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Professional Practice
 
Empowering young professionals
Young professionals; architects, planners, and designers are facing difficulties, challenges, and obstacles in the beginning of their careers:

- Are they given enough opportunities to shape the environment?
- Are they given enough opportunities to shape the future of the profession?
- Have the professional organizations provided the support base for them to pursue their careers?

Although these issues are global in nature, the case in many of the developing countries is that young professionals are not allowed to be in the scene! are not given any support from professional organizations in terms of career paths and direction! are not supported enough by the older, experienced professionals. In many cases they are seen as labor and labor only.
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The following discussion started in the APA-Architectural Pedagogy and Andragogy Workspace. Due to the importance of the subject the group sees that it is necessary to move this discussion topic to Archnet public forum so that more members of young architects, planners, designers are engaged in a discussion the is concerned with their future and career
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Quoted from Suzanna Wight article in Archvoices:

Suzanna Wight is the immediate past Chair of the AIA National Associates Committee and the Associate Representative on the 2002 AIA Board.

"This profession is a traditionally OLD profession. So, being an intern is a difficult task. It is hard to get ahead, and it sometimes feels impossible to get recognized for excellence. The Experience Game; is one you feel you won't be able to play for years. I submit that today's young professionals--students and interns--have the opportunity to change the face of the profession, both in practice and in composition. The future is now."

Now, the question would be
HOW TO EMPOWER YOUNG PROFESSIONALS AND RECENT GRADUATES??

Suzanna proposed four points that she believes will help any one person or any group toward leadership and direction. These are:

- Be goal oriented
- Recognize your strengths and weaknesses
- Be part of a Network of people who share the same interests or career goals.
- Pick your battles and focus on what interests you, do not spend your time in issues that are not related to your direct interests.

Although some people might see these points as "known values" and that we do not need to talk about them and say "this is obvious", they are forgotten; young graduates can be easily distracted by the lack of focus, direction, support or if they have a wide variety of interests.

The above points need serious discussion, especially where many graduates of architecture in the developing world have not been trained to think about their future or to make career decisions. Also, many senior students have no clue what they are going to do when they graduate!

Ashraf Salama, September 3, 2003
Ashraf Salama
Responses
 
Empowering young professionals
Hi there,

I think in order to answer the question:
"HOW TO EMPOWER YOUNG PROFESSIONALS AND RECENT GRADUATES??"

I think the answer involves, a lot of the ideas presented in the Aga Khan Award for Architecture Literature that has been published for the past 2-3 decades. I found the insights from these group of scholars extremely progressive and democratic. I will include a few citations below that I think are relevant:

1. I think one idea is to get students in architecture particiapting in real-world projets which have real implications. As Soedjatmoko, (1994) writes, ����Except in a few cases, he will have to think totally of the human environment within the resource constraints prevailing in low-income countries which suffered from the impact of high energy costs��his architectural response to the needs of the housing of poor will have to adapt to the growing realization that poverty cannot be overcome merely by the provision of services and assistance to the poor and socially weak. This can only be accomplished with their active and voluntary participation, utilizing the means provided by them, as well as by the enhancement of their social effectiveness through self-organization and self-management�� (pg. 90).
Soedjatmoko. (1994). ��The Social Challenge to Modern Islamic Architecture�� in Nanji, A. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture: Building for Tomorrow. Academy Editions. New York: USA.

2. I think another idea is to involve students in reflecting of their educational process (as the students from Misr University have been doing for this online course) because their input as users and recipients of the current educational system is relevant for the success of future design initiatives. As a leading authority argues, "The viewpoints of the school teacher and student are not the same. In other words, a peculiarity of public buildings of whatever variety is that at least two different positions, two different attitudes, two different uses and likes or dislikes of buildings always exist" (Grabar, 1980, 133).
Grabar, O. (1980). Issues Raised, Issues Omitted in Places of Public Gathering in Islam. Proceedings of Seminar Five in the series. Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Architectural Transformations in the Islamic World Held in Amman, Jordan, May 4-7, 1980.


