The Gaines Group

A story of mentoring in Architecture

A story of mentoring in Architecture

Mentoring in Architecture is the key to a healthy profession. It is a regular occurrence that we have a student in our office observing, learning, and designing. These are not employees, but students interested in the profession. They are motivated to find out if architecture is really their passion. For me, mentoring future architects is not only good for the students, but good for the profession. Having students, high school and college, in the office gives them a view of what we do – it really is not all design. It is rewarding to share our lives with these eager designers and energizing to see their passion.

This past summer we enjoyed having David Martin, a Virginia Tech Architectural student, and Alex Alvarez, a Blue Ridge Community College student and hopeful University of Virginia Architectural student, in our office. They each took on the challenge to design a custom home as a process to learn the software, basics of design, construction systems, pricing, and specifications. It was also a chance for them to see what our firm does on a daily basis from behind the scenes. I asked David to write a summary of his experience. I will share it below. If you know of students interested in the architectural profession, have them talk to architects, job shadow, and interview current architectural students. It will be an incredible way for them to figure out direction, passion, and verify career path well before walking down the path.

David’s story

“With another year at Virginia Tech behind me, I was fortunate enough to be able to spend my summer at the Gaines Group Architects to further my education as an architect. Right away, Charles challenged me to design a house to fit on an empty lot in my neighborhood, with my parents acting as the clients, in order to give me a better perspective on the design process. With only two years of architecture school under my belt, I started this summer off knowing I had a lot to learn, but I had no idea just how true that was. I found myself having to learn the details of
building sections, roof plans, wall thicknesses, construction methods, manufacturing specifications, and floor layouts, all while trying to keep the design as cost-effective as possible.
I wasn’t alone in this project, though, as I was able to trade ideas and opinions with Alex Alvarez, another architecture student at the office.

Throughout the process, Charles showed me patience and was always willing to answer any questions I had. He also invited me to sit in on a few meetings with clients and contractors so that I could get a sense of an architect’s responsibilities outside of the office. I was even given the opportunity to volunteer at this year’s Virginia Business Keynote, which allowed me to meet some of Harrisonburg’s major business owners.

In one of Charles’ recent blogs, he talks about being the person you needed when you were younger. From my experience, I would say that he’s putting that into practice, since the help and instruction he provided me this summer has given me valuable insight into the world of architecture.”

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