Career path to becoming a Chartered Architectural Technologist, and Fellow member of CIAT
As a precursor and for full disclosure, I am not an Architect, nor do I pretend to be one. It is a protected title and I treat it with the respect it deserves at all times. I have worked full time for sixteen years in an RIBA Chartered Architectural Practice, with a variety of roles, but have never pretended to be something that I am not.
This page is a quick summary of how I became a Chartered Architectural Technologist, a role which I am acutely aware is not recognised in the United States of America, although is in the UK, other areas of North America and further afield. I have former colleagues based in New Zealand, Canada and Japan, all with educational ties to Architectural Technology.
I'm hoping this page will provide more insight to what an Architectural Technologist is, who the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) are and the professional path to I undertook in becoming a Chartered member. I am more than happy to answer further questions on this if required.
Further Education; GNVQ Advanced (1997-1999)
My educational route in the UK took a slightly different route from the outset. I knew when I was at school that I wished to pursue a professional career in design, but at the time did not know which field to pursue. Upon leaving I made the decision to apply to a college course in Art and Design, my GCSE results ensured that I was able to skip the Intermediate level course and join at the Advanced level.
The course itself was full time, spread across two years. The first year involved rotations across four core design components, with the second year offering the ability to specialise in a given design discipline. The four areas of study were as follows;
- Three-dimensional Design
- Graphic Design
- Fine Art
The course was split across lecture time and working in the design studio. It was a great early experience prior to University in managing my own time, early exposure to deadline driven design work and working in a studio as opposed to a classroom. It gave me a good set of skills prior to applying for Higher Education courses. (I am just old enough to have experience of working on a drawing board!)
Other modules undertaken in addition to these fields included architecture, interior design, physical modelling, website design, photography, furniture design, product design, film studies and print. I'm hoping that you are able to see how some of these other influences have been incorporated either on this site or on my portfolio page. I specialised in Three-dimensional Design during my second year, so was able to work on a number of modules that had an architectural bias.
I have been lucky in professional practice of having to utilise some of these skills from time to time, whether that be for presentation, marketing, branding or business development tasks. This has afforded me great variety and flexibility in my time at CoxFreeman.
Higher Education; Undergraduate Bachelors Degree (1999-2003)
By electing to take a college course in Art and Design, in retrospect I feel I inadvertently limited my ability to be selected for a course in Architecture when the time came to apply to higher education. In my opinion Universities and Architect courses found applicants who stayed at school to undertake A Levels more desirable than those who studied full time at college on a design course. Places on Architecture courses quickly filled up, and applicants like myself without A Levels ended up on holding lists for courses.
A new course was suggested to me by one of the Universities that I applied to, in an evolving field at the time known as Architectural Technology. The course itself was titled Architectural Design Technology Production (ADTP). For context, at that time in the UK Part One students in Architecture studied under a Bachelor of Arts Degree. The ADTP course was a Bachelor of Science Degree. I still really wanted to study on an Architectural course, and without any places for the upcoming year seemingly becoming available on a BA Architecture course, this seemed like a good alternative. I wasn't willing to take a year out at this stage of my life.
Modules were shared with students on the BSc Building Surveying course, and included the following;
- Building Technology
- Construction Science
- Design and Communication in Context
- Design and Construction Processes
- Environmental Science
- Maintenance and Facilities Management
- Manufacture and Site Assembly
- Spatial Information Systems
The course is referred to in the UK as a sandwich course. In essence it was a four year course, with the third year in full time employment. I was extremely lucky to find employment on a twelve month project for a Principle Contractor, who was delivering a £32M / $53.5M 30,000 seater stadium for the local professional football club.
Although not a placement within an architectural practice, the project was a fantastic experience (and also fulfilled many of my sporting interests!) It allowed me insight into working for a contractor and experience of working on a massive construction project through the entire project lifecycle from early Civil Engineering stages through to project completion. The fact that the project was fortuitously timed to fit in to the academic year was also a welcome bonus as I was able to see the completion of the project before heading back to University to complete my studies.
I'd initially joined to help out within the Contractor's design department, but soon found myself assisting commercial teams, site agents and project planners throughout the year. The job itself offered a great variety of roles and responsibilities and put me in good stead to return to University to complete the final year. I continued to work part-time for a separate division of the same contractor during my final year, this time on an eight storey student accommodation project.