4. I think an idea that has come out already int he discussions and readings is the change in the architects training and role in the collaborative design process whereby a leading authority argues, "I am convinced that architects and designers have much larger roles to play in the communities and societies of the future than they do today. He must be the agent who inculcates an attitude to live with others, rather than simply consolidating, only the attitude to live..... His designs must have a place for everybody, and must offer everyone a participatory role in the process of building the total environment�� (Doshi, 1980, 137).
Doshi, B.V. (1980). Toward an Appropriate Living Environment: Questions on Islamic Development in Places of Public Gathering in Islam. Proceedings of Seminar Five in the series. Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Architectural Transformations in the Islamic World Held in Amman, Jordan, May 4-7, 1980.

5. I think another idea that is relevant, and a student in this discussion forum mentioned it by giving his experience in designing a restaurant versus fictional cases, is the idea of engaging in real architectural design projects where form and function are not the goal, but meeting the needs of the users is. As one leading authority argues, ��I hope that the architects are much wiser than the economists, and that they do not get lost in form and design and forget to put people and their needs and aspirations at the center of their creations��.We must pause and ask ourselves whether we are getting too preoccupied with buildings, too little with people; too much with form, too little with substance; too much with physical realities, too little with socio economic objectives��the presentation of educational building models mentioned the very educational objectives they were suppose to serve�� (ul Haq, 1980, 128).
Ul Haq, M. (1980). Priorities: The Social Context of Public Buildings, Islamic Architecture and the Poor People of Islam in Places of Public Gathering in Islam. Proceedings of Seminar Five in the series. Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Architectural Transformations in the Islamic World Held in Amman, Jordan, May 4-7, 1980.

Zahra Punja, September 22, 2003
Ashraf Salama
Empowering young professionals
Dear Ashraf,

I feel we need to start a separate group for discussing the issues related to young professionals. We can continue to debate the questions related to further training / education of young professionals in APA group. The professional issues should be discussed separately. This change may draw a more focused effort by those who may be interested in the issue. I envisage some young architects may like to join this group.

with warm regards,

Akhtar Chauhan, November 12, 2003
Ashraf Salama
Empowering young professionals
Interresting topic,

I let you know that in France, the ministry of culture organise every year a national contest for young architectes. a few " laureat" are chosen and get to be knowned thought projets or invitation to answer competition by a group of companies . thoses companies aggreed to participate at a group of "helpers" under authority of the ministry of culture. My company, " Autoroute du sud de la France" ( biggest highway company in France ), participates to the action, and as The indoor architecte of this company, I'm invited in various jury to make choise of architectes or initiatives to promote young architects.

for exemple, we have invited two young architects winners of the ministry contest to participate at two contest for tool road construction.

i hope you will be interrested by the initiative !

good luck,
hervé pierre mauclère
architect ASF

Hervé- Pierre Mauclère, November 12, 2003
Ashraf Salama
Empowering young professionals
Dear Ashraf,

Thanks for opening this important topic to the open discussion forum. I am sure many young architects would like to contribute on the issues. Some of these are as under:

1. The first issue relates to employment of young architects in studios of practicing architects.

a.Generally there is always this complaint about the inadequacy of thier education.
b. The young architects are used for draughting purposes rather than design.
c. The young architects have to be satisfied with meagre salaries after 5 years of education and training to be professionals.

2. The second issue relates to young architects who start their practices.

a. These architects have to compete with much senior persons in the profession. How do they prove their worth? What are the ways through which they can make their presence felt?
b. The professional codes prohibit them from lowering their fees, while clients wish to pay them less or sometimes even nothing saying that they have given them valuable experience!

3. Third issue relates to the ways to encourage young architects.

a. There are very few design competitions and fewer competitions exclusively for the young architects.
b. There are a few awards and fewer awards for the young architects.
c. The professional bodies hardly make an effort to exhibit the work of young architects at special exhibitions.
d. There are no special programmes for the young architects in public sector.

4. The fourth issue relates to continuing education and research opportunites for further education.

a. There are very few colleges and institutions in Third World countries offering post-graduate and doctoral studies. The 5 year long educational programme exhaust their enegies and
financially tax their families heavily.
b. In absence of well developed educational infrastructure, some young architects prefer to go abroad for their post-graduate studies.
c. There are fewer opportunites for undertaking research in Third World Countries, where young architects can engage with the issues that interest them.
d. There are hardly any continuing education programmes for the young architects who are employed.

