My Interview with Peter Elliott, Architect

by Aidan P.

When I grow up I want to be a professional architect, so I interviewed one.  His name is Peter Elliott and he specializes in green design.  His answers to my questions are actually very interesting.  This is my interview for the WHEN issue.

Are you proud to be an architect? Yes, very.  You get respect wherever you go.

What do you like about being an architect?  Solving problems. They can be small ones like what direction a door should swing or large ones, such as how a buiding should be placed on a site.  Architects have a unique way of solving problems. You are constantly zooming in to the details and then zooming out to look at the big picture.

What do you do in a day? A variety of tasks, like designing a floor plan, researching the best materials to use, or driving to the construction site to see how the builders are doing.  Every day is different and you are always learning new things which makes it fun.

Does your job involve traveling? Yes, every week.  Mostly local travel though. Today I met with a Mayor of a city about 25 miles away to discuss an idea on how to improve his downtown.

What type of education do you need to be an architect? A five-year professional degree called Bachelor of Architecture.  You can also major in another area and then pursue a Master of Architecture in 3 1/2 years, which is what I did.  You then have a 3-year internship in an Architecture firm before you can take the Architects Registration Exam (ARE).  It’s a long road, but the education is fun. You do a lot of drawings, build models and discuss design.

What types of projects do you work on? I am a specialist in schools which is great. You get to do all kinds of projects like dining rooms, theaters, gyms, swimming pools, hockey rinks and libraries.  Teachers and principals are great to work with as they only want what is best for the students.  I am also working on an apartment building, a bank and a country club. I specialize in Green design.

Who do you work with?  I have my own firm, so I work primarily alone, but I also consult and do work with other architecture firms, currently a firm in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Where are most of your jobs located? In the tri-state region – New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but I have worked as far away as Boston and Maryland.

Do you have a supervisor position? My position is Project Manager. I am the first contact with the client and oversee the job from beginning to end. I supervise a project architect who is in charge with putting together the construction drawings and below the project architect are several junior architects working on a project.  There is also a project designer who picks the colors and materials for the project.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?  Coming up with a great design that makes the client happy and looks cool too! It’s also rewarding helping younger architects learn the profession.

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