At last, a Turkish architect has provided what the world has always lacked: a website of scrutiny, transparency, and truth — about working at a major architectural firm, that is. Under the clever moniker ArchLeaks (and the perplexing subhead "Reveals the Hidden Beneath the Studios"), Sedat Bayrak, the Julian Assange-to-be behind the site reveals... not that much. The whole thing reads more like Rate My Professor than WikiLeaks, which is great, since the general consensus these days is that architecture school is the new English major (not even Diller Scofidio+Renfro recommend going).
The anonymous commenters on this site, seemingly recruited via Twitter, report that they endure long, thankless hours and tyrannical bosses for little pay (as journalists, we cannot possibly relate). That said, a few comments are worthwhile — did you know, for example, that the average starting salary rivals what one would making working at McDonalds? Or that Rogers Stirk is a “very enjoyable gent”? For your benefit, we round-up the most interesting details, offering our own analysis. [sic throughout — if only they really were English majors... ]
FOSTER + PARTNERS
working for Fosters is like working for the nazis, I got into architecture to make a better living environment for humanity instead I am witnessing corruption on a daily basis.
An average salary of £34K after working there more than 5 years, so your income is actually lower than people working in McDonald’s if you average out your salary with the actual working hours […] Factory working environment and extremely political place to work in.
Lesson learned: Nazi guy: what you lack in grammar and punctuation, you severely overcompensate for in hyperbole. Have you considered pursuing poetry, or better yet, a career in fast food?
Zaha Hadid ARCHITECTS
Zaha loves communication via Tannoy [a public address system — not a city in Vietnam] at the office. Just so everyone knows what mistake you’ve made in that drawing and when you were five minutes late.
Not inspiring because Zaha herself doesn’t take part in anymore.
I think she is a sculptor. All of her designs are so different from the context – no relation with the city.
Lesson learned: The architects are feeling genuinely let down from the big boss's lack of enthusiasm. Also, Zaha's internationally known, and she will totally rock you on the microphone.
DAVID CHIPPERFIELD ARCHITECTS
A school winning the Stirling Prize would be “like cleaning ladies getting MBEs”. Sir David Chipperfield
Lesson learned: This is a zing on Zaha Hadid getting the Stirling Prize this year for London's Evelyn Grace Academy — and on cleaning ladies! In this case, anonymous commenter, we're with you. Your boss is a total prick.
OFFICE OF METROPOLITAN ARCHITECTURE
... he was so underpaid that he had to rent an apartment in a block full of heroin addicts, but he later found out it was not such a bad choice…he had to sleep at the office even during weekends, so he rarely staid in his flat.
Lesson learned: Think of all the money he saved on cabs. And heroin.
Usual shitty/diva attitude towards employees. Not a friendly or cool working environment either. I guess that’s what happens when you put ten underpaid, overworked young architects in an office and wait for a miracle to happen.
Working here ruined my career. I work as a social worker now. Make of that what you will
Lesson learned: We're not sure what to make of that, Social Worker, but we hope that somewhere, you're working with young at-risk architects.
PENOYRE & PRASAD LLP
Morale is at an all-time low. Staff are being cut and even the communal fruit bowl has been cancelled. Mean.
Lesson learned: Bring your own banana. And your binky, you huge baby.
it is physically impossible to fit any more people into the office!
Lesson learned: Sounds like a design problem. But you'd probably free up some more space if you shut your yap.
ROGERS STIRK HARBOURS + PARTNERS
I work for a practice who plays RSHP in Softball every summer, he comes along to play in his multi-coloured outfits and stays for a beer afterwards. Very enjoyable gent.
Lesson learned: We're not sure which RSHP partner you're referring to, but we're going to assume the clown.