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Today’s post  is the 27th post in a group series called #ArchiTalks (leads by Bob Borson) in which a group of us architects write about the same topic on the same day and share each other’s posts. This month’s theme is “Mentorship”. Topic lead by Michael La Valley.


This is the first #ArchiTalks’ post that I write and, first of all, I want to say that I’m glad to be part of this.

Historically, young aspiring architects worked in the atelier of an experienced architect, learning by doing. Each architect-builder selected a bright young man as apprentice. Over the years, working together, the apprentice would learn all the master had to share. He might even surpass him.

When I graduated with my Master Degree in Architecture in 2005, I would had liked to apply for the Leonardo Da Vinci.

Mentorship in architecture #ArchiTalks
For those who don’t know it’s a UE’s project for international workplacements designed for recent graduates, who want to develop a working experience abroad in a professional context for a limited period of time. The aim of the project is to encourage young who look for employment opportunities and increasing the mobility of workers across Europe. The focus lies on offering qualified support through a dedicated mentoring network to recent graduates who are approaching to work. It’s a way to advising and training young architect with less experiences to help them develop in their work.

If you apply for the project, and you are selected, UE gives you a grant as a contribution to travel and subsistence costs but obviously that’s not enough.

So first I needed money to start this my new-life-plan, therefore I looked for work and my life as an architect began.

I started to work in a small designing studio and I’m still here, as associate. I’ve never applied for the Leonardo Da Vinci

Although I have never joined any official mentoring program, I believe that all of us, in our lives have, or have had,  a guide.  It could be a parent, a relative, a class-teacher, a friend or a senior person in your workplace. We all have people who help us to reach our goals, a lots of mentors, not just one.  In fact, the mentorship relationships are often informal and casual. There is always something to learn from someone if you are willing to learn. No matter what level of skill you start at, you always need help and advice along the way.

I have had lots of mentors throughout my young career. I started working – for free – in an architecture studio when I was at the High School, during the Summer breaks. Even though I was only a teenager – who basically only  draw and did copies – I had the chance to see “how thing works”.  I also had a work experience at the local Ufficio Lavori Pubblici (Office of Public Works) where the architect in charge brought me into construction sites with him.

At the Faculty of Architecture in Genoa I can mention a few professors which mentored me (Pietro Carlo Pellegrini, Massimo Corradi, B. Paolo Torsello, Bruno Gabrielli, who sadly passed away two years ago)

When I started studying buildings design at the High School – in the ’90s – Designing projects using drafting tables still was the normality.

Mentorship in architecture #ArchiTalks Rapidographs, tracing paper and razor blades were our best friends! Just a few used Autocad.
I remember that there was an optional course for those students who wanted to learn the computer aided design.

When I was studying at the University only students drew boards by hand, and because they MUST learn drawing, but nobody used drafting tables anymore. Architects still sketching a lot, of course, so we need tracing paper and pen yet… but Autocad, Plotters, Photoshop, 3D Studio Max were “the architect’s tools”
Now  the preparation of design drawings has been revolutionised again by the emergence of BIM.

Having mentors to learn from is important to profession development. Senior and young architects both need each other, they have to learn from each other. Developing design projects, we create the right context for an exchange of abilities between different generations. Our profession is dynamic, the technology and the tools we use are in changing and all is recognizably different from years ago.


Follow the links to the others in the #ArchiTalks group who are posting about “Mentorship”

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
This is NOT Mentorship

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
ArchiTalks: Mentorship

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Mentors, Millennials and the Boomer Cliff

Mark R. LePage – EntreArchitect (@EntreArchitect)

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
ArchiTalks: Mentorship

Collier Ward – One More Story (@BuildingContent)

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
teach them the way they should go: #architalks

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Bad Mentor, Good Mentor

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
The Top 3 Benefits for Architects to Mentor and to be Mentored

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
I’ve got a lot to learn

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Gurus, Swamis, and Other Architectural Guides

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
The Lonely Mentor

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Advice From My Mentor

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Mentoring with Anecdotes vs. Creating a Culture of Trust

Samantha R. Markham – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Why every Aspiring Architect needs SCARs

Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Mentorship : mend or end ?

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Mentor5hip is…

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
My Mentor

Tim Ung – Journey of an Architect (@timothy_ung)
5 Mentors that are in my life

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)

Gabriela Baierle-Atwood – Gabriela Baierle-Atwood (@gabrielabaierle)
On Mentorship

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
mentor was on the odyssey


  • markdstephens

    Welcome to Architalks, I’m fairly new here and a fellow European!

    • Hi! Thanks! I find this exchanging of information and experiences particularly interesting I am very curious in how things works for architects outside of Italy.

  • Lora

    Great first post, Ilaria!

    • Thanks Lora, also for adding me to the group!

  • Three cheers for Rapidographs!

    • I always remember them with a sort of nostalgia!

  • Be a mentor, or at least be a guide. Good thoughts…and I still use traditional tools during schematic design!

    • Thanks! Sorry for the very late answer. I’m very busy right now. Upcoming deadlines before finally get some rest. August means vacations in Italy. The 15th of August in particular is synonyms of summer break here. Actually it marks the beginning of Italy’s summer holiday period since the Romans time! That day is called Ferragosto (from the latin “feriae Augusti” which means “Augustus’ rest”)

      I’ve added your post to the list..
      See you