By Lisa Simpson
Source: The Royal Gazette
From drawing plans, to attending meetings to on-site visits, Ché Caines and Kevin Simmons are learning all aspects of the architectural trade.
For more than a year, the two young aspiring architects have been in training at local firms as they work towards becoming fully qualified — a process which takes at least seven years.
“You’re juggling a lot of goals,” Mr Caines said of the experience, “from drawing to meetings to keeping clients up to date.”
Mr Simmons said: “It’s fun and challenging at the same time. It’s so much more than just designing a building.”
Mr Caines added: “We get to go back and start our master’s degree with a completely different understanding of architecture and the field and all the different components.” The 24-year-olds explained that because the Island is so small, they are taking on tasks including electrical and plumbing work, that would often be delegated to different departments if they were working abroad.
“Being here allows you to wear multiple hats,” Mr Simmons said. “You have to understand everything that goes into a building.”
It is for this reason that both men agree that Bermuda is a great place to gain valuable on-the-job experience. “We wouldn’t have this experience abroad,” Mr Caines insisted.
Although they are not yet fully licensed architects, in taking on the role of real architects, both have their own clients and run their own jobs under supervision.
Mr Caines said: “Every day I learn something new — I’m surrounded by people with knowledge in the field.”
He added that it feels great to be in their early twenties and being able to participate in some of the biggest developments and future landmarks of Bermuda.
While both men are relishing the opportunity to learn as much as they can from the professionals in the field, the work comes with a lot of responsibility and they are grateful for the supervision.
“We’re responsible for lives at the end of the day,” Mr Caines said. “We don’t have the years behind us that an average architect has.”
“Because they have so much experience they spot things you wouldn’t notice,” Mr Simmons added.
But aside from working on their own projects, the pair, who are both members of the Institute of Bermuda Architects (IBA), also mentor other students.
Mr Caines is the president of the IBA’s student association and although this adds pressure to his already busy schedule, he tries his best to find the time to give back.
“It feels rewarding to be able to sit down with a student, even after work,” Mr Caines said.
“It also helps you to realise how much you’ve learnt,” Mr Simmons added. “It’s really nice to be able to pass on that knowledge”.
For Mr Simmons, learning about the responsibilities of architects and how broad the field is, has been the most valuable experience of his training. For Mr Caines, it has been time management. He added that the real world is “completely different” from university, because they have to deal with liability, as well as people’s money, time and personalities.
The Warwick resident graduated from the University of the Arts London in June last year and he is now in training at architectural firm Cooper Gardner.
Mr Simmons, who graduated from the University of West England in 2013, has found his place at Botelho Wood Architects, after also working at the Department of Public Works and Cooper Gardner.
The Pembroke resident has worked on industrial, marine, residential, commercial and historical projects and Mr Caines has focused on commercial and residential projects, as well as smaller tasks like renovations.
Both men have completed their bachelor’s degrees in architecture and after finishing their work experience they are looking to pursue their Master’s degrees and final exams so they can become licensed architects.
Mr Simmons said he definitely plans to work in Bermuda once he is a qualified architect. One of his aspirations is to feature design more prominently in the Island’s education system. “It’s not something that is really pushed here,” he said. Mr Caines, on the other hand, plans to open his own firm with branches in Bermuda, London and Dubai. “I’m collaborating with future partners already,” he said.
Both insist that there are plenty of employment opportunities in this field in Bermuda and would encourage anyone with a passion for design to pursue a career in architecture. “If you really like architecture and love it, then definitely go for it,” Mr Caines said.