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To: Kevin Brooks

From: Kirsten Staloch

Date: December 2009

Subject: Informational Memo

I am researching architecture skills and trends that are useful for me to know as a
student. I interviewed an architect that I found inspiring and set up useful
information to apply for internships. I learned
• Software skills to know as an architecture intern
• Client relationship skills and how I can improve my social skills
• Qualities I am looking for in the firm that I am applying for an internship

I interviewed Christina Jansen from the architecture firm Alley, Poyner, Macchietto
Architecture. I met her last March and she specializes in restorations in and around
Omaha, NE. I will be applying for internships coming up this summer. To prepare for
the applying process and interviews, I will need to work on my skills and
professionalism to become a good architecture intern for next year.

Students in architecture work on design skills and social skills to become architects.
We work with architecture software in school such as Revit, SketchUp, and Indesign.
During my interview, I asked about the kinds of software that are used in Christina’s
firm and she said that they use a lot of SketchUp for process drawings (Jansen,
2009). One thing that I learned was about how clients get attached to what they see
and they do not always understand that designing is a process. Christina said that
using Revit has a more final look to it and clients get to attached to a process model
so SketchUp is better in that way.

A skill needed as a designer is graphic computer skills. Adobe Indesign and

Illustrater are good softwares to perfect your skills in because you use these
softwares to present projects to clients. I found out that new software is being
provided for architects who can use a more specified product. “A substantial
number of enterprises and independent software vendors are adopting a strategy in
which software-intensive systems are developed with an open architecture”
(Alspaugh, 2009). It is important for us to remember that software is always
changing with new technologies. Software skills are essential when looking for a
career as an architect, but it is all about the clients that we serve.

While visiting firms, all the architects said that communication skills are very
important. Christina first said that I should take more writing and English classes,
and if I have time then take construction classes. We have to be able to present
ourselves with poise and confident communication skills in the work force. Soft skills
are also needed when thinking about architects and clients working together. Client
relationships are very important. Clients return to the architecture firm for more
work if they had a good relationship with them previously. Christina said in the
interview that “They [clients] are who hire us” and we do “the best we can.”
Johanna Fullerton and others did some research on what clients would like as they
pursue a product. After going through her research, I found “for over a third of the
consultants it was considered important that the client had organizational leverage,
viewed the relationship as an opportunity rather than a threat; and also that the
client and the consultant had a non-work relationship” (Fullerton, 1996). I never
thought about our effect on them until I went over this. An older article like this still
holds true today; Clients want to feel comfortable with their partnering team. Our
social skills are more important than computer skills because we can’t work without
people hiring us to use our technology skills.

Efficiency is a hot topic in Architecture with the developing of systems and ideas to
reduce, reuse and recycle. Designing to build an energy saving building is expected
by clients. We, as designers, are to incorporate green architecture into architecture.
In the future, these titles will merge and we will only design sustainable structures.
Talking with Christina was good because of her background with restoration
projects. She said that preservation and the use of old materials is high efficiently
for her job (Jansen, 2009). It is better to use a building that is already constructed
than to build a new one. According to the article ‘Specifying residential Appliances:
Green Update’ “It takes four times as much energy to manufacture steel from ore
as it does to make the same steel from recycled scrap” (Arsenault, 2005). Using a
sustainable design is common now in architecture and it will continue to be
important as we move on into the future.

I have been working on my designing skills since I have started at North Dakota
State University in 2008. The classes in the architecture program have prepared me
to develop skills with ArchitectureRevit and other software. Writing and speech
classes prepare me for firm presentations and creating a portfolio. I have created a
portfolio to present to firms that I apply for internships. The interview that I had with
Christina was a good in with the firm because we ended up talking about internships
and she told me to send me resume over. I am going to apply to Alley Poyner
Macchietto Architecture for a summer internship. Their website for careers is

This was a good chance to review the skills that an architect should have and
gather information to start a portfolio.

Kirsten Staloch


Alspaugh, T. (2009). Analyzing software licenses in open architecture software

system. U.S.
NSF & Acquisition Research Program. Retrieved from September 19,

Arsenault, P. (2005). Specifying Residential Applications: Green Update. Retrieved

from Architectural
Record from
1.asp. December 12, 2009.

C. Jansen, Personal Interview, September 3, 2009.

Fullerton, J. (1996). Consultant and Client-Working Together? Journal of Managerial

Psychology. “Retrieved from September 19,