April 22, 2020

Online courses sure have their ups and downs. But how does architecture education work in an online format? Well, a lot of great minds are searching for an answer to that challenging question. The American Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) has taken steps to help provide educators and students with the solutions to these challenges. Over the past few weeks, ACSA has been hosting webinars with topics ranging from Design Build Online to physical modeling and virtual collaboration and overall best practices to engage with students in a virtual format. All of these webinars were recorded and live on ACSA’s website. To hear what your professors are being told, go give them a listen! 

Unfortunately, we still might face some challenges while shifting to online learning. But just because studio is no longer in person doesn’t mean that we can throw a positive studio culture out the window! Now, more than ever, we need to address our mental health and overall wellbeing. If you are having trouble discussing this with your professors or don’t know where to begin, read this article about rewriting your studio culture policy. If you’re facing similar problems such as unrealistic work expectations or completely new challenges like professors not respecting the allotted class time, this is a perfect opportunity to have an active hand in changing the culture at your school.


While we’re working on improving our learning and teaching culture, there’s some things we can begin to do simultaneously:

Improve our soft skills – In an unsteady economy, you want to make yourself stand above the crowd to land a job so use school as a way to better your communication skills. If you or one of your peers is facing a challenge in a class but your professor can’t seem to see it, don’t be afraid to pause the conversation and address the issue. Be sure to be kind and not harsh or accusatory but also be firm and let them know that the issue is not adding to the learning environment. Another soft skill that school can help you improve is your ability to work in teams. Coordinating team meetings can be a difficult task even when we are allowed to gather in person so being virtual can add some extra hurdles that you might need to overcome. Be sure to answer emails and texts from your group mates in a timely manner. Also consider using a different communication tool to maximize the amount that your team is talking. Apps like WhatsApp, Discord, and Slack are all free to use! 

Reconnect with your network – During these socially distant times, we need to remember that we’re not alone. If you’re worried about what the future might have in store, try connecting to your school’s career counselor if you have one. Also, if you have a mentor or someone you respect and look up to, now is a great time to chat with them and talk through your options. Another great place to reconnect with is a firm you’ve previously worked with. They might be able to offer some additional advice as well. 

Polish up your portfolio and resume – Whether or not you are graduating this semester, it’s never a bad idea to keep your portfolio and resume updated. Sometimes opportunities present themselves when you least expect it. Having a pdf to share at the click of a button shows a level of preparedness that employers love to see! Already have your portfolio in top shape? Then go a step further and think about publishing it online or even creating your own website to showcase your work. That way, you never have to worry about a huge file size that won’t send via email. If you need a refresher on some different softwares, check out the AIAS’s Software Survival Guide. And if you need some inspiration, check out the 2018 InStudio Portfolio Competition Winners, the 2019 InStudio Portfolio Competition Winners, and the Visualizing Architecture Blog.

Start a school matrix – If you’re going into grad school or are a current high school student looking at starting their career in architecture, you wanna be sure to do some research for schools that would be a good fit for you. The Membership Committee has put together a School Matrix Template that you can use to keep all your research in one place. Click here to download a copy.


We know that times are hard right now but the challenges we’re facing now will lead to even better tech skills, workplace flexibility, and ability to adapt. Please stay healthy and follow the guidelines in place wherever you are physically located and remember that although we aren’t there in person, the AIAS is there in spirit! 

-The Membership Committee