Architecture school is a place of experiment and a testing ground for innovative ideas. The academic work and student projects can bring to light the focus of an entire career, shape the backbone for an architectural theory, and crystalize values. How do their studies and formative years reflect on the later work of different architects? Taking a journey along decades, we explore the transition from architecture school to practice, the reverberance of academic explorations and early projects in the work of several architects and practices, highlighting the different pivotal steps that have shaped the beginning of their architectural journey. Throughout different decades, particular socio-economic environments shaped the opportunities available to young architects. As Natalie de Vries stated: "It's much harder for young architects starting now because of the current economic conditions. They have to think much more about their business models – we could just dive in and start making things." Some architects of the last century found themselves in the privileged position of having notable commissions in their early careers, as is the case of Alison and Peter Smithson who were in their twenties when they took up the commission for the Hunstanton School in Norfolk. On the other hand, it took more than a decade since graduation for Zaha Hadid to have one of her designs built. It is hard to tell if contemporary media and the proliferation of the means for disseminating good architecture and innovative projects empower young architects, getting them a step closer to commissions. Nonetheless, the academic preoccupations of architecture students illustrate the ethos of the particular moment and place, underlining distinct approaches to architecture, and it is worth exploring how various architects from different decades have pursued their student architectural interests after graduation.
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