protect the health, safety and welfare of the public.  The architect was distracted from doing what they should have been doing.

    Architect don't need to know ponds or lighting placements or btu's.  I agree that architects should know where to orient a building but not design the pond.  Architects don't need to know lighting or lay out lighting systems - that's for engineers.

    Architects are not engineers nor should architects be responsible for knowing what consultants know.  That's not the role of the architect.  Having 10 semesters with 3 being general math, science and liberal arts is a broad base but definitely not to the level of knowing how to design building systems or civil or structural systems.

     

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    You are quite confused about roles and responsibilities.  I get the distinct feeling that your experience is long and very narrowly focused.

     

     

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    William May

    A few years ago my uncle went to his family doctor because his knee was hurting.  The family doctor checked him out and suggested he see an orthopedic specialist.  Long story short my uncle developed an infection.  My uncle sued.  It was determined that in fact the orthopedic specialist who did the surgery didn't follow established protocol and was found negligent.

    But, the family doctor was not sued as part of the issue.

    Engineers are specialists, much like the orthopedic surgeon.  Architects are the generalists, much like the family doctor.

    Now, you may not like my comments, so, walk away or engage me.  But to tell me that my comments shouldn't be here is wrong.  This is a General Discussion Forum.  Open to all to discuss what is on their minds that relate to this process and profession.

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    Ancil Hogsed

    I can list many, many, design opportunities missed if we left lighting to engineers. Lighting can truly make or break a space.


     

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    William May

    Confused & very narrowly focused?  Hardly. I've had 41 years of practice and observation.  I don't drink the kool-aide from the punch bowl.

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    William May

    It's too bad many of the engineers I know aren't reading this, they may disagree with you hehehe.  Heck, we all know that engineers are just knuckledraggers while it's the architects that know it all.  Too funny.  Thanks, I needed a good chuckle.

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    Ancil Hogsed

    Say you were designing a low-country house and your engineer put exposed duct work in the living room. You didn't want an industrial or modern design. But you left it to the engineer... 

     

     

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    "Confused & very narrowly focused?  Hardly. I've had 41 years of practice and observation.  I don't drink the kool-aide from the punch bowl."

    So you keep saying.  It's possible that you are representing yourself poorly, but your commentary does not reflect broad-based experience.

    Yours would not be the first cautionary tale in which an overly-confident candidate rides a high horse to an ARE smack-down.

     

        

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    You are also mistaken in thinking that you are somehow uniquely plugged into how the real world works, while the others on the forum -- much to your knowledgeable amusement -- just don't seem to get it.  

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    William May

    Again, you miss the mark.

    I'm not overly confident - I'm now scared crapless.  I run a small business.  I do roughly 30 to 50 residential projects a year.  I do new homes, home additions and other structures like pool houses, barns, garages. 

    And again, I don't need to know anything about designing an hvac system but I can say to the engineer - is it possible to bury the ductwork in the walls or open web floor truss system?

    I'm Not uniquely plugged in, I'm just the only one speaking my thoughts without fear of ridicule. 

    "Leaving" design of aesthetics to an engineer is not the same as doing calculations of lumens or lighting placement required to meet some code requirement or special criteria for the space.

    About 2 years ago I was working with an architect converting an old school building into office space.  The lighting was 2x4 troffers.  We discussed the spaces with the client/building owner who asked about what could be provided.  We identified the space use and worked with a lighting engineer to provide aesthetically pleasing fixtures.  But the architect did no calculations for placement or lumens - simply what can lights or dome or pendent light the owner wanted to use.

    I'm not riding a high horse - quite the contrary.  I'm saying that for the last 40 years having worked with nearly 30 different architects, the architects were the orchestrators and conductors, not the instrumentalists.  

    I've worked with architects who took a building to a firm to act as Architect in charge in a Joint Venture.  Architect "A" went to Firm "B" with project in hand.  I did the building renderings, plans, elevations and space renderings for my employer, Architect "A".  Architect "A" then met with Firm "B" to tackle hiring the engineering consultants and to provide suggestions to Architect "A".  But, Architect "A" was the only contact with the owner.