Higher Education; Masters Degree 2004
Typically architectural technology graduates seek employment at this stage however I was not yet ready to finish with my studies. I decided to investigate Masters Degree courses in Architectural Technology, and applied for a course at my home town University. In retrospect I was glad that I did.
There was some noticeable differences immediately apparent with the change in architectural school. On the ADTP course, modules studied were largely with building surveying students. Technologists were largely insulated from architectural design students. On the Masters Course I was able to share modules with architectural students. This gave me a fantastic experience and opportunity to hone skills that were perhaps not required on my Degree course. I was able to understand and appreciate a change in thought process and philosophy when approaching briefs, and the working environment on this course was set up in a more realistic fashion to what you would expect to encounter in a UK architectural practice, collaborating on projects with structural and services engineering students.
Modules studied included the following;
- Advanced Structures
- Architectural Management in Practice
- Computer Modelling and Presentation
- Environmental Design in Architecture
- Geometric Descriptive Language (GDL)
- Renewable Energy Technology
- Structures and Conservation
Another big change noted on this year was specific to software. My Degree was largely dependant on producing work in Autodesk AutoCAD, with a final year module progressing to using Autodesk Architectural Desktop for a visualisation module. The change in University also brought about a change in software, with projects being delivered using SketchUp, Graphisoft ARCHICAD and Artlantis. This opened my eyes to a better method of producing co-ordinated design information, which in no doubt influenced my eventual career progression to that of BIM Management.
Although the course duration was twelve months, I felt there was a lot of experience and personal development that has gone on to inform the work that I have produced in professional practice. Had I not opted to take this additional course I genuinely believe that I would have missed out on a number of progression opportunities as a result.
I found full time employment as an Architectural Technologist within two weeks of graduating at CoxFreeman Ltd, which is where I continue to work. After a number of years in practice I decided to progress to become a chartered member at the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists, MCIAT.
At the time I was involved mainly with concept design and administering large and complex planning applications for most projects in the practice. This evolved to visualisation work using Sketchup and Podium. All of this provided good experience and portfolio work, however with it being largely front end work did not allow me to provide the requisite practical experience for later stages of project work as part of my professional occupational performance review under the MCIAT qualification process.
As a result my progression of an application for chartered membership stalled whilst I awaited suitable projects for which to develop the experience I felt I was missing. Once I'd gained this, I prepared and submitted my MCIAT Professional Assessment, and then attended the Professional Assessment review where I was interviewed by a former President of the Institute and a Chartered Member.
So what is a Chartered Architectural Technologist?
As a Chartered Architectural Technologist MCIAT, I am qualified to offer a variety of design related services and to manage projects from their inception through to completion.
The Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists define services rendered as follows;
- Specialism in design, underpinned by building science, engineering and technology applied to architecture within projects, playing a pivotal role in project and design management;
- Design and manage all project types from small scale to large commercial, industrial, residential and public projects; they range from being sole practitioners to working in multinational and multidisciplinary practices;
- Work collaboratively with other professionals such as architects and engineers and are recognised on a par with all Chartered professionals in the built environment sector; and
- Hold a valued, respected and regulated professional qualiﬁcation and protected designation, which is transferable and recognised across borders and can only be awarded by the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists, whilst abiding by a set of professional ethics in the Institute’s Code of Professional Conduct.
A Chartered Architectural Technologist is able to undertake the following processes;
- Project Inception
- Project Planning
- Design Processes
- Contract Management
- Professional Practice
Soon after receiving my Chartered Membership to CIAT I was approached by the Directors of CoxFreeman to undertake a management role within the practice with the title of BIM Manager. This is a role I still undertake, which I try to juggle in between my responsibilities of being a project lead. More details on this role and others undertaken in practice are listed on the services page.
CIAT introduced Fellow membership to the Institute in April 2021, which I obtained as part of the first batch of Chartered Architectural Technologists. Fellow membership was awarded to me in recognition of continued excellence and distinction in the field of architectural technology. This was assessed via a written statement to the Institute and links to supplementary evidence.
I appreciate that the title of Architectural Technologist is not particularly well recognised in the United States, and hope that this page has been informative and given you detail on the role. I am more than happy to answer any further questions you may have.