Yesterday we met at IIT about our graduate admissions targets for the upcoming admissions cycle (I'm the Director of Graduate Admissions at the College Architecture) and one question was how the economy will impact the number of applications. Last year we saw a big spike in applications to the two-year Master of Architecture program. With the number of unemployed architects at a high, many grads of the first 4 of the 4+2 sequence opt to go ahead and do the 2 while "off". My thinking was that as some offices start hiring we might see a drop. The open question is how the devastation will impact applicants to the three-year master of Architecture program. These people are mostly embarking on a new career path and are surely eyeing downstream job prospects. Which leads me to an article on this morning's Morning Edition:
Few professions have been hit harder in this economy than architects. In Seattle alone, thousands of them are out of work. "I know everything there is to know about building a building from a garage in your backyard to a high-rise in downtown Seattle," says Gary Barber, a practicing architect for 30 years. "I have that experience and skill set." Barber exudes passion for his work. But as an architect, skill and passion are no longer enough. There's not much demand for new houses or commercial buildings, and that means not much demand for architects, crane operators or escrow officers.
Not the news I was hoping to hear this morning, but maybe the crunch will allow small, smart, and/or nimble firms to adapt to a rapidly changing professional environment. And students who accurately assess the long-term prospects for practice will be the best people to keep practice more closely aligned with expectations on the part of the people who grant us a monopoly on huge portions of the building design sector.