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Central St Martins and RIBA launch student mentoring scheme

This week saw the introduction of a new scheme aimed at better preparing part one architecture students for work in practice

The mentoring programme sees Central St Martins students in the final year of their part one matched up in pairs with architect mentors. The scheme aims to offer an important insight into practice life and the work of architects today.

Students will meet their mentors on three occasions until January 2013. These may include time in the architect’s studio, attending site visits or shadowing meetings.

The programme launched with an informal Pecha Kucha event, with each participating practice given two minutes to pitch themselves to the student body, before students were given the chance to meet their mentors.

In his pitch Paul Crosby of Martha Schwartz Partners offered encouragement to the undergraduate students, saying: ‘You are entering the profession at a really exciting time.’

The practices involved range from small practices, with just four people, to large practices such as Stantec which employs 1,450 architects.

The RIBA said they were ‘pleasantly surprised’ by the amount of interest in the scheme. They had to turn practices away, after having an unprecedented large response.

Stanton Williams’ Larissa Johnston highlighted why the practice was so interested in becoming involved with the scheme: ‘We all jumped  at the chance to be involved. It’s a nice opportunity for us as well as the students. We get to go out of the office and engage with fresh new talent. Hopefully it will be really fun for both them and us.’

Emmett O’Sullivan of Architecture and Urbanism Studio said: ‘It’s a really great opportunity to help the students gain experience and knowledge. When I was studying I had a mentor and it was a vital and valuable part of my education. This is a chance for me to give back to the students and support those starting out in our profession.’

Arita Morris of Child Graddon Lewis praised the scheme, saying: ‘It is really important for students to get an idea of what practice is like. I remember my first day of work – I was really angry – It felt like everything I had learned was useless. I couldn’t see how what I had studied related to practice. Hopefully we can help the students to see the links between practice and what they are learning about, and it won’t be too much of a shock for them when they start their year out.’

Rory Pennant-Rea of Studio AR heralded the scheme as a ‘fantastic opportunity for students to get an idea of what working in practice is like.’ He added that he was going to show his students ‘the boring bits as well as the fun stuff’.

This scheme is not necessarily unique in its format; there are a number of schools across the UK encouraging links between education and practice, and the RIBA have been running their own mentoring schemes across the regions for a number of years. But what is impressive about this particular scheme is the calibre of the practices involved, and the opportunities this could offer to students at Central St Martins. From small practices to large practices, Stirling and Stephen Lawrence Prize winners, architects are concerned about the future of the profession, and this programme shows that they will jump at the chance to support and nurture the young talent entering it.

Full list of participating practices

  • 3DReid
  • Alma-nac
  • Architecture and Urbanism Studio
  • Child Graddon Lewis
  • Conran and Partners
  • David Morley Architects
  • Duggan Morris Architects
  • Farrells
  • Haworth Tompkins
  • Henley Halebrown Rorrison
  • HLM
  • Jeff Kahane and Associates
  • John Cooper Architecture
  • Martha Schwartz Partners
  • Michaelis Boyd Associates
  • Nick Willson Architects
  • Sanya Polescuk Architects
  • Stantec
  • Stanton Williams
  • StudioAR
  • Studio Meda
  • Swanke Hayden Connell
  • Woods Baggot

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