The final hurdle to becoming an architect should be inspiring but is actually just a frustrating slog, writes BD’s - formerly student - columnist

Eleanor Jolliffe

The overwhelming feeling on receiving my part III results and Arb certificate was of anti-climax. I don’t know why this surprised me, but it did.

This moment, nine years of my life in the making, passed largely unremarked with a high percentage of friends and family responding with, “Well, I thought you already were” when given the “architect” news.

This column has been delayed in the writing because, though I passed and registered last year, it has taken until now for the anti-climax and disbelief to pass and relief to set in. A weight has been lifted from my evenings and weekends that I hadn’t noticed was even there. The better part of a decade of higher education deadlines will do that to you, I suppose.

I’m not quite sure why – perhaps because I had been moving towards this point since I was about 15 – but a part of me somehow believed that by the time I had achieved this distant feat of professional qualification I would somehow know “all the things”. Sadly this is not the case. You are, of course, the same person before you enter the Arb register and after, albeit with a few more letters after your name.

Part III itself was enormously helpful and I am certain I became more useful around the office as the foundation of my architectural education was broadened to include the basics of job running and practice management. I am aware of still knowing few of the answers but I am much more aware of which questions need to be asked.

Despite this professional boost, part III felt archaic and disjointed – a box-ticking exercise of all the content not quite glamorous enough to be included on the syllabus of parts I or II, but necessary in the irritatingly practical daily reality of practice life.

For me, part III was something to get out of the way rather than relish – and I know I am not alone in that. But how sad! I have largely enjoyed my overlong university education and I would have much preferred to be inspired rather than frustrated by my last compulsory experience of it.

One of my most pressing thoughts on completing part III has been that the challenge I placed before myself at 18 has been conquered. But what now? Is the “9-5” all? I’ve clearly become institutionalised as I cannot imagine a life in which I am not a registered student. In common with many of my friends, I barely allowed myself to believe I would pass, let alone forecast a future beyond (in spite of the five-year career plan we were required to submit).

Part III is annoying and hard work. I never wanted to read The Architect in Practice on the Tube or to spend my free time analysing and writing about whether or not the project I spent my working week on was well run. But I did, and the feeling on the other side is worth it (once the shock wore off). To anyone putting off part III “until next year”: Do it. Now.

This is not the largest or last professional mountain I will scale but I am enjoying the view at the moment, mapping the onward path – but mostly pausing to enjoy the view!