The Edge: Brandon Hubbard, The Architect’s Guide.

January 28, 2016 7 min read

Novedge: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. Brandon-HubbardBrandon Hubbard: My name is Brandon Hubbard, AIA, Architect and Founder of The Architect's Guide. I was born in New Zealand and relocated to the United States at age 10. I lived in London for seven years before moving to San Francisco in 2014. I have worked for several world-renowned architecture firms across the U.S. and Europe, including Foster + Partners in London. I am a licensed California architect and LEED Accredited Professional with a Master’s Degree in Architecture. I have contributed to the Design of numerous high profile projects including the Bloomberg Headquarters in London, the Hermitage Towers in Paris, Heathrow Terminal 2 in London and the SAMBA Bank Tower in Riyadh. I am currently a Senior Design Architect working on large scale commercial projects in the San Francisco Bay area. I am also a Content Partner for ArchDaily, writing on the topic of Architecture careers.  Bloomberg-London-Foster+Partners-01Bloomberg Headquarters, London, Foster + Partners.  Hermitage-Plaza-Paris-Foster+Partners-01 Hermitage Towers, Paris,  Foster + Partners. Samba-Tower-Riyadh-Saudi-Arabia-Foster+Partners-02SAMBA Bank Tower, RiyadhFoster + Partners.

Novedge:  What is the journey that brought you where you are now.

Brandon Hubbard: Over the past ten years I received many emails from former classmates, colleagues and friends asking for advice on their Architecture job applications. I began to mentor an increasing number of aspiring and practicing Architects during the economic downturn in 2008. I primarily helped them with their job searches including resumes, portfolios and interviews. I also gave Architecture students tours of the Foster + Partners' office and would often sit with them afterwards (sometimes for hours) to discuss their careers and goals. I have always enjoyed helping others with their Architecture careers and this became the primary reason for starting The Architect's Guide.

Novedge: How did you come up with The Architect's Guide idea?

Brandon Hubbard: There was a point when I was receiving so many requests for information that it became difficult to keep up. I realized that there wasn't a career resource for Architects as it relates to job applications. So I decided to create one. I spent several months compiling all of my application information and research that I had successfully used in the past. These resources would later become The Architect's Guide site. The website became a much more efficient way of helping applicants land an Architecture job. I am now able to help many more people than before. While I still receive a large volume of emails, I am able to provide links to the more commonly asked questions while addressing specific concerns directly.

Novedge: Who is your target audience?

Brandon Hubbard: When I started The Architects Guide, I didn't have a specific audience in mind. However, it is natural to assume that the inexperienced young professionals need the most help and encouragement. This group has evolved into my core audience. I also particularly enjoy helping individuals transitioning into the Architecture profession from other fields.

Novedge:  What are some of the resources offered by your website?

Brandon Hubbard: In addition to my regular blog posts I have The Architect's Guide Store. My most popular resource is The Complete Package which includes the eGuide to Applications and Interviews along with interview Q&A flashcards and a sample application portfolio. I am continually updating the store with new content and products based on feedback from my audience. I also offer free resume, cover letter and other application document samples.

Novedge: You are still a full time Architect. What's your favorite part about the job?

Brandon Hubbard: I love the variety and flexibility the Architecture profession offers. There are so many areas of specialization. Also, I may be biased but Architecture tends to attract very genuine, kind, hardworking people. Many of my closest friends are Architects and I have had the privilege of working with some of the best designers in the world. All of which are very encouraging and open to sharing ideas.

Novedge: What are the do's and don'ts upon graduating in Architecture.

Brandon Hubbard: In a recent article, 5 Architecture Career Success Tips For Millennials, I discussed five areas that recent graduates should address when entering the profession.

1. Stop complaining

By far the biggest complaint I see in the architecture community is salary. As an Architect you need to focus on YOUR career, training and qualifications. Your salary is effective when you are. So how are you being effective? What value are you bringing to the firm? If you feel you are stuck don’t just sit there. Figure out where you want to be in ten years and make a plan to get there.

