September 25, 2017

‘I Want to Work In’ is sponsored by PPI (Professional Publications, Inc.). Located in Belmont, California, PPI is the leader in exam preparation review materials and publisher of the ARE 5 Review Manual by David Kent Ballast, FAIA, NCIDQ. They are the Preferred ARE Prep Provider of the AIAS, and their mission is simple: they want you to pass your exam.

Last week we invited you to join us on Instagram for a firm tour of Maple Street Design Studio to get a feel for what it’s like to work in a small (two person!) firm. This week on I Want to Work In (#iwtwi), we are featuring the top five places to eat, sleep, work, play, and study in Camden, Maine. This list will help you familiarize yourself with the city being featured in case you are interested in living and working there in the future!

top 5 places To…



Hope is a neighboring town of Camden, and about a 10-minute commute from my first job. My first apartment was on a 7-acre property adjacent to a dairy farm. My landlords lived on the property and grew vegetables and were meticulous with their land. It was remote but beautiful, and I rented the apartment above the garage for the first two years. Pro Tip: The best place to find rentals like this are the community bulletin boards at the coffee or bagel shops.


Eventually, I moved into Camden and lived downtown above the bookshop. I had windows that faced the main street, meaning I had the best viewing platform for any parades that came through town, best views for the wandering musicians who decided to come to town in the summer, and I had my own private roof deck, of which I could watch the sun rise off of the ocean each morning. Pro Tip: If you’re thinking about moving to Camden and looking for a fair rent, 12 Main Street is the best option with the best view. I found this through word of mouth, but the baristas at Zoot might be in the know of what’s available.


Rockland is known for its artsy community and home to the Lobster Festival. That being said, there are some really great apartments right in the heart of downtown. Pro Tip: Pop over to Rock City Coffee in downtown Rockland and check with the baristas there. Craigslist or community boards would have listings as well.


My top five firms to work at in the Midcoast region.

Maple Street Design Studio

Knickerbocker Group

Phi Builders + Architects

Scholz & Barclay Architecture

John Morris Architects


Primo Restaurant – farm to table

Long Grain – best Asian cuisine in town

Boynton McKay – an old-school diner in a 1890s pharmacy

McCloon’s Lobster Shack – classic lobster rolls

Delvino’s – great for date night’s dinner and a movie at the historic Colonial Theatre in Belfast


Penobscot Bay Islands (Isleboro, North Haven, Vinalhaven, and Monhegan) Pro Tip: Head on down to Port Clyde and take the ferry for a day trip to Monhegan Island. Great hiking, lots of artsy shops and a few eateries.

Hike to the top of Mount Battie – Pro Tip: Head up for sunrise or sunset. You can either hike or drive up and park at the summit.

U.S. National Toboggan Championships & Samoset Ice Bar

The Strand Theatre, a historic, 1920’s art deco theater that was beautifully restored in 2005. Lots of great independent films. Pro Tip: hit up a showing of the 1920’s silent film, Nosferatu, with a live band playing the soundtrack.

Camden Windjammer Festival (and other summer sailing festivals)

Camden International Film Festival


Zoot Coffee – best coffee in town and a great place to study (conducive to study breaks as friends pop in)!

Camden Public Library and Amphitheatre designed by renowned landscape architect Fletcher Steele. Pro Tip: Grab a blanket for the lawn and your PPI flash cards for some great examples of Site Planning & Design.

Rock City Coffee in Rockland offers great people watching, comfy chairs for studying, and a bookshop in the back.

Camden Harbor – serves two purposes: a great study location AND a great lunch spot. Grab a hot dog on the town pier!

My private roof deck – 12 Main Street is where it’s at!


Meet People

You’ve arrived, now what? Here are my recommendations for where to meet people and make friends.

Zoot – definitely the best place to hang around on a weekend. The locals are in and out all day and you will start to see familiar faces.

Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours – these events are typically held on Wednesday evenings, right after work. Head on over to network and meet other professionals in the area.

The Bar at Primo – a great place to meet and hang out with other foodies (if you’re into that!). Great atmosphere for hanging out and talking with new friends

Anytime after October 15 – Camden is definitely a tourist destination, but once the leaf peepers leave in mid-October, you’ll start to recognize the locals coming out of the woodwork. Don’t be afraid to say hello and strike up a conversation – everyone is super friendly!

French & Brawn – the local grocer, located right below Maple Street Design Studio. Pop in for a coffee or a sandwich at lunch and you’ll get to know many of the folks around town!

Camden Snow Bowl – enjoy skiing or tubing? Pop on over to the Snow Bowl for some great skiing Jan-March and meet people who enjoy being outdoors.

Fun Facts

Run into any number of celebrities here including John Travolta, J.J. Abrams, Patrick Dempsey, and Chris O’Donnell.

Camden is also home to many writers including David McCullough, Tess Gerritsen, Richard Russo, and the songwriter Don McLean.

Camden is also home to PopTech, a community of entrepreneurs who descend each year in Camden to discuss new ideas. You may even catch sight of John Legend, who is rumored to be on their Board of Directors.