    Architect "A" didn't do any calculations.  Firm "B" didn't do any either - I had the opportunity to go to the firm to work with the inhouse architects and designers.  But none of the architects did any MEP calculations.  I actually asked a number of the architects if they even did any calcs.  They all laughed.  "Our liability coverage dosen't include engineering - we're architects."

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    Ancil Hogsed

    I work on alot of residential as well. I can't count the number of RCP's and electrical plans I design. 

    Architects don't need to know lighting or lay out lighting systems - that's for engineers.  to...  the architects were the orchestrators and conductors, not the instrumentalists.    Nice recovery!

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    Scott Barber

    William, let me step back for a moment, maybe this will alleviate some of your fear you noted above:

    There are very few questions on these exams that require any type of in-depth calculation. From my memory, across the three exams I've taken (PA, PPD, and PDD), which are the only ones (I expect) that would have calculations related to building systems, I would estimate that there were less than 10 questions total that would potentially land outside an architect's responsibility in the "real world."  I obviously can't reveal anything I saw on the exam to give specifics, but the calculations I had were extremely basic and not to the level of details that engineers need to do.  These exams are not testing your ability to be an engineer - it's testing your ability to understand basics of building systems and apply that knowledge to given situations.

    We can discuss the roles, responsibilities, and liabilities all day long, but as architects we need to have a basic level of understanding of all these things. And in my experience the ARE exams align with that level of detail. 

     

    As a side note, I'm glad you've had such great experiences with engineers. Unfortunately my firm struggles to find qualified, responsible engineering firms to work with on a regular basis in our fairly large market. In a previous project I had to send a detail to our structural engineer showing how to add a steel column on a wide flange so we could add some amenity space to the roof. Two emails, a phone call, and a schematic sketch were not enough for him to understand the context. And it was basic enough that I, as an intern architect with only a master's degree and less than a year of full-time experience, was able to competently detail and tell him how to do it. 

    We did just find a new structural firm (two states away) that we started working on for a new project, and they seem to know what they're doing so far. They knew the implications of our type V building changing to type III in terms of structural members and their fire rating, something we've had to tell other engineers about on multiple projects. But for the most part, we have to check our engineers work on several rudimentary levels to make sure we're not going to get sued. 

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    William May

    Finally, you and maybe others, get my concern and meaning.

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Really no idea what point your attempting to make via your straw man arguments and anecdotes.  

    But, as for this:

    I do roughly 30 to 50 residential projects a year. I do new homes, home additions and other structures like pool houses, barns, garages. 

     

    Of course, there is nothing wrong with this as far as it goes. Houses are great projects.  (Although I'm concerned what a house design done in a week or two is all about???).  But -- and this is an important point -- you are going to have to come to terms with the fact that your experience represents a very narrow bandwidth of experience.  You have a lot of years, but very little project type variety.  This is obvious in your posts -- your comments reflect your lack of broad experience.

    You'll find a wide spectrum of candidates on this forum who know far more about architecture than you.  Most are ready to help out a fellow candidate.  You could take advantage of this, or stay on your current course.

    I'm busting your chops, but your touted perceptions are not reality.  

     

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    William May

    Placing some lights in a building is aesthetics.  Wall mounts, ceiling mounts, pendents, are all the look we are trying to achieve.  White lights, ambers, blues, oranges, peach are more aesthetics.  But me checking lumens, not gonna happen, nor should it. 

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    ^ So, you'll just skip those questions on the exam?

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    Scott Barber

    I'll be honest - that consideration was nowhere near my mind when reading your initial post. Even as the conversation progressed it wasn't until you said you were scared crapless that I realized you may have been concerned about what would be on the exam rather than venting about the process of having to take the exams. Due to posts and comments I've seen from others recently, that's what this post reminded me of. 