2. Work at work

Perhaps this sounds crazy but when you are at work you need to be working. Create a task list every morning and work through it methodically. Turn off your email pop-up notifications. Try to minimize all distractions. This means staying off your phone. You can check it before work, at lunch and at the end of the day.

3. Don’t take advantage of your employer

Do you need to leave early? Ask and don’t just assume you can because it was cool at your old office. This is called work and you are paid to be there. While legitimate emergencies come up in life, try to plan around the ones you can control. If you are willing to do these things you will be rewarded. Over time you will be known as dependable and responsible. This will ultimately lead to increased compensation and promotions. If not, then you need to move on to a place where your hard work and focus will not go unnoticed.

4. Never stop learning

I typically spend approximately 3-5% of my income on self-improvement. This includes software training, books, seminars, conferences, courses, etc. In today's environment there is always something new.

Could you be more efficient? An even better Designer? Indispensable to your office? Learn a new program?

5. Manage your finances

As with any profession the lowest person on the totem pole is often the lowest paid. However, this dissatisfaction is also caused by the fact many millennials are not on a budget. Create a unique budget for every month and stick to it. Don’t impulse buy or think you “deserve” something. Whenever someone says “I can afford it” that usually means they cannot. Avoid debt and pay off any loans you may already have. Don’t overspend on rent. In a few years no one will care if you had a cool apartment at 25. Save and invest. These are your “compounding years”. Every dollar invested now will be worth ten or more at retirement.

Novedge:  What is the best advice you have ever received in your profession ?

Brandon Hubbard: Dan Miller, Career Coach and Author of 48 Days to the Work You Love, shared a great piece of career advice.

"There is a common belief that your passion is something you just wake up one day and there it is. Not true. Passion for your work is something that you must work at over years, tweaking and adjusting along the way. If a plane from LA to New York gets off course it doesn’t turn around, it corrects over the duration of the flight. Your career is the same."

Novedge: You are contributor for ArchDaily; is there an article or a post that you wrote, that was well received beyond your expectations?

Brandon Hubbard: My most recent ArchDaily article, 7 Reasons Working Abroad May Be Bad For Your Architecture Career, received a surprising level of feedback from all over the world. Perhaps it is because I took a more personal approach to the article. I consider myself to be quite a private person. One of the hurdles of writing for me was to become comfortable with millions of people reading my thoughts and ideas. I began by writing articles that lacked my own personal opinions and beliefs. Over time I have realized that people want to hear and share personal stories. As a result I will likely continue to use my own experiences as a starting point for my writing.

Novedge: There seems to be a tendency for Architects to seek guidance. Is this a smart way to get an edge and keep up with the evolving profession?

Brandon Hubbard: Architecture is a complex profession with many different fields of specialization. As an architect it is very important to continue your education beyond the classroom. Whether it is becoming licensed, keeping up on the latest materials and techniques or simply meeting with others in the profession. I have found that the most successful people are often the individuals most willing to admit they don't know everything. Surrounding yourself with a support group of leaders in their area of expertise can be extremely beneficial to your professional goals.

Novedge: What is your take on technology?

Brandon Hubbard: Technology has always had a major influence on Design and Construction, perhaps now more than ever. Over the past decade the rate of Design Software and Technology has grown exponentially. The ubiquity of BIM software has greatly increased project accuracy and coordination. Not only allowing for greater complexity but also more efficient Designs. I am interested to see what the next ten years holds. Will the digital revolution create a brick and mortar revolution? I am hopeful that advancements in Construction Technology will bring the same benefits for low income housing as it has done for high end construction. The need for affordable, quality housing is an increasing global issue that has to be addressed.

Make sure to read  Brandon's brilliant articles both on his Blog and on ArchDaily and visit The Architect's Guide website to take full advantage of its precious resources. 

Never neglect an opportunity for improvement. You work on your skills,  for all your Design Tools there's Novedge.


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