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Inside Job: Life as an Architect

Rachel Bachrach

Everyone knows you need an aptitude for math and a sense of interior design to make it as an architect. But did you know public speaking and psychology are also par for the course? These women share what it’s like as they take you back to the drawing board.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Rivky Fertel, 35, is an architect at Clemens Pantuso Architecture in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. She’s been working as an architect for 13 years.   People think we spend all day drawing plans, but what we’re really doing is communicating an idea, either visually — through drawings, models, and images; or with words — in written specs, presentations, and meetings. We have to paint the picture so the client can visualize it and the construction team can price and build it.   I became an architect because I love to draw, I’m naturally curious, and I’m a good student. My parents encouraged me to do something I’d enjoy, and architecture seemed like a good fit. I also thought it had the potential to be family friendly if I were to be a solo practitioner — I’m still getting there.   I wish clients knew how much aggravation and money they could save by involving an architect early in the project and keeping them involved through construction. I know many people have limited budgets and large families, but when a contractor just builds, clients can be disappointed with the results. Sometimes people say, “Just give me those drawings and I’ll go find a contractor.” But an architect helps administer the contract, which protects you because the contractor will come to the architect with questions and he won’t cut corners.   My favorite piece of equipment is a pencil, tracing paper, and an architectural scale — all portable, and pretty much all I need to get an early design idea sorted out.

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