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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Craigslist Ad of the Week

Title: Project Architect: Public and Design Excellence projects
When: 2009-05-18
Who: Robert Siegel Architects

We are looking for talented and passionate architects who are excited about making buildings and working outside their comfort zone towards innovation in architecture. Hard work and dedication, combined with inspiration and drawing ability, is one thing that all staff members share. You must have truly excellent written and oral communication skills.

Cover Letter with Salary History:

Send us a brief, signed cover letter specific to Robert Siegel Architects that states why it makes sense to hire you. Graphic presentation is key. This is your first impression and demonstrates your ability as a designer. Use care in selecting the paper, the font, and the organization of text on the page.

One-Page Resume:

People who have stayed at a firm for 4-5 years are very attractive. We are looking for great experience and commitment. Limit your resume to one page only.

Your Work Samples:

Show us only your best stuff and the work you are most passionate about. You should showcase your abilities - whether it is a sketch, a floor plan, a construction detail, wall section, spec section, watercolor, etc. So long as it is your work, we are interested in seeing it. Please do not show renderings made by others. Submitting renderings other than your own will lead to automatic rejection.


After making it through the first resume review process, we give selected promising candidates a graphic test in our office. The goals of this 20 minute test are:

  1. Drawing ability using a pencil. This is a tool that architects use to communicate. In our office we are always drawing and sketching freehand.
  2. Passion for architecture and analytical ability. There is a portion of the test in which you have to draw a plan and a section or elevation of any piece of architecture. Amazingly, either history is no longer taught or the relevance of our architectural past is not integrated into design curricula since most people fail this portion catastrophically.
  3. Basic design ability. This is a classic "Architecture 101" test to measure spatial design ability.
Personal Interview:

You will be asked to present highlights of your work and a detail or two. Move quickly and ask questions. Let the person conducting the interview hold the portfolio and turn at their own pace. You must demonstrate your ability to edit and to be concise. Do not be late: Make sure that you are on time and are dressed as if you were meeting with a valued client.

Professional References:

You should have outstanding professional references that are able to talk about your specific strengths and abilities. Please have these ready to give at the conclusion of a personal interview.


Are you a talented architect with 5 to 10 years experience? Do you enjoy working rigorously on exciting design projects for demanding clients? Do you love to draw, make models, and visit construction sites?

Would you like to work on projects ranging in size from $500,000 to $150 million in construction value? Are you energized by the idea of working with outstanding public clients including the United States General Services Administration and the New York State University Construction Fund? Do you enjoy working with private companies and high-end private residential clients?

Robert Siegel Architects focuses on architectural innovation, every day, for every client. Our staff is an energetic and talented group drawn from all over the world with a passion for architecture and expertise in design, technology, urban and graphic design. We offer a great working environment, a comprehensive benefits package and competitive salaries.

If you would like to be part of our growth and are interested in contributing to the creative process at a design, detail and management level, we would like to see your work. For consideration please mail (no emails, please) the following:

  1. Cover Letter with salary history
  2. Resume
  3. Work Samples that demonstrate your design and technical ability
Please send to:

Robert Siegel Architects
Attn: Suzann Wolfe
37 West 37th Street, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10018


Comments: Oh, where to begin with this one. I can't tell if it's a job posting or advice for job seekers. It seems odd that a firm looking to hire would talk about using "care in selecting the paper, the font, and the organization of text on the page." It sounds controlling as well as very, very particular. What's probably most unique about Robert Siegel Architects is the test they administer, the first step in their three-step process towards being hired. Many architects might not be willing to put up with such a process, but today I'm guessing many won't think twice about it. But what's most interesting about these Siegel ads is the number of them, as they pop up on Craigslist regularly--for at least half a year now--as well as on other job boards. This makes me think Siegel isn't really hiring to fill a position, that they are shopping around for the best and brightest. This is speculation, and if correct it's their prerogative, but nevertheless it's mildly unsettling, as if the current state of the profession is an opportunity to mine talent towards hiring, maybe, at a future date. But, like I said, this is speculation.


  1. Well, he IS Robert Siegel.... of Gwathmey and Siegel fame(?)

  2. I hope they get a bevy of emails and phone calls.

    "Is it ok if I use an eraser on the test?"
    "Can I use SketchUp for the spatial test?"

    As for their desire to have people with "truly excellent written and oral communication skills..." How about hiring a proper web designer first? I only apply to flash-driven firms.

  3. MrCamper - He is not that Siegel, but he did work in that office in 1991 before starting his own practice.

  4. first warning sign: copious mentions of the royal "we". Go look at the Robert Siegel web site. The only person mentioned is.....Robert Siegel. How about a plug for the others in the "group"?