5. The Fifth issue relates to their role in national and community building.

a. The young architects are full of energy and ideas, which need to harnessed for national and community building as an alternative to commercial practices.
b. This requires a network of institutions and organisations involved with community development projects with adequate fundings and support from Govt and Industry. . e.g. Barefoot architects in Tilonia, Architectural workshops in Auroville in Pondichery, India.
c. Young architects can also be trained in education, research and communication fields under special programmes for their further development.

I am sure there are many more issues and problems, and there must be many more ideas about how to empower the young professionals. It would be interesting to discuss these issues in this forum.

with best wishes,
Akhtar Chauhan
Empowering young professionals
This forum has been initiated for young professionals, recent graduates, and students to express their concerns and voice their opinions about the challenges facing them in their countries, their careers, and their expectations about the future of the profession. This is an invitation for them to speak up and to start to articulate their ideas and thoughts about their future.
Ashraf Salama
Empowering young professionals
the topic is really being discussed very seriously at my place.
there are three ways students, as young professionals pursue their ways in professions after passing out from the college:
1. get absorbed in some multinational software company as software engineer/marketting executives
or join a construction company through campus placements
2. shift to some other design fields viz. animation, graphics, etc.
and
3. join some architectural firms.
paradoxically the third option is the least respected, generally
unfortunately enough, it has been observed that some of the very potential and promising designers also have shifted their profession from architecture to something else. we find it unfortunate because the government spends lots of resources on the education of these studentsfor their specific specialisation that they desert.
perhaps lack of opprtunity offered and salary paid by the architectural firms is not upto the level.

actually our faculty is conducting a worldwide survey on the trends the indian architectural graduates follow after getting the undergraduate degree.
i m also a part of it as a student member.
hope, i will be able to give you some good informations after the survey is over and analysed.
regards.
P Das
Empowering young professionals
dear panelists!
i can assure that what i feel is the common feeling among the students of architecture studying in schools/colleges similar to mine:
to get admission into the college, we have to undergo rigorous labor and real hard work. after competing in one of the toughest competition of the nation, we opt to take admission in the B.Arch. courses either by choice or by compulsion, while some other almost similar friends, mostly out of the available opportunies (and of course not because of their specific passion)opt for other branches of engineering...lots of us quit the opportunity of getting some so-called better engineering branches in some not-so-reputed colleges. five years of more rigorous course, we pass with full devotion and passion for architecture. before even we competlete the course of five uears, our friends in other branches are over with it...and most of them with good jobs and handsome salary package offered through campus placement...whereas,we architecture students, who are more devoted to studying the hardcore subject than students of other branches are mostly sans such opportunities...if we opt to remain in architecture.
while other friends are enjoying their salary in some company...all devoting less labor in studies, we students have to struggle for social and career survival.
there are very very few architectural firms that pour in our campus for placement with decent salary package.
who, our senior architects think are the culprit for such a pathetic situation of young architects?...the professionals who fail to pay young architects the justified salary...or the students themselves for choosing this branch?
shall we ever be able to come out of the brutal attitude adopted by the established professionals?
or is it that the cruel tradition is just being carried forward by the practising architects?
P Das
Empowering young professionals
Thanx Parshant and Akhter Chohan
For adding to the suggestion given by the intellectuals these might be words for so many readers but for the students who have just finished like me its a guideline to follow.
I have just finished my graduation(secured second position) in which i have already learned and practiced Autocad specially architectural desktop now i have joined Arena multimedia for learning studio max which is pacing very fast i have planned to come Karachi after the completion of this course in feb i need help and suggestion that how can i find a place in a good architectural firm as infact i know nothing about the architectural firms in khi.
My querry is infact direct to Uzair and Hammad who might be knowing more about this being citizens of Karachi.
Huma
Huma Qureshi
Empowering young professionals
Friends,

This afternoon I attended an inspiring lecture by architect Tadao Ando. He was delivering his talk at the Design Sutra international congress of the International Federation of Interior Designers in Mumbai.

