Reflection on the Pursuit of Professional Architectural Identity




Spencer, Bobbi J.

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Architecture incorporates art and science with the discipline, skills, and theoretical grounding that enable an architect to produce a structure that creatively joins the requirements of the client, culture, time period, location, materials, and technology. An architectural education program has the intention to prepare a student through creative exploration of the discipline’s knowledge and skills to assist their transition to the professional career of architecture. As students enter their studies, they are entering a community of practice (CoP), as coined by Lave and Wenger (1991), where individual, cultural, academic, and professional components of a work and learning community are joined in a continually evolving loop of action, learning, and reflection that affect each other. This training, however, would be missing the greater mission of architecture and its impact on society at large if the curriculum did not challenge students to reach beyond their own cultural experiences, neighborhoods, and cities. These personal perspectives are but elementary components woven into the training students receive as they hone their design skills during their architectural studios. As limited as their cultural foundation might be, traveling to expand their experience and knowledge is an intrinsic component of architectural education. Thus, this research explores the underlying elements that define what is known as the architectural profession, the acquisition of professional identity and creative abilities, and the common themes formed by the complex relationships and historic practices of the architectural CoP by analyzing the participants’ reflections of their study abroad experience. This focus on the professional identity is important in today’s time, because this definition, understood for centuries, is now being questioned.



Professional identity, Architectural, Study abroad, Creativity


Spencer, B. J. (2017). <i>Reflection on the pursuit of professional architectural identity</i> (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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