Creating Generations of Licensed Architects with David Thaddeus

In this episode of the Young Architect Podcast, Michael spoke to his good friend, David Thaddeus, about his experience leaving Beirut, Lebanon to study and eventually live and work in the USA. As you listen, you’ll learn why David believes travel is extremely important for any architect’s education along with his thoughts on the ARE 5.0 plus his advice on the logical steps that every architecture student should take when preparing for their AREs.

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Professor David Thaddeus

University of North Carolina at Charlotte Professor, David Thaddeus was born in Beirut, Lebanon. He lived in Lebanon up until he finished high school and then he followed in his sister’s footsteps to move to the USA to continue his studies.

He deeply admired and looked up to his uncle who was an architect and so he was inspired to study architecture but would soon return to Beirut to study engineering at the American University of Beirut. However, he did not enjoy engineering and eventually returned to the USA to receive his M. Arch at the College of Architecture at the University of Houston.

He has taught Architectural Structures and all Levels of Architectural Design at the University of Houston and today is a professor at the School of Architecture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Not only is he a tenured professor, but he also travels all over the USA teaching seminar courses and helping students prepare for the Architecture Registration Exams.

 What You’ll Hear on This Episode

  • What it was like to live in such a cross-cultural community in Beirut, Lebanon.
  • Why he and his sister moved to the USA to continue their studies.
  • How his uncle inspired him to become an architect.
  • What led him to study and work in engineering despite not being fond of it.
  • Why he went back and forth between architecture and engineering.
  • What he loves about Lebanon and what you can see and do there.
  • The study abroad program at UNC – Charlotte and what it has to offer students.
  • Why he loves knowing all of his students’ names and how that makes a difference in class.
  • His experience teaching seminars around the USA.
  • What he thinks are the most important topics to teach including structures and preparing students for the ARE 5.0.
  • What he thinks about the ARE 5.0 exams and what he would have done differently during his exams.
  • How to study for the ARE 5.0 compared to the ARE 4.0 according to Michael.
  • His approach to studying for the ARE 5.0 and how to logically prepare for the exams.
  • The differences between ARE 4.0 and 5.0.
  • Why NCARB got rid of the vignettes in ARE 5.0.
  • How to recognize a distraction-type question on the AREs.
  • Why the studio is the best place to teach structures to students.

Top 3 Takeaways from This Episode

  1. Always be on the lookout for distraction-type questions in the AREs. These will be questions with lots of information, but then the answer is actually quite simple.
  2. Traveling is a wonderful method of learning. Not just to learn more about architecture, but about different cultures and people too.
  3. The AREs aren’t just something that helps you receive your architecture license, they can also help you in your professional career as well. Takeaway as much as you can from studying for the AREs and apply those skills to your job.

David Thaddeus’ Advice for Aspiring Architects

“You have to be passionate about whatever it is that you do. Otherwise, you feel kind of unproductive. I did not enjoy my time in engineering. I did learn a lot from it, but I really wanted to be in architecture because when you give a problem to 30 architecture students, you’re going to get 30 different answers. In engineering, you give the problem to 30 students and you better get the right answer otherwise it’s wrong.

I learn a lot more from my architecture students than I teach them. That’s what really keeps me going. I love the creativity that comes from the architecture student; it’s just wonderful. Passion is the biggest thing. If you’re not in architecture for the right reasons, then there’s just no point in being in it at all. Whatever your passion is, if you follow it, you’ll be great at it.”

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Favorite Quotes

“As an architect, traveling is really important and it truly opened my mind up to architecture and being creative versus engineering and doing everything by the book. Travel is very important for an architect. Go out and see the world. See how other people live and learn about their culture.” – David Thaddeus on the power of travel.

“What I enjoy most is getting to know my students. Whether they’re college or seminar students, I make sure to take the time to know who they are by taking their picture and learning their names. I think it’s really important to do that because it makes all of us more comfortable and they don’t just feel like a number.” – David Thaddeus on how he connects with his students.

“Between ARE 4.0 and 5.0, NCARB expanded heavily on all of the professional practice exams into three exams and then consolidated all of the technical exams into the last two exams. So, students are putting all of their energy and focus into studying structures for a long length of time before moving on to building systems or codes. Even though the exam changed, people have not changed their approaching to studying for the AREs.” – Michael Riscica on how students are studying for the ARE 5.0.

think the best part of the ARE 5.0 are the case studies because those situations are real. Studying for and learning from the AREs for your professional life is very productive for your career. Having a license is important but try to learn from the AREs and get something from it. That way, the entire experience is much more beneficial for you.” – David Thaddeus on how to make the most out of the AREs.

“NCARB is a huge fan of the distraction-type question where you’re given a ton of information and then asked a very simple question. I also like to remind people that case studies are an excellent way to distract you. You can really get caught up in all the information included in a case study, but it’s really about knowing how to use the information and find the right answer.” – Michael Riscica on how to be smart about distracting questions on the AREs.

Resources Mentioned in the Show




Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect, Founder and Head Coach of the ARE Boot Camp Coaching Program & Online Study Group.

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