助理建筑师 羲和清零 123

Assistant Architect by Xi He Qing Ling

Chapter 123: Master’s Degree


Unlike the stoic Gu Yu, it was easy to talk to Tao Fei. Having similar experiences abroad, the two became close very fast. Tao Fei asked: “Is your degree recognized by RIBA? Are you qualified to study for Part 2?”

Zhang Siyi nodded: “Yeah.”

RIBA is the Royal Institute of British Architects. To become a certified RIBA architect, one must receive an undergrad degree from a RIBA-certified University which is three or more years of study for Part 1. Part 2 is a two-year program for a Master of Architecture and a specific Part 2 RIBA exam.

Domestic universities are not able to provide such certification. In other words, this road is only open to students who are undergraduate students in a certified university in the UK.

Tao Fei said with emotion: “The license is really good. I also want to take the exam for Part 2.”

Although Tao Fei has a master’s degree in the United Kingdom, it is not a pure Master of Architecture and thus, he is not eligible for a RIBA license. His degree is a hybrid architectural degree that incorporates sustainable development and research.

Zhang Siyi said: “Don’t you have a Master’s degree?””

“Yes, but I don’t have the prerequisites for a RIBA license.” Tao Fei looked at Zhang Siyi and asked: “When will you go back to England to study for Part 2? I remember you can apply to a Master’s program after 1 year of work experience.”

Zhang Siyi: “Yes, but I haven’t thought about whether or not to continue to study for a master’s degree.”

Tao Fei was surprised: “Why? Don’t you want to continue designing in the future?”

Zhang Siyi scratched his head and said: “Yes, but I think I can learn a lot from my work now.”

Especially under Gu Yu who was like an inexhaustible treasure trove of knowledge, Zhang Siyi felt like he has learned more under his guidance then he had in school and thus hasn’t felt pressured to continue his studies.

Tao Fei said: “If you want to continue in this field, you must get a Master’s degree. In order to get an Architecture license, you have to take the test one day sooner or later.”

Zhang Siyi thought for a moment and said: “Can’t I take the test in China?”

Widening his eyes in surprise, Tao Fei scolded him: “Are you stupid!? Taking the domestic test after getting a degree from the UK is a waste of your RIBA Part 1 education!”

Zhang Siyi didn’t fully understand: “Isn’t a foreign certificate in China useless?”

Tao Fei was quick to set Zhang Siyi straight: “How can it be useless! Although China has its own architect certification, the difference between the two is enormous. Chinese certificate isn’t recognized by foreigners, but a RIBA license is different. It is the gold standard and is recognized globally with international influence. The status of an architect with a RIBA license is very high.

Tao Fei continued to earnestly advise Zhang Siyi: “Now is not the era of self-taught geniuses like the prize-winning architect Tadao Ando or the famous Italian architect Renzo Piano! You think you can get ahead in this industry without further study? Even Gu Yu went to graduate school right after his undergraduate work. The market has a threshold. With no license and education, even if you are so fucking awesome, people will not look at you!”

Zhang Siyi: “…”

“A lot of domestic architects want to earn a RIBA license, but aren’t qualified. You are fortunate to have that qualification so you should cherish it!” Tao Fei shook his head and looked at Zhang Siyi like he was an idiot.

Zhang Siyi: “…”

Tao Fei reiterated: “After graduation, there were many of my classmates that went to the United States or Japan to continue with a Master’s program. Even though the construction market in the two respective countries isn’t as good as it is in China, the Master’s degree with a foreign license is better than getting a domestic one. Even Professor Zhang Yonghe of Peking University is a registered architect in the United States!”

After listening more, Zhang Siyi’s interest with stimulated: “Really?”

Tao Fei: “Of course it is! I’m telling you, relying only on your work in the field will limit your promotion prospects. If you want to get ahead or make a name for yourself, it is better to plan ahead as soon as possible.”

To help illustrate his point, Tao Fei handed Zhang Siyi his business card. Comparing the two, one title is assistant while the other is Master of Architecture. Zhang Siyi couldn’t help but ask: “It’s only the first year of work and your title so advanced while I’m just an assistant architect!”

Tao Fei said: “Ha-ha! Now you see! Even though it is the first year of work, my qualifications are higher than yours!”

Zhang Siyi: “…” Thinking about it, who would write the number of years of work experience on a business card?! It’s just the way things work in real life! Damn it!

This fact and Tao Fei remarks left Zhang Siyi deep in thought. For the first time he began to question his future path and think about returning to the UK for a Master’s degree.

If he had the title of “Royal British registered architect” on his business card, wouldn’t he be more powerful than Gu Yu? Shit! Just imaging it, Zhang Siyi was getting a little excited!

Having discussed some of the finer points of a British architectural education, Zhang Siyi and Tao Fei acted like they were old friends. As they were approaching their destination at the Kunming Changshui Airport, they finished their discussion about the domestic industry situation and got ready to land.

Now that they were in the southwest part of China, the weather was completely different. While Zhang Siyi took off his jacket and stuffed it into his carry-on bag, Tao Fei took off his denim jacket and tied it around his waist. Together they headed through the airport to the luggage carousel and picked up their baggage.

Zhang Siyi suddenly remembered and asked Tao Fei: “Where are we going next?”

Tao Fei glanced at Zhang Siyi: “I don’t know.”

Shocked, Zhang Siyi’s jaw nearly fell off: “What? I’m confused. What do you mean you don’t know?

Tao Fei stared at him and smirked: “Aren’t you the ‘Assistant’? Shouldn’t you have made plans beforehand?”

Zhang Siyi: “…” – Assistant? Fuck you! Who took whom on the business trip!? This guy is really not dependable!

As they pushed the luggage towards the exit, they quarreled.

Zhang Siyi: “Wasn’t it your idea to go on this business trip first?”

Tao Fei: “I told you, I brought you here to play!”

With a dubious expression, Zhang Siyi questioned his motives: “Eh? Are you fucking kidding with me!?

Tao Fei squeezed the bridge of his nose and squinted his eyes at him: “Since there wasn’t a specific place to go, I just let the personnel book tickets to Kunming.”

Freaking out, Zhang Siyi shouted at him: “I thought you came to Kunming for other purposes Ah!”

Tao Fei said with a sigh: “Ok, Ok. Stop arguing. Let’s find a hotel first.”

Taking out his phone to open a travel app, Tao Fei was momentarily distracted by WeChