Skip to main content

Festina Lente (and the Architect Registration Exam)

Somehow February and March came and went, and now it's the season of Lent, a time in the Christian tradition reserved for penitence and fasting, which I'm observing by forcing myself to take the Architect Registration Exams (AREs) and by trying to write more regularly.  "Lent" means "spring," and also "long," which together describes this exam period quite well, since it will probably take me from now until the end of the year to finish all seven of the exams.  A long spring indeed.  (After that, I will also take the California Supplemental Exam, or CSE, once my internship hours are complete.)  Lent, or lente in Latin, also means slowly, which again describes the exam process quite well... and my attempt to get this over with as quickly as possible?  Festina lente.  So there you have it.  A long, slow spring of studying.

But what you really want to know is whether I passed my first exam last week, the Programming, Planning, & Practice (PPP) exam, which covers practice management, site planning, building codes, and more.  Happily, I did pass, and now I'm on to studying for Site Planning & Design (SPD).  Unfortunately, a passing score means that I received no information whatsoever about my performance on the exam, so that's all I know.  Only failing scores come with a breakdown of performance on different subject areas.  So there's nothing for it but to continue on.

I found the PPP to be broad, as expected, but more focused than the study material seemed to indicate.  I'm using both Kaplan's series and Ballast's ARE Review Manual, as provided by my office.  Ballast seemed the better source for this exam.  The graphic portion of the exam (the graphic "vignette") was very easy once I figured out how to do it.  The exam guides are quite clear on this part, so it's not any trouble.  Next up, SPD, should have a significant amount of content overlap with PPP, so I'm hoping it won't be difficult.  After that come the hard exams.

My exam schedule looks to be as follows:

March - PPP
April - SPD
June - Structural Systems (SS)
July - Schematic Design (SD)
September - Building Systems (BS)
October - Building Design & Construction Systems (BDCS)
November - Construction Documents & Services (CDS)

Failing one of the exams requires one to wait six months before re-testing, so this schedule puts the hardest exams in the middle.  This gives me time to take some easier exams at the end, so that my re-test dates would be in January, not too long after my final exam.

But then, once all the hours and all the exams are done?  I get the stamp.  Not that I'll actually get to stamp my own drawings once I have it - for liability reasons, all drawings in my office are stamped by the firm principals, not by the project managers or job captains - but I'll be a real architect.  The real deal.  No more of this "oh, so you're an architect?" "Well, yes, sort of, but not exactly."  Clarity - that's what we all want.  Clarity and better pay.  No, clarity, better pay, and respect - wait, let me come in again.



Popular posts from this blog

Vertical Bike Rack

The work of our hands!

A little backstory:  We bought two bikes as soon as we could after moving here, so we could both bike to work.  After a few uneventful months of chaining up our bikes next to our car in the carport of our apartment building, Justin's bike was stolen.  (Mine was mysteriously left behind, together with Justin's pannier, which the thieves helpfully folded up and placed on top of my bike.  My only guess is that the chain holding my bike was harder to cut than the chain on Justin's.)  Since then, we've kept our bikes inside, hauling them up and down two flights of stairs to our third-floor apartment every time we take them out, which is usually a few times a week.  Ugh.  Better than buying a new bike every few months, though.

We needed a rack that would keep the bikes off the floor, off the walls, and in as small a footprint as possible, without requiring us to drill into or otherwise damage the walls (or floor or ceiling).  This proved a challenge t…

Book Review: "Theory and Design in the First Machine Age"

Reyner Banham's Theory and Design in the First Machine Age (1960) is an engaging overview of the important theoretical developments of the early 20th century leading up to the "International Style" of the 1930s-40s.  Banham does a fairly good job, in my opinion, of avoiding excessive editorializing, although he has a clear viewpoint on the Modern Movement and finishes with a strong conclusion.  In opposition to his teacher, Nikolaus Pevsner, whose own history of modernism came out in 1936, Banham dismantled the "form follows function" credo that became the stereotype of modernism, arguing instead that formalism (a preoccupation with style and aesthetics) was an important, if not overriding, concern of Modern architects.  Two sections of the book struck me in particular: his analysis of Le Corbusier's famous book Vers une architecture (Toward a [new] architecture) from 1923, and his Conclusion (chapter 22), where he breaks the link between functionalism and …

LEED Green Associate

Today I am pleased to report that I have passed the LEED® Green Associate exam, so I am now officially a LEED-accredited professional.  I have a few thoughts on this process that might be helpful for others looking into getting their own LEED Green Associate credential.  While I'm certainly in support of sustainable building practices, which is why I went to the trouble to get the credential in the first place, I don't think it's inappropriate to take a critical stance toward the whole enterprise in order to challenge the profession (and the industry) to be more self-aware.

The preparation: I passed the exam by using only resources that were freely available to me through my school library, including an e-book version of the LEED Green Associate study guide by Michelle Cottrell and the USGBC LEED Core Concepts Guide.  (Although I asked the library to obtain a new copy of the official USGBC LEED Green Associate Study Guide since the one they had was lost, they still haven&…