Evolving as an Architect with Michael LaValley

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This week the Young Architect Podcast chatted with our good friend Michael LaValley from the popular architecture website EvolvingArchitect.com

Architect Michael LaValley from Evolving Architect

Michael LaValley is the  mastermind behind the website and blog, Evolving Architect. Michael also participates in the American Institute of Architects chapter (AIA) as both the Director for the Buffalo/WNY Chapter of the AIA and Co-Chair of the Emerging Professionals Committee.

With Michael, you can always learn a valuable lesson in architecture and professionalism by reading his blog or simply listening to him speak. As you tune in to this episode, you will learn that anything is possible if you put enough dedication and passion into it.

Michael’s love for teaching began while he was volunteering to teach a 10-week class to 4th grade students and participating in Habitat for Humanity between taking the AREs. According to Michael, learning is a never-ending experience and mentorship is what helps us all to become who we are meant to be.

As part of his role in AIA, Michael’s Emerging Professionals Committee works hard to ensure that young, aspiring architects are able to receive the support and knowledge they need to help them with the AREs and beyond. If you’re looking for the opportunity to learn and build your career, Michael is one of the best sources for personal insight.

What’s next for Michael and Evolving Architect? As we move forward into 2017, Michael is looking forward to the possibility of teaching his own courses, creating audio and/or video podcasts, and continuing writing to help people with their careers as architects.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode

  • From a young age, Michael wanted to be an architect and how nothing, not even failing the exams would stop him from reaching his goal.
  • Why Michael decided to become an architect rather than an engineer.
  • How his website, Evolving Architect, began and what the inspiration was behind it.
  • Michael’s personal decision to stay in the Buffalo, New York after graduation even though he could have begun his career in a different place.
  • How Michael built up his resume by entering design competitions and doing community service before taking his AREs.
  • Michael’s experience taking the exams and failing, but never giving up on his goal to become an architect.
  • Why there’s no rush to pass the exams or rush into anything for that matter. The reason behind why it’s good to take your time and understand that some things won’t go as planned.
  • How a variety of different experiences will actually help you prepare for the exams and help you feel more confident.
  • The benefits of volunteering to help you not only connect with others, but grow your career as well.
  • What AIA in the Buffalo, NY region has been doing to help young architects by providing resources and support.
  • The architects who have mentored and been an inspiration to Michael.

Key Takeaways From This Episode with Michael LaValley

  • Taking the AREs is just part of the process to becoming an architect. Just like school, entering design competitions, and getting experience, the AREs are just something we have to experience to become professional architects. It’s okay if you fail and have to keep trying because it will help you get to where you want to be as an architect.
  • We’re all connected as architects. We teach each other, we learn from one another, and we’re always growing to become better architects than what we were before. We have an active community of architects that are always here to help you.
  • Not only is volunteering a wonderful experience to help other people, but you will also learn more about yourself and grow your career.

Top Quotes

“After I went to school, I realized that I wanted to become an architect and I knew that I had to get my license. Even though I had failed the first set of exams, I knew that I had to get right back in it to pass all seven exams the next time.” – Michael LaValley on wanting to become an architect and his experience with taking the AREs.

“I think that failing the exams helped to solidify it for me that I really wanted to become an architect. If I had been another person, I probably would have just let the exams slide for another year or two and eventually just let go. But failing actually did the opposite for me. I knew that I had to do everything to make sure that I passed each exam. – Michael LaValley on not giving up on passing the AREs.

“In some ways, failing your first exams is probably the best time to fail an exam because you don’t know what you’re signed up for and what’s really entailed in these things. I’ve always believed that you really only fail if you’ve just decided that you’re giving up.”- Michael Riscica on the AREs.

“There’s definitely a very active community of architects that want to help each other and I just want to be a part of that.” -Michael LaValley on what’s inspired him to teach via Evolving Architect

“I think it’s important for people to get involved in community service. By involving yourself in the things that you’re most interested in, they can actually help your career grow.” – Michael LaValley on why volunteering and community service is so beneficial for the career of an architect.

“Mentorship is beneficial for everyone. In fact, it’s helped me to become an even better architect.” – Michael LaValley on the power of mentorship

Michael’s Advice for Young, Aspiring Architects

“Try to figure out who you are as fast as you can. Do that by experimenting and trying different things. Whether you fail or succeed, you can sort of help your career go in whatever direction you need it to go.  I don’t think there’s a one size fits all for architecture careers. Just ask yourself, ‘Where do you want to end up at?’ And you don’t have to end up where everybody says you should be; it’s just about finding out what you want to do as soon you can by testing things and try to figure out where you want to go.” – Michael LaValley

Resources Mentioned in the Show

About the author

Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect who lives in beautiful Portland, Oregon, with his Labrador Retriever. He is passionate about helping Young Architects change the world. In his free time, Michael likes to take very long bicycle rides across America. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linked In. Also check out his new project Young Architect Gear, designing architecturally themed gifts and products.

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