    These are the types of questions that this forum can really be helpful for. I have already admitted that the use of the 'general discussion' page is broader than my perspective, but I didn't see your initial post as anything but frustration and venting, and didn't consider there could be any actual question hidden in there. I'll try not to make these types of assumptions moving forward to avoid the confusion in these conversations. I would also hope that you could be a little more direct in your questions, if that was the purpose of your initial post. 

    I would also say that the ARE Handbook does a good job demonstrating the types of questions that will be on the exam and the content we need to understand. I'd encourage you to spend a good amount of time becoming familiar with that to help you understand what we're being tested on and how we'll be tested on it. If you have a specific concern about something that's in the handbook, you can always return here and ask the community and those who have taken that exam may be able to provide a better understanding or broader context.

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    David Kaplan

    Scott's point about the number of "engineering calculations" on the actual tests is good and something to keep in mind.  I also shared your frustration on "why the heck do I need to be able to do this on these tests????"  It is annoying - I get it.  I can tell you that, having done both 4.0 and 5.0 tests, that 4.0 used to be way worse in this respect and I think the 5.0 tests have done a much better job of watering it down some.  Still - those questions are a pain and feel more like an initiation ritual than a true test of our knowledge/competency to become an architect.

    I too only had about 10, actually probably less than 10, total questions across three 5.0 tests that required calculations that no question about are outside the realm of what I do every day here.  They weren't too difficult and didn't require memorization.  For the most part, I was given the equation and also given values w, x, y and was told to solve for z.  Solving for z was as simple as plugging w, x, and y into the equation given, making sure the units were correct, and then doing math.  Hopefully you'll have this same experience as well when you test.

    And I'll admit - I didn't realize this was posted in the "General Discussion" category.  Fair enough, sir. 

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    William May

    Wait, you're busting on me and didn't realize the post was in the General Discussion?!

    REALLY?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    William May

    LOL, thanks David.  I really do appreciate the comments.  I enjoy the banter.

    I work in a home office.  I don't have employees or principals to deal with.  I not only do design and production and renderings.  I also operate heavy equipment.




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    William May

    Thanks Scott!  I appreciate the comments.

    I have experience.  I don't have a degree other than my associates.  What I read is disheartening because it seems that 99.9% of the people on these forums have a degree and they Still are having trouble passing these tests.

    Many are saying that they have 10 years in firms, and they too are taking divisions 2 and 3 times over.

    If a 5 year degree and 10 years of experience isn't helping folks to pass the ARE, yikes, what's wrong with this picture?

    Here is one example of what I have done.

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    William May

    And another

     

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    William May

    and another

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    Scott Barber

    William, unfortunately some people just struggle with standardized tests or their experience doesn't align with the exam they're studying for. There are a lot of factors but the 5.0 exams are much more aligned with the "real world" than 4.0, from what I've heard. A good friend of mine passed PDD without studying at all (and passed PPD with a weekend of studying), after working in construction for about 15 years and then getting his masters degree. His experience, though it wasn't in an architecture office, was what got him through those exams. But I know this isn't the case for everyone, and don't have the knowledge to accurately describe or understand all the factors that are at play for each person.

    What I always heard is that schools teach you to design and work teaches you to how to actually practice architecture. There are skills learned in school that help us in the real world, but there is a distinct shift between the two. Right or wrong, that's what it's become. Either way, I don't think a school could adequately prepare someone for practicing architecture without keeping students there for a long time...there's a lifetime of learning in architecture, one of the things I enjoy most about it. Hopefully schools set the foundation that can be built on when entering the professional world, but each school is different and places emphasis on different areas within the curriculum. 

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    William May

    I have experience with medical, corporate, hospitality, retail, educational, industrial & multi-family for the short list.

    I do schematic, design development, CD's, CA & CM.

    I do a lot as needed.  I'm not bragging, just pointing out what I have done and what I can do.

    I do think that it's important to have a test.  I think the process is a bit off the mark and the content is skewed. 

    I appreciate the opportunity to discuss specific issues in the specific forums.

    I can talk with consultants with systems but don't do their jobs.  And they don't do mine.

     

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