People need places to live, work, play, govern, learn, shop, and meet. Who designs these places? The architect does.
One of the most famous architects of our time is I. M. Pei. Pei was born in China in 1917. If you have ever seen any of the following famous buildings, you've seen Pei's work: the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; Le Grand Louvre in Paris; the Bank of China in Hong Kong; the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York; the Texas Commerce Tower in Houston; the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland; and the John Hancock Tower in Boston. Like all architects, Pei combines art, science, and mathematics to create environments for people.
If you are thinking about becoming an architect, there is one thing you can do to get an early start: Begin by examining the buildings around you and noticing what makes each one different. Sometimes, the function of a building determines what the structure will look like. Think about sports arenas. They are typically round or elliptical, so that everyone who comes to the arena can see the event that is taking place. Other times, buildings with similar functions can have very different appearances. An office building can be a 100-story skyscraper, or a large, single-story warehouse facility. In your examination of buildings, you'll also want to notice elements such as texture, color, light, and shape. You'll see there is so much more to building design than drawings on paper.
Whether the project is a room or a stadium, an architect listens to the needs of people and translates them into a livable environment. That means combining technical information (such as the kinds of materials needed to support buildings) and precise dimensions with government regulations for buildings and personal preferences, such as style. So the architect has to draw upon (no pun intended) knowledge, decision-making, teamwork, and creativity. What does that mean for a young student who is exploring a career in architecture? It means you might benefit from taking college prep courses in English, history, social studies, mathematics, physics, and foreign language. Courses in business and computer science may be helpful too, since many architects use a computer-aided design system (CAD) to create their designs. After high school, it's on to college for advanced courses and a professional degree program in architecture. Because architects are responsible for designing buildings that must be safe, they must be licensed as well.
But all that hard work and preparation pays off: Imagine looking up at a gleaming high-rise building or a beautiful museum and knowing that your talent and skill made it a landmark in your town.