studying via arhitizer

Confessions of a Young Architect, Upon Taking the Licensing Exam

Clarify the number of feet (in metric inches) a setback can be set forward towards the street without a specific Setback Permit being required for a moving-of-building violation.=

Specify which type and what size of hose (potable/non-potable/beast) is required for installing a ground-up fountain detail in 1) a mansion of >5000 sf in Orange County, CA; 2) a mansion of >5,000 sf in Orange County, NY; 3) an apartment of <500 sf in Orange Township, NJ.

Say you are an architect-of-record for a large Lower Manhattan skyscraper, say >10,000sf of class A office space; outline in code-compliant detail the number of beam struts each T-bar rebar will require for each non-T-bar structural element. Show your work.

I am whole and beautiful; I am whole and beautiful; I am whole and beautiful…=


(To clarify: I have NOT showered in seven to ten business days; I’m pretty sure this tiger onesie has gone from like “aw, cute, she’s studying for the licensing exam in a tiger onesie!” to like girl what is that … thing… on your body!?)


I am whole and beautiful.

I am more than the licensing exam. I am not the licensing exam. The licensing exam is not me.

Imagine you have a client who wants a 3500sf house with no theoretical implications. Then imagine that your client is Peter Eisenman, and that your parents are the clients of House X. Describe your ethical responsibility as an architect, and your moral responsibility as a human.

“Put one hand on your heart, and one hand on your belly. Make sure that you’re comfortable. Inhale deeply; exhale, and release the stress of the day. Make sure that you’re comfortable.”

I fucking love this Scottish hypnotist app, but, real talk, trying to cobble together from his already-existing offerings like “reduce stress” and “boost health” and “stop worrying,” but do you think he/they/the company/is he a real dude/oh god/fuck/what if he’s not real/anyway would be amenable to a 25-min hypnotic meditation devoted to…. the architectural licensing exam?

You have one HVAC system and $40,000 remaining in your budget. Your project is a 5000-sf office space in downtown San Francisco, for a startup that is going to completely disrupt startup culture by innovatively scaling down and then reverse innovating a middle-out compression, and change the world. Do you spend that $40,000 on tricking out the 24-yo CTO’s Kohler vibrating bathtub (it’s where he does his best thinking, even at the office?) or on finishing the HVAC system. Either way, you will be fired.

When GOAT asked me if I wanted to really up my game and throw to the next level and turn this Kerri Strug broken-ankle frown into a Simone Biles floor routine (don’t ask me; he got real excited about the Olympics), I was like HE’S NOTICING ME HE’S NOTICING ME HE’S NOTICING ME. To be fair I’ve stopped wearing the panda pants (RIP) in favor of smart casuals from Michael Kors (going #basic #AF for the last half of 2016, do you feel me) and maybe the smart casuals are killing it? Actually now that I think of it his second and third and fourth and fifth and sixth in command (lol he calls them “equal creative integration partners”) have peaced out so it makes sense he’s going to the bottom of the intern barrel.

Make a good reason, any reason at all, for using a cliche in any correspondence or communication with your clients.

I swear this exam has gone from the page to some place deep inside my primal brain. It lives in the amygdala. Something something neuroplasticity. How did Jonah Lehrer get another book deal?

Remember that architecture is a praxis as well as being a practice. Define the distinction between both, and make a case for Jonah Lehrer now having enough money never to have to worry about taking a licensing exam for anything.

It’s like the writer Sarah Hagi said on Twitter. “God give me the confidence of a mediocre white dude.”

Do you think if I wore that on a t-shirt GOAT would a) laugh b) laugh c) throw me out?

This is bad. I’ve started thinking in terms of licensing exam questions. Everything’s getting narrowed down into a) b) or c) with sub-clauses and self references. Show your work.

I am whole and beautiful. I am whole and beautiful.

Why the fuck does my personal mantra include the reductionist viewpoint of “beauty.” I have read enough Kant and Larry Shiner to know that “Aesthetics” is a philosophically complex issue; that there’s no such thing as just “beautiful” architecture—even though, come ON, have you SEEN the Saarinen Kresge auditorium? (After all the windows popped out and fell on people, but let’s be real, 90% of new buildings pop out at least *one* building.)

Speaking of popping out, I’m 34 and haven’t had a kid yet. Should I freeze my eggs? Should I make embryos? Should I get my architectural license and start a mini-firm populated with nothing but my offspring?

Should I ask GOAT for his sperm?


Ethics section: you have been asked by a client to create a “normal-looking” suburban house on the outside and The Upside-Down on the inside. The client has offered you a 25% commission on top of construction costs, and you know you can stretch this out real nice. The client is more concerned with hiding The Upside-Down than issues of air filtration and reliable construction. What do you do?

Do you think Eleven is hiding?

Is Eleven in my meditation app?

Am I Eleven?

I feel like I haven’t spoken out loud in the office for long enough that that could be a legitimate query.

I am not the licensing exam. The licensing exam is not me.

All the world’s an HVAC.  And all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances (at least one egress per floor), and one intern in her time plays many parts.

Show your work.

Featured image via Architizer. 


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