Journey of an Architect is a blog started by Tim Ung to document his journey to design 30 projects by the age of 30 (May 2020). His posts focus on his design process, thoughts, struggles, and successes throughout his journey.

An Architect’s most exciting day

An Architect’s most exciting day

Today, I finally received my official registration to practice in New York as an Architect! After graduating 3 years ago, I didn’t think I’d be able to complete all 7 of the examinations in a 3 year period. I constantly doubted my knowledge of each Architecture Registration Examination (ARE) section, which made it difficult for me to sign up for my first exam.

After working in an architecture firm for a year, I finally had the courage to sign up for my first ARE and I booked it for the next month. Once I received the confirmation email, I knew that I had to study for the exam and I immediately started reading through the study guides. After studying for an hour every night, I finally sat for the exam, and nervously clicked “begin”. The moment the test started, I panicked and almost forgot everything that I studied.

I stopped, took a deep breath, and started again

When I stared back at my screen and took my time reading through the first question again, I knew the right answer and immediately checked the box to move on. After repeating this again and again, I was able to make it through the section and complete the exam.

By taking one of the ARE’s, I realized that the exams weren’t as bad as other Architects made them out to be. I also stopped trying to memorize all of the information from the study guides and instead, I learned the general concepts of each section. This helped with all of the other exams and I found myself studying for only a week.

But of course, there’s bound to be failure

Once I started taking the ARE’s on a regular basis, I found the site planning and design exam to be my worse category. Even after studying over and over again, I just couldn’t grasp any of the concepts from the study guides. There was a part of my brain that just wouldn’t retain any of the information that I was reading. So I sat for this exam and walked out knowing that I failed.

How did I pick myself back up?

Everyone has that person or group of people who they talk to about everything in their life. My person is my mother.

So I immediately called her and told her about my experience with the site planning and design exam, which was very difficult to describe in simple terms in a different language, and I told her I knew that I failed. Her response started with a simple question.

“Well, what are you going to do next time?” She asked.

My response to her question doesn’t really matter. The fact that she asked me a question that made me think ahead to the future rather than sulking in the present helped me realize that there’s another chance to get it right. So I scheduled my remaining 5 exams in one night and off I went to take each section.

So after this journey to complete my licensing requirements, I now have the official certificate in hand and it’s definitely the most exciting day in my architecture career. Now, I can focus on setting and achieving my next milestones.

Back to designing my friend’s renovation project

Picking up from yesterday’s hour of designing my friend’s renovation project, I decided to focus on developing the reflected ceiling plans of the studio apartments. So I placed a gypsum wall board ceiling at 9’-0” in all of the spaces and decided to use recessed downlights throughout the apartments.

After placing a handful of downlights in the multi-purpose space, I started to space them apart and align them. Then, I placed downlights at the entry area, between the kitchen island and counter, in the bathroom, and in the area in front of the bathroom. Once all of the recessed downlights were in place, I decided to add 3 small LED pendant lights at the kitchen island as a decorative feature.

Studio Apartments Reflected Ceiling Plan with Floor Plan Underlay

Reaching the 40% conceptual design completion stage

After a week of designing my friend’s renovation project in the evenings, I’m excited to say that I’ve finally reached 40% completion of the conceptual design phase for this project. While documenting my design process of this project on Journey of an Architect, I’m happy to see the progress of the project from the existing Revit model on Monday to a complete studio apartment design on Thursday!

Thank you so much for reading and accompanying me on my journey as an Architect!


A week of traveling and sightseeing

A week of traveling and sightseeing

Designing a narrow studio apartment

Designing a narrow studio apartment