A View from the Top: Principal at Architecture Firm
Raun first became interested in architecture at Bryn Mawr college. She had trouble selecting one discrete discipline, since nearly every subject piqued her interest. She ended up choosing an interdepartmental major called "The Growth and Structure of Cities,"the educational requirements of which included some architectural and urban history classes. In addition, she enrolled in an extracurricular class on weekends taught by a graduate of the Yale architecture school. Inspired by this course, Raun sought a job in the architectural field after college, and ended up working for architects for two years in New York. Working in the industry further solidified Raun's feeling that architecture was for her, since it incorporated all her diverse interests. After receiving her masters in architecture, Raun held several different positions, including freelance work, which led her, along with her husband, to open their own business. The major benefit of her job, she says, is "doing something you love and getting paid for it." But pay, as compared to other similarly degreed professions, is low.
A major focus for Tichenor and Thorp, working in the residential arena, is keeping work flow manageable so all clients have access to a principal. Raun and Brian have made a concerted effort to keep the firm relatively small and personal as opposed to expanding into a larger, corporate environment. Their goal is to concentrate on sound architectural detailing and superior service for clients and projects. Raun's favorite aspects of her job are the details involved in design work, but she is committed to being involved in all aspects of a project, which sometimes means firmly concentrating on one project as opposed to participating in many. Her least favorite parts of the job are dealing with personnel issues and difficult clients.
With a wealth of experience in the architectural field, Raun has the following advice for aspiring architects:
1) Only become an architect if you love it, and be prepared to work very hard.
2) Hone your drawing skills. Nothing communicates better than a good sketch, and unfortunately too many schools aren't really teaching this skill anymore.
3) Learn your architectural history. This is another area that schools seem to neglect.
4) Make sure you have good, or at least sufficient, writing skills. Know your grammar, spelling and punctuation.
5) Travel. Photograph and sketch. Develop your interest in things other than just architecture. Everything you do and read will enrich your work.