Jen Cho AIA
Jen Cho AIA grew up in Happy Valley, Oregon, and moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington Architectural Studies program. After an inspiring study abroad quarter with the Rome Program, she graduated in 2007, ready to once again experience the euphoria of a full eight hours of sleep at night.
The great recession failed to demolish her optimism, and she worked at Mithun on a variety of projects including student housing and a private school expansion. In 2016, she joined Encore Architects, and has since focused on multifamily housing. Jen enjoys participating on the AIA Professional Practice Steering Committee, as well as serving as an ACE Mentor, hoping to help high school students appreciate architectural design as well as remind them of the importance of sleep.
What is the value of being licensed to you? Why did you decide to get licensed?
Becoming licensed helped affirm my own sense of confidence. There is an immense amount of pride in being able to call myself an architect after years of explaining, “I’m an architect, but not technically an architect, because that’s a licensed profession…” to a less than interested layperson at a party who was just trying to make polite conversation near the chip bowl.
How long did it take you to complete the ARE?
What were some of your best strategies for studying and how did you strategize for any set-backs or struggles (if any)?
Most important (and difficult) for me was wrangling the discipline to maintain a regular study schedule after coming home from work. It was also important to reference multiple source materials in order to cover each exam’s content sufficiently. No one study guide out there is comprehensive or can reproduce the types or styles of questions on the exam, but all together they do a good job. Immediately after almost every exam, I ate some donuts – pass or fail, just sitting for an exam deserves a reward.
How did your role change in your firm once you were licensed?
It did not – we work in very small project teams, so you end up doing some of everything already.
Where do you think the field of architecture is headed?
I can’t wait to see how technology will change everything from libraries to parking structures to how buildings harvest energy. I also hope to read about the first Architect designing for Mars some day.
What do you hope to contribute with your work?
Meaningful spaces that serve their users well.
What is your favorite Seattle-area structure?
On a warm summer day, Kite Hill at Gas Works Park.
Advice for others thinking about getting licensed?
Sign up for an exam six weeks out – once you have an actual deadline in front of you, fear is a great motivator.