This essay is a summary of the book “The Multi-Skilled Designer: Cognitive Foundation for Inclusive Architectural Thinking.” Using the theory of multiple intelligences from cognitive psychology, and developments in psychometric research, the book advocates eight skills to incorporate skill diversity in design. Design problems of 21st Century vary far too greatly—in terms of their content, scale, and complexity, and demand a repertoire of skills. To consider multiple skillsets is to recognize the presence of individual differences, representations, and approaches in design. This allows a shift from formalist practices of architecture that emphasize graphical and formal logic skills, that tend to produce the same type of designers and privilege a narrow section of designer thinkers.
Skills: The Latest Architecture and News
I was part of the last generation of architectural students who didn't use computers (we’re only talking the early 1990’s here; there was electricity, color TV’s, rockets, just no renderings.) In my final year at college I miscalculated how long it would take me to finish my thesis project. As the deadline approached, I realized it was too late for me to match my fellow students’ presentations. At the time Zaha Hadid, and her deconstructivist paintings, set the style for architectural illustration. That meant many student projects being rendered in oil paints on large canvases.
You did it! You finished those grueling years of architecture school, perfected your portfolio and your interview pitch, and you landed your first job with an architecture firm. Everyone told you that working in a firm would be lightyears different from what you were used to doing in school, but until you get out there yourself, there is really no way to know just what that might entail. Once you’ve tackled life’s bigger questions about surviving outside of architecture school, you still have to learn to function in a day-to-day job. The learning curve is steep and it can certainly be overwhelming, but you’ve made it this far and there are a few lessons and skills you are sure to gain quickly as you start your career.
Architecture school is a long haul and we all know it. Whether you get a 5-year professional degree or choose to take on a few years of graduate school (or both), it’s a grueling process. However, most would hopefully agree, it’s worth it for the knowledge you gain throughout those years (not to mention the friendships you form in the close quarters of the studio). Architectural education is about more than learning to design great spaces and whether or not you realize it at the time, architecture school is also a great teacher of other life lessons. All the skills below are those you’ll likely attain incidentally during your tenure in architecture school, but which will be an asset outside of academia as well.