A Year in the life of a Part One Architectural Assistant

We ask Part One students about their year-out experience with Hamilton Architects

Jonathan

Holy Trinity
Images courtesy of Mauricia Photography
What have you enjoyed best?
It has been a great all-round experience and I have learned a lot. I have really enjoyed being one of the team and it is a very nice place to work. If I had to choose just one aspect which was stand-out for me, it would be the work I have done on listed buildings.

What have you found the most challenging?
Adapting my mindset to working with different people, who each have their own unique approaches and processes. It has been very good for me to experience the different ways in which people tackle projects and to learn how to be flexible and responsive to those differences.

Has anything you’ve experienced changed your perception of architecture as a career?
It’s not all about design! You have to learn about contracts, legislation, paper work – the whole business end of things. It is only when you start working on a real project that you understand and appreciate how important all those things are.

If you could work on any architecture project, what would it be?
I have just started working with one of the Senior Architects on a project for Glenwood Primary School in Belfast. It was built in 1928 by the famous education architect RS Wilshere and I am very interested in the period details of this listed building and in identifying how to preserve its uniqueness while creating a modern educational facility.

What advice would you give to other Part Ones going into work experience?
There is so much to learn – but don’t stress, just go with the flow and enjoy the experience!

Mohammad

Mohammad
Images courtesy of Mauricia Photography
What have you enjoyed best?
I have enjoyed the variety of projects I have worked on – you don’t get pigeon-holed. I was also given a bit of responsibility early on, which was great for my confidence. It was challenging, but inspiring too. I have found the rest of the team to be very supportive.

What have you found the most challenging?
It is a big shift from university and a teaching environment, to a real architecture practice which deals with all the practical issues of regulations and restrictions. You discover just how important these things are when applied to live projects.

Has anything you’ve experienced changed your perception of architecture as a career?
It’s not all about design! You have to learn about contracts, restrictions, legislation, paper work – the whole business end of things. It is only when you start working on a real project that you understand and appreciate how important all those things are.

If you could work on any architecture project, what would it be?
I am inspired by architecture like The Gherkin in London, Berlin’s Museum Island or the National Bank of Kuwait Tower. Any project by Norman Foster or David Chipperfield, basically!

What advice would you give to other Part Ones going into work experience?
If you are hungry for experience on different projects, don’t wait to be asked – do the asking!


Niamh

Niamh
Images courtesy of Mauricia Photography
What have you enjoyed best?
The variety of projects that I have been involved in – everything from conservation to newbuild and refurb work. I have mainly been working on small, discrete projects in the healthcare sector and it is very satisfying to see something go from design to completion within the year.

What have you found the most challenging?
It is a bit of a culture change going from the flexible, relaxed environment of university into the 9-5, structured environment of a professional architecture practice. On the plus side, it is surprising how quickly you get an opportunity to be hands-on with a project and there is always someone you can turn to and learn from.

Has anything you’ve experienced changed your perception of architecture as a career?
Definitely! I have even got to experience elements of Part Three while I have been with Hamilton Architects and I have learnt a lot more about contracts and regulations. Work experience with a big practice like this gives you real insight into all the other stuff that goes into bringing buildings to life.

If you could work on any architecture project, what would it be?
I really want to work on arts, cultural and tourism projects – museums, theatres and arts galleries. I think the Lyric Theatre in Belfast was a wonderful project and it would be my ambition to work on something like that.

What advice would you give to other Part Ones going into work experience?
Get yourself familiar with Revit BIM! It is a very widely used tool in practice, so you would save a lot of time and frustration to get to grips with it before placement.