Architectural design plays an important role in a modern city that is constantly transforming, but providing the highest level of expertise in this industry can be a challenge.
Apart from their role as creative designers, modern-day architects also have a full range of responsibilities extending beyond building design. These duties include being responsible to society at large and fostering cultural sensitivity for the countries, cities and environments that they work in.
"Our jobs are always a challenge. To work in this industry you need the right mindset and proper attitude," says Benjamin Ip, director, P&T Group.
Mr Ip entered the architectural profession 18 years ago when he joined the group after graduating from university, but his first encounter with P&T was even further back, when he visited Nanjing on holiday in the early 1980s while still an architectural undergraduate in the UK. He recalls being vastly impressed with the design and structure of the hotel he stayed in, but only discovered years later on joining the P&T Group in Hong Kong that his own co-operation had designed the building.
"Our co-operation has a long history, and so does the architectural industry. However, we are constantly growing and evolving with the field, regularly adding new family members to our organisation," remarks Mr Ip.
Making the grade
The P&T Group recruits more than a dozen new graduates locally and internationally every year. "This profession can be quite competitive, but it's not difficult to break into if you have the talent and the right qualifications and attitude," he states. To enter the industry, an architectural designer has to complete about five years at architecture school. Graduate architects then need two years of related work experience and must obtain the necessary licence.
"At P&T Group, we strive to provide architectural recruits with top-notch training to help them obtain the licence they require to become fully qualified architects," says Mr Ip. "In this industry, young architects are often exposed to new projects and benefit from working with experienced practitioners, who play a key role in guiding them along a prosperous career path," he explains.
"We are a traditional company in the sense that we follow a structured method of teaching: junior members learning from senior architects," Mr Ip adds.
He points out that architects in the group work in teams to accomplish projects. Senior architects act as team leaders with junior architects working as "apprentices" throughout the different stages of projects, from concept design and design development to project implementation. "This enables them to gain valuable project management skills and exposure to different types of projects," Mr Ip points out, noting that every project is subject to a specific process, with stages including meetings, brainstorming sessions, design, research, discussions and reviews.
Whether junior or senior, architectural designers need a lot of patience and dedication to excel. However, the prospering economy has positively impacted on salaries and remuneration packages in the industry. "We acknowledge our architects' efforts and dedication and therefore regularly review salaries to ensure that they are in tune with market values in the industry", Mr Ip remarks.
"We also ensure that employees who put extra time and effort into our projects are financially rewarded," he adds.
The annual turnover rate in the industry is between two per cent and three per cent, Mr Ip states, explaining that he sees this as a positive sign. "Besides salary and rewards, exciting work environments, rewarding experiences and immense satisfaction also enable us to make our profession a life-long commitment," he emphasises.
China's expanding economy, Macau's booming hospitality industry and the ongoing demand for residential and commercial buildings in Hong Kong have presented the architectural profession with new challenges. "There has been an increased demand for architectural services in China and Macau. Projects in Macau mainly involve the building of hotels and casinos, while projects on the mainland cover a wide range of public and private buildings," Mr Ip elaborates, adding that Hong Kong has seen an increase in projects related to educational institutions.
With increasing prosperity and high expectations from clients, architects are challenged to not only seek original solutions for creating the best quality buildings, but at the same time to enhance service quality. "For this reason, it is essential that architectural practitioners have a real passion for the profession," Mr Ip concludes.