Architecture – A Career of Life Long Learning by Ralph Johnson, FAIA


An article in Connection Magazine’s Edification issue published in December, 2016 highlighted thoughts from a selection of active COD members on the relationship between COD and life-long learning. The magazine’s space limitations wouldn’t allow for the full text of each contributor so we’re presenting them here in their totality.

What I tell young graduating architects is that getting your degree is not the end of learning, but just the beginning. Young architects in their apprenticeship period tend to be impatient and want to be in charge right away. What I encourage them to do is to treat anything that you are assigned as a learning experience. It helps your professional growth tremendously if you approach everything you are assigned to in an open and enthusiastic way. Open competitions are also a great way for young architects to explore ideas at the beginning of their careers, and as a supplement to their real-life project experience. Not only do you get to explore your own ideas, but you get to see how others have approached the same problem.

Now that I have been in practice for more than 40 years and am fortunate to be leading the design of challenging projects, learning still continues for me. Learning happens through collaboration with others, including listening to younger architects ideas and working with creative consultants such as engineers and landscape architects. Traveling is another passion of mine and has enriched my work throughout the years. Traveling with other colleagues is especially rewarding such as the study trips sponsored by the AIA Committee on Design. Experiencing other cultures and settings, and seeing how other architects respond to unique contexts helps to broaden your horizons. The main thing to remember is to always challenge yourself.

The COD article appears on pages 28-31.


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