  5. Are you kidding me? Talk about a pompus ass. Telling someone how THEY must act, what THEY must show when HE interviews them? This is not your everyday 'applicants must have' requirement. This is way beyond that. This is arrogance at it's finest.
    The blogger is right. If he is so much into the "TEAM" then why not even a nod to any other person in his organization? Not a single one.
    My guess - is that he can't keep anyone around long enough to take their picture. And frankly, I looked at his website and portfolio - it's not all that. At the end of the day he's probably just trying to up his google rankings by posting a bunch of crap.
    Of course, I have no personal knowledge of any of this - this is entirely my opinion.

  6. I guess the degree of direction this guy seems to require will only attract a certain type of professional. If I had to guess I'd say the college graduate. As a professional I would prefer to feel more like an asset and less like a job needy kiss ass. I'll jump through hoops it they are warranted, but this just seems too stupid to want to deal with.

    But thats just me.

  7. John, you have GOT to do some follow up here... participate in the interview process and follow-up with your insight... a surreptitious architectural investigation of sorts ! totally on the DL of course.

  8. Speaking as a 2008 graduate, this sort of job posting would scare me away. But maybe that's the idea? *Firmly places check mark in "Chaff" box under "Wheat from Chaff" Siegel Test category*

    Don't principals want talented apprentices anymore? Anyone who can confidently label themselves a "_____ Professional" is apt to be less moldable than a recent grad. There's a difference between 'kissing ass' and offering up your own ass for penetration.

  9. perhaps Robert Seigel should put forth the effort on his crappy web site that he requests on his cover letter....

  10. who sends this guy an application? I wouldn't work there if they paid me.

    -Lucas Gray

  11. Brilliant ad and concise job description - and yes, I suppose it will scare away those trendy recent grads who seem to think that good architecture is possible purely on a white i book...

    The negative comments above portray a total lack of understanding of the business of architecture and the point of a job ad from an employer's point of view.

  12. For Nick: Maybe it's been a while since you were in school? Hand rendering and drafting skills, and a basic knowledge of art/architecture history are still a requirement for graduation at accredited colleges. What would 'scare me away' is the unmistakable tone of condescension and possible frustration on the part of the ad writer. I understand they may see quite a few pathetic excuses for portfolios on a daily basis, but by responding to this aggressive advertisement, you set a precedent for the amount crap you're willing to take. Unfortunately this economy has made employers increasingly liberal with their micromanagement... at every stage of employment it would seem.

  13. Rachel,
    it may be so that freehand drawing is a requirement to pass through architecture schools even today (and yes, it's some time since I graduated..) - but it seems that conceptualizing details or even the perspective sketching at the most basic level is not, judging from having recruited every so often in the past. A test is definitely a good idea, as well as talking someone through the portfolio and in particular showcased details. I often ask candidates to re-create details by sketching them out and explaining - and every so often candidates seem to have completely "forgotten" how they did it...

    And I don't understand what exactly is so bad about sorting the 'wheat from the chaff' (as one commenter above said) as early as possible, i.e. when looking at a CV and portfolio?

  14. Nick: I myself have spent a small amount of time as a peer recruiter for one or two minor interior design & architecture practices. In fact, my principals may have been ahead of their time in suggesting that I find suitable candidates for assistance on upcoming projects. As a peer to these candidates, I was able to quickly determine which would be most suitable for the position based on portfolio items, a brief interview, and a simple CAD test. Job description and requirements listed in our ad were succinct, and required submission of a sample portfolio. In the case of this ad I would suggest that everything immediately following the first paragraph and preceding the “About the Job” section be dropped. I would also suggest that Robert Siegel Architects next ad search might focus instead on a competent recruiter. Perhaps you’re up for the job?

  15. The very small office I work for have recently been getting quite a bit of job applications from out of work architects who have far more experience and have been around quite a bit longer than the principals. Our office just scraping by as it is, and it's sobering to read some of the applications, and to think what the applicants are being put through by propective employers.

    It's unfortunate that Robert Siegel is looking for experienced project architects while talking down to potential applicants in the ad. It's as if the firm is treating these veteran architects as high schoolers trying to get into a reputable school. It also hints at the expendability of the new hire, as if saying that, "our firm is so great that people are lining up out the doors to work for us, so you'd better work your ass off and don't feel too secure about your job," and, "oh yeah, we pay by contract, so that means all overtime work is charity." I find this ad demoralizing even as an employed (thankfully) outsider.


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