Ando is a self-taught architect. He studied architecture through travelling, reading and reflecting. He kept on working on concepts and designs when he had hardly any work. He visalized alternative models and types for the cities of Tokyo and Osaka. These ideas for gardens in the air and public facilities in the high-rise buildings were not appreciated by any authorities.

However, he kept his faith in himself and his approach. He took up smaller projects and he never had to look back. He developed a distictive approach to architectural design called minimalism.

He repeatedly suggested that an architect must work in environmental and societal context and not in isolation. He illustrated the premise through his work. He showed how his studio became a universe for thinking with books all round the place.

He concluded by saying that he hoped that the younger generation of architects would show the same passion and commitment to architecture and design.

He spoke in Japanese, his mother tongue, with the help of a translator.
He said he never had to learn English because he did not have to go to the University!


May be there are younger architects listening to his words!

with best wishes,
Akhtar Chauhan
Empowering young professionals
Dear Dr. Ashraf,

Thank you for posting an extremely relevant question. This topic needs to be addressed and discussed at length.

Professor Akhtar, I was wondering if I fall into the category of 'young' architects, so that I should know whether to use 'we' or 'they' when referring to young architects. In Pakistan, I was sort of transitioning from being young to being youngish/middlish but in Japan, archcitects in their late forties and early fifties are referred to as young!! and they probably consider someone my age as still learning to write ABC. (or maybe even not long out of pampers!)

So for the sake of this argument, I will associate myself with the young! I believe you are 56 (1947?), I wonder how old are Dr. Ashraf and Shiraz and other participants of this debate? (just wondering!) I hope its not impolite to ask the age of a person in a public forum. As long as one doesnt ask their take-home salary!!

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Empowering young professionals
Dear Hammad,

From your thought provoking questions, I can safely say that you are young at heart and in mind. Now that is a compliment, and not criticism. This is to ensure that I am not misunderstood!

Yesteray,I had a first hand taste of youthfulness of the Japanese youth, in Tadao Ando. He showed his dog named Le Corb, and all other humourous stories behind his incredibly creative architecture of minimalism. He started by citing his example when he prepared some sketches to illustrate his ideas about improving Osaka which were rejected by the City Council. He improved and developed these ideas further and he was not even allowed to talk to the City Council! He appealed to the young architects to have faith in their quest and follow that in spite of all the difficulties. He then presented his work in the context of Japanes urbanisation and industrialisation, spirituality, society and environment.

He concluded his presentation with a call to the youth to create architecture with passion and commitment, humbleness and sensitivity to the context of society and environment. Well, I could see Islamic Architectural principles in his architecture, without domes and arches, as well. He received a standing ovation at the concluding session of Design Sutra, the IFI International Design Congress held in Mumbai.


with warm regards
Akhtar Chauhan
Empowering young professionals
Dear Hammad and Akhtar;

There was an academy of architecture in Bulgaria that used to organize competitions for young architects, also many research organizations precede their conferences with events for young researchers and ph.d. scholars. Most of the organizations consider that a young professional is a person whose age is less than 35 years old. As for my age, I will leave it to the curiosity of the members, but will let you know in private !!...smiles ;)

I believe the discussion is intended for senior students, and those who have graduated and trying to find their way in the world of profession. The issues that Parshant and Huma raised are crucial and deserve attention, I am listing below a number of questions that help stimulate debate. By default, our concern here is centered more on the developing world, since in many parts of the developed world the problems and solutions we are trying to discuss here are already discussed heavily. Archvoices, a forum of intern architects and recent graduates focuses on the hopes, aspirations, problems of young professional architects in the US ARCHVOICES This is just an example.

- How professional organizations offer help and support to students who are about to graduate and to recent graduates?
- Do they help them find jobs, do they organize seminars on potential markets, or even general information on pursuing careers in architecture?
- Do they provide any mechanisms for them to voice their opinions and to be regarded as an integral component of the profession?
- Do they organize continuing education programs?
- Do they really know about how young graduates view the profession?
- Do they understand the reasons of why young graduates change their careers in architecture?
- .................?
- .........................?

There are many issues that need to discussed frankly and explicitly? Not just for the sake of the discussion.

