Featured article in AWARD Magazine, October 2015, Volume 23, Number 5. Click here for PDF, courtesy of Award magazine.
A New Voice for Emerging Architects
A team of intern architects from across the country is working to create the first national organization for architectural interns and other emerging practitioners in Canada. The goal is to form an identity, support one another, share information and resources, and create a stronger connection to the profession. There are 3,400 interns or intern architects in Canada. This number does not include other emerging professionals such as architecture students, syllabus students, individuals pursuing certification through the Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect (BEFA) program, and recently registered architects.
Intern architects often feel disassociated from the profession, as if in limbo between the academic world and the professional world. Common concerns include lack of study material and support for the architecture licensing and registration examination known as ExAC. They also include gaining the required work experience; mentorship; a lack of voice and identity; and being prepared for the transition between school and professional practice.
Rachelle Lemieux, the director representing interns and intern architects on the board of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC), is familiar with these issues and wondered about a solution. She decided to invite intern representatives from all 11 provincial and territorial architectural associations to meet last May in Winnipeg at the RAIC Festival of Architecture to discuss working together.
The meeting was facilitated by a national task force established by the Canadian Architectural Licensing Authorities (CALA) to examine ways to improve its Internship in Architecture Program. The program governs the path to licensure.
It was the first time the intern representatives met in person. They soon discovered that they shared similar concerns, ideas and aspirations, regardless of where they lived and worked. What came out of the discussions was that, more than anything, interns feel disenfranchised and disconnected – to the profession and each other. They emerged from the meeting as a cohesive network of motivated interns who were passionate about intern issues.
The next step took place a few months later in September 2014. Five members of the group participated in a conference held by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board in Saint-Sauveur, Quebec, on the theme Educating Future Architects. The conference reviewed how architectural education is adapting and anticipating changes in the discipline and the profession.
Through participation in the sessions and discussions, it became clear that practitioners, educators, regulators and interns alike share A New Voice For Emerging Architects Organizers of RAIC Emerging Practitioners: Wai Yan Leung and Sara Kasaei – B.C. Jan Kroman and Kurtis Nishiyama – Alberta Brad Pickard and Brenda Dale McLean – Saskatchewan Lindsay Salter and Tyler Loewen – Manitoba Austin Durbin and Remi Rousselle – New Brunswick Beth Macleod and Michael Cook – Nova Scotia Shallyn Murray and Lukas Bergmark – Prince Edward Island Jeremy Bryant – Newfoundland Afsaneh Asayesh – Ontario Ksenia Eic – Northwest Territories Alexandre Hamlyn and Marie- Ange Adousso – Quebec Rachelle Lemieux – National many of the same concerns and even opinions on how to address these concerns. One of the ideas that came up and received strong support from all parties was the creation of a national intern organization.
The group of intern representatives decided to go forward. They applied to the RAIC Foundation for seed money and received $5,000 at the 2015 RAIC Festival in Calgary.
Also at the Festival, the board of the RAIC agreed to support a national intern organization in association with the RAIC. The board designated two members to act as a liaison and work with the group in framing the organization as well as its position within the RAIC.
The intern group held its second annual meeting at the 2015 RAIC Festival. It decided to name the organization RAIC Emerging Practitioners. Some of the group members presented a sold-out seminar at the 2015 Festival called Interns in Practice: Integration as the Key to Shared Success. It addressed issues faced by interns and the profession and sparked a lively discussion among professionals, regulators, educators, students and interns.
Recent activities include the creation of a Facebook page called INTERNetwork where information and resources for intern architects are posted. The next step is to reach out to interns across the country for feedback and to get involved. There are many exciting opportunities ahead for the RAIC Emerging Practitioners (formalization pending), and the group can’t wait to help pave the way for Canada’s next generation of architects.