So it has been 5 months since I packed my bags and moved to New York for my adventure. Many people have asked me lately why I moved to New York to work as an architect and for me the answer is simple. Architecture is cultural and contextual. To learn about how the industry works, to get inspiration and to develop not only do I feel like practicing architecture abroad is key but it helps broaden your horizons. And New York has always been a city that keeps being fascinating both culturally and architecturally, so it was an easy choice for me. I wanted to learn more about the way things are built in New York and the US but also understand the inspiration and trends that shape that architecture over here.
So what is it then like to be an architect in NYC? Not that different from anywhere else I have worked. Although I think the experience might differ depending on the size of the office, the projects the offices deal with etc. in comparison to ones background and previous work.
For me, the biggest change has been the scale, not of the office but the projects, as well as the work culture. I come from a background of working in small offices (15-20 people) doing big scale projects. Both residential and public ones. Now I spend my days on smaller projects; interior design, townhouse renovations and private houses. What that means is that work here is not as teamwork based. A lot of projects are run by one person alone which is a change. It also means I get to spend more time on details which is something I actually enjoy and have been missing in my previous work. The work and projects are inspirational and I have already learned a lot about American style, trends and so on.
As mentioned before, the other big difference is the work culture. American work culture differs in a few ways. Payed days off are often less than in most other countries, benefits are not always guaranteed (which can just be good to be aware of), the way of working in architecture feels more traditional and the hierarchy is pretty different. The work place is for work, and a lot of the social events related to work still stay in the office space. Some of these changes require some adaptation. But with that said I have been lucky to be surrounded by great colleagues from which I can not only learn a lot but with whom we meet and create our own social gatherings also outside of work. This is something I truly appreciate as it gives me the opportunity to get to know more about their experiences and life in NYC.
Lastly there is also the culture of art and architecture of New York that makes a big difference in the life of an architect. Events, showrooms and happenings, all related to the field of work. There is always someplace one can visit to get inspired no matter the day of the week.
All in all being an architect in NYC is quite as traditional a job as anywhere else, but with a few adaptations the big win of being in NYC is being surrounded by so much inspiration. People with different backgrounds and experience to learn from, galleries, museums and showrooms to be inspired by creates an overall inspirational environment to be apart of.