Architect US

Working in California

Hello everyone,

I have thought how to start this new blog, and I have just decided to explain how is my experience working in a US company, and what are the things that I like about living in the US.

I was really afraid as you have seen in my first post in this blog about working in the US, at the beginning I was afraid of the imperial units, and of course, about Revit, I had some previous idea of how to use Revit but I had no professional experience at all, and there were more things, such as Endscape, Grasshopper, Unify, etc. Now I can say that I manage really well with all of those programs, thanks to my company.

The company starting helping me in that way from the start of my experience. I was involve in many courses in which I could learn how to use all of their tools and programs, at first I was overwhelmed by all these, as it was too much information, but step by step and with a lot of patience from my supervisor I have achieved my goal in the first month and a half. So by now I can say that my skills have improved very much and my understanding of the Building Code is getting better, that is the only thing I am still working on.

The company invests a lot in their teams, I was not the only one taking courses, nearly all of the staff takes from time to time different courses so they can improve, and this for sure, makes the firm more competitive in our area. That is what they are looking for at least in my firm.

Work hours are not a joke, we normally work 9 hours a day from Monday to Thursday and on Friday we just work 4 hours, that is super nice so you can have a lot of after work life during the week, and the weekend starts earlier. I get paid hourly so people here do not stay more than their working hours, that was a cultural shock for me as in Spain, we normally work overtime most of the days and you do not get paid for those hours. In this months that I have been in the US, there was only a day that I did over time work, and I have to say it was an emergency, and it is really well paid.

We are involve in several projects around the Bay area, my firm works mostly on Education and Healthcare projects. I am part of the Education team, right now I am involve in 3 different projects, as a designer. The process is really different from what I was used to in the past, as the Design team sketches the first proposal, then we shared it with the supervisor, and we make some adjustments, and later when we have nearly a whole designed proposal we shared it with the Design Principal of the firm, who give us feedback again to make some changes. That is completely different from the Spanish way, in which the Design principal will draft the first idea and concept and he will share it with the team so we can make to live, in this way you actually have a minimum of participation in the design process, that is something that I love about this American experience, everybody gets involved in the design, and that make us more involved in the project and for sure create and design better buildings.

The projects that I am involved have crazy budgets from Spanish standards, but I am learning so much here. Right now as I told you I am involved in three projects that are an Elementary School, a High School, and a new Building for a University Campus nearby. This was done on purpose by my supervisor so I could learn fast the different ways of approaching the code and the design of buildings depending on the size, use and age of the kids. These is really interesting as we have meetings with users, owners and of course the city.

The tools that we have here are much efficient, I felt in love with Revit, even thought it gives you less freedom than AutoCAD while designing, specially when you are not an expert. But It is really useful for team work and 3D visualization. We also have some other tools in the office that are really cool and useful for meeting with the clients. We usually use VR (Virtual Reality) with the clients, that is really helpful as they usually do not understand floorplans and section drawings, and they like to go thought their future building, walking through our design. I have been involved in two meetings with clients already using VR and they loved it!!

For the moment as you can see I cannot say anything bad from working in an American company besides sometimes everything is really slow, we are used to really extreme work rhythms in Spain, so for me at least in these first months everything goes really slow here.

See you in the next post !!

Arturo R.

Arturo Rodríguez

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