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All you need to know about a career as an architect

From churches to colleges and schools, Ranjit P John has been following his passion and seeing his sketches translate to real, solid structures

education Updated: May 20, 2016 13:15 IST
Rozelle Laha
Rozelle Laha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
BArch,architect,career counselling
Imagine every creation before you create it, says architect Ranjit P John. (Sanchit Khanna)

As a schoolboy, Ranjit P John was captivated by the magnificence of old traditionally constructed buildings in Kerala, which included old churches and his own alma mater, St Berchmans College. Later, making career plans, he decided there was nothing better in life than designing buildings..

Talking to engineer friends and family members about his passion, John was advised to pursue a full-fledged graduate course in architecture. After completing his pre-degree course (Class 12 equivalent) from St Berchmans High School, he moved to Delhi in 1974, joining Gandhi-Mehta and Associates, an architectural firm in the city, as a drafting assistant and simultaneously started preparing for the entrance exam of the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), New Delhi.

John had also signed up for sketching classes to hone his skills in drawing, an important component of the entrance exam at SPA. “We were, in the test, supposed to make free hand sketches of various objects in different shades of light. This was done to test the visualising skill of the applicants,” says John. .

After he graduated from SPA with the gold medal for the highest scores in the history of the institute back then, John started assisting SPA professors Ranjit Sabikhi and Ajoy Choudhury with designing work.

In 1985, he started his own company and till date has worked on almost 1,000 projects, which include the YMCA Campus, Greater Noida; Jesus and Mary College, Chanakyapuri; Deepalaya School, Kalkaji; Trivandrum International School, Trivandrum – Junior School Park; Renaissance School, Mathura; St Michael’s Church, Gurgaon; St Martin’s Church, Delhi Cantonment; Yusuf Sadan, Connaught Place; Mother Teresa’s Deepashram, Gurgaon and Shanthigiri Ashram, Saket.

From schools, colleges, spiritual homes to old age homes, orphanages, homes for tribal people, dispensaries in rural areas, churches and ashrams, he has done it all.

Read more: High demand for neurosurgeons in India

While working, John says architects create conceptual sketches based on their understanding of client requirements. They need to factor in the scale and nature of the site of construction, the direction of light and even the budget for the project.

The conceptual sketch is then presented to clients. Based on their inputs, architects might re-work or modify the same. Following this, detailed drawings of the project are made and approvals sought from local authorities, including the municipality, chief fire officer, Airports Authority of India (if the project is in the flight path).

“While designing the project, an architect needs to keep in mind the local municipal laws, building bylaws and the national building code,” says John.

It takes about six months from conceptualisation to starting of execution depending on the project and the city. After getting the requisite approvals architects start work on projects in coordination with consultants in diverse fields such as carpentry, plumbing, and air conditioning

Architects also need to float tenders for bigger projects, analyse proportions of materials required to complete the project and approve tender applications in consultation with project owners.It is one of the most promising sectors one can work for. If you’re good, one project always leads to another, John says.

All you need to know about a career as an architect

Lowdown: Successful execution of a project helps you bag a new project. Your ability to replicate the design into real infrastructure adds to your credibility in the industry. You should be able to imagine every creation, even before you create it. Put yourself in the shoes of the people who are going to use that building to be able to address their requirements.


1. School for Planning and Architecture, New Delhi

2. CEPT, Ahmedabad

3. JJ School of Architecture, Mumbai

4. Chandigarh College of Architecture, Chandigarh

5. Department of Architecture, IIT Roorkee

Eligibility: Students who have completed Class 10 and plan to pursue a career in architecture need to apply for national aptitude test in architecture for admission to the top architecture colleges in the country.

Skills and traits: 

1. Keen eye for detail, constant quest to improve and perfect

2. Good communication skills

3. Ability to understand what a client is looking for

4. Respect for end-users’ requirements and investments

5. Perseverance and hard work to hone skills

A slump may affect a builder, but a good architect will always have projects big or small keeping him afloat (HT Photo)