Studying for the ARE with Ben Norkin from Hyperfine

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Hyperfine ArchitectureBen Norkin ArchitectureBen Norkin joins the Young Architect Podcast for this episode to talk about his ARE study courses, how teaching courses has changed his life, and what it’s like moving into self-employment as an architect.  

Hyperfine Architecture, Ben Norkin Architecture | Ben Norkin 

Ben Norkin didn’t plan on becoming an architect, and he definitely didn’t know that he would be teaching ARE classes to architecture students. But if Ben’s story shows anything, it’s that it’s all right not to know which path you belong on right away. It’s OK to take time and find the right path. 

Ben was in ROTC while he attended college at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  He joined the Navy directly out of college. He was an active-duty officer in the Navy for six and a half years.  

After leaving the Navy in 2010, Ben knew that he had to find a new path. His first idea was to become a financial planner. However, Ben wanted to do something more creative. At the same time, he was also interested in doing something technical. Architecture seemed like the perfect blend of those two factors.  

Ben studied architecture at the Catholic University of America, enrolling in their M.Arch3 program — a three-year program for students who had an undergraduate degree not related to architecture. Post-graduate school, Ben took a job at a small residential firm.  

After almost four years of working in his first post-graduate job, he left the job to join a new project that eventually fell through. He started a new job but found it stressful and a poor fit for him, so in August of last year, Ben quit in order to go into business for himself. He now runs Ben Norkin Architecture as well as teaching courses on Hyperfine 

What You’ll Hear on This Episode  

  • What inspired him to get into architecture.
  • Ben’s path from the Navy into architecture and why he chose architecture over financial planning. 
  • Ben’s experience in architecture school and why he’d love to go back again. 
  • What Ben thinks about the Masters programs for unrelated degrees. 
  • Ben’s first job after graduation. 
  • Current projects that Ben is working on. 
  • What happened between January and July that led to Ben Norkin Architecture 
  • Why architecture isn’t a 9-5 job 
  • How Ben got started with making ARE preparation videos and teaching materials 
  • What’s involved in Ben’s courses. 
  • The cost of Ben’s Hyperfine courses and why he keeps his prices low. 
  • How his courses have changed Ben’s life.  
  • Courses that Ben is planning for 2019. 
  • What projects Ben has coming up for Ben Norkin Architecture in 2019. 
  • Traveling that Ben did while in the Navy. 
  • The difference between what architects want to see while traveling and what you see while traveling with the military. 
  • Ben’s experience traveling in the United States. 
  • Things that Ben knew today that he didn’t know before.  
  • One book that changed everything for Ben 
  • Why Ben’s favorite resources are 3×5 index cards 
  • Ben’s favorite Revit shortcuts 
  • Ben’s Revit course 

Top 3 Takeaways from This Episode  

  1. Not everyone knows what they want to do with the rest of their lives, and it’s OK to try different things before deciding what your goals in life may be. 
  2. Once you do identify a goal, it’s important to make working toward that goal a priority in everything that you do as you move forward in your professional life. 
  3. Doing what you have to do to achieve your goals can seem risky. However, risks are sometimes necessary in order to reach the place that you want to be. 

Ben Norkin’sAdvice for Aspiring Architects 

“I would say maybe two conflicting things. The first is it’s OK if you don’t know what you want to do. I think if you look at people who are maybe my parents’ age or a generation ahead, they seem to have lots of careers and do lots of different things over the course of their life, so if you can look at yourself now with sort of that lens, things might seem less critical, things can slow down for you. But at the same time, if you have your goals and you know what you want to do, then you should work directly towards them and every action you take should directly go to that goal. And I don’t mean, in your entire life, you can have free time and time off, but in your professional life, you should not be working sideways. You should figure out what your goal is, whether that’s self-employment or a different project type or a specific salary or whatever your professional goal is, and every action you should take should be moving you in that direction, and if it’s not for a day or for a week, then you need to figure out how to make sure you’re working directly toward what you want.” 

Favorite Quotes 

“I’m really inefficient between noon and 2pm – I don’t work that well. But I can work really well between 11pm and 1am you know? So, if you look at a set of construction documents that are printed out, you have no idea when those were done.” — Ben Norkin on why architecture isn’t a 9-5 job 

“What I think that the best studying that I got that got me toward passing the exams was the questions that I asked for myself when I was sitting at my desk.” – Ben Norkin on how he creates his study courses 

“It’s not an affordable thing to go through this process. I might raise it a little bit in 2019, but my goal is just to make it something people can get and not have to think twice about it and get a good quality product.” –Ben Norkin on why he keeps his course products affordable 

“When you quit your job and you have a mortgage and you have two kids, it’s scary in two weeks when that next paycheck doesn’t come up. And so, I’m not retiring off of this, but it’s literally paid my mortgage for the last couple months, in-between basically when I quit my job and when I started getting some clients from Ben Norkin Architecture, so it’s enough. – Ben Norkin on how his courses have changed his life. 

“This book that I read sort of at just the right time is directly related to where I’m at right now.” –Ben Norkin on the book Essentialism by Greg Mckeown 

“A lot of times I didn’t even go back and read the flash card, but just the act of making it and thinking critically about a subject and writing it down on a flash card is perfect.” –Ben Norkin on why index cards are the best resource 

Resources Mentioned in the Show 

Ben Norkin Architecture
Email Ben at
Or at
Message Ben on Linkedin
Essentialism by Greg McKeown 


Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect, and the creator of Young Architect, an online platform and community dedicated to helping the next generation of Architects become the most successful generation of Architects. 
Connect: Linkedin / Facebook / Instagram

Hi there!

I’m Michael Riscica, the guy behind Young Architect. I write to help Architecture Students, ARE Candidates and Young Architecture Professionals be more successful at school, work and life!


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