Then, relating the issue of empowering young professionals to roles schools of architectre could and should play is another sub-subject for the discussion that needs to be addressed. and this might lead to the role of "Alumni Associations" if they exist!

An example that clearly illustrates the problem is in Egypt where the professional organization forgot completely about professional issues, and immersed itself in social issues, organizing trips to summer resorts for families of architects/engineers. They also play the role of a developer and design and build housing projects for professionals, they organize pilgrimage trips too, and have health care programs for members and their families? The issue of young architects does not exist at all, since the issue of "old" architects does not exist as well. While these activities might be of value, I am not sure if this is the role a professional organization needs to play?
Ashraf Salama
Empowering young professionals
Dear Ashraf,

Thanks for focussing the discussion on key issues. I would like to provide some information on activities related to young architects in India.

It will be of great interest to note here the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA) was originally a students' organisation, which was founded in the Dept of Architecture at Sir J.J.School of Art. It later became Bombay Association of Architects and then it was transformed into the Indian Institute of Architects by the young graduates and their esteemed professors.

The IIA went through its own cycle of growth, stagnation, revitalization and development over the decades.

In 1984, IIA was revived by a group of architects led by Ar. Rusi Khambatta (1984-88) and Ar. Madhav Deobhakta (1988-92. During these years I presented technical papers at annual conventions appealing to the IIA to evolve coherent development policies and action programmes. I was co-opted as Hon.Editor of the IIA in 1987 and given several responsibilities that included Chairman, IIA Publications Board, Secretary, IIA Professional Services Board, Secretary IIA International Affairs Board, and then I was elected as the national Jt.Secretary. During this period we formulated an all round development programme that focussed on servicing various target groups of architects. This included the students, young architects, women architects, architects in public services, teachers etc.

In 1987, we constituted Young Architects Forum and decided to host a national level Youth Festival with seminar and exhibition as key activities. Simulataneously I founded JIIA Awards which promoted mostly young and unknown architects for their excellence in architecture. We decentralised the structure of the IIA to provide for city level centres, state level chapters and regional zones apart from national council and boards. This enabled young architects to have their voice in the professional issues.
This led to a nation wide awakening of young architcts who have maintained a steady development and have been winning awards and designing and executing excellent projects, in spite of the inevitable petty politics. The young architects are active at city, chapter, zonal and national levels in the IIA.

Let me illustrate this with an example.

A young Muslim student of architecture, S.M.Akhtar from Lucknow decided to take the IIA distance learning programme while working in an architects office. He graduated and became a member of the IIA which is recognized as an equivalent qualification to a B. Arch. University degree in Architecture. He joined the editorial board of JIIA as a correspondent, kept on taking an active interest in the IIA chapter level activities. He revitalized the IIA Uttar Pradesh chapter and became its Secretary and then he was elected as its Chairman. He continued his further studies in town planning with Institute of Town Planners, India's distance learning programme (3 years) and graduated as a member of the institute. He did a planning thesis on linear cities. He has written more than 100 articles in local and national press. He was a member of IIA national council and several boards and committees. He took up a research based doctoral programme in urban management at Lucknow University and obtained his Phd. He started teaching as a lecturer at local college in Lucknow. Recently Dr. S.M. Akhtar was appointed as the Head of the Department of Jamia Millia University, a central government University based at New Delhi. He is as active as ever. Soon after he took charge, he organized a national seminar on Architecture for the masses! We are very proud of this young architect, planner and educator. He also writes poetry, designs sets for plays and takes active interests in social and environmental issues.

Yes, it can be done! A small and determined group of architects can bring about social transformation at local, city, state and national level through research, designing, planning, building, organizing and managing developmental activities.

Hope this story inspires our younger members of the ArchNet to take up the challenging tasks ahead with a vision, an action programme and determination to succeed.

with best wishes,
Akhtar Chauhan
Empowering young professionals
Dear Akhtar;

Many thanks for your posting. It is interesting to know that IIA was originated as a student organization. The inspiring story of Dr S.M. Akhtar is important for young professionals, but I wonder about Dr. Akhtar's activities toward serving young architects in his region in India. It would be nice that this information would be available to young Indian architects.
Ashraf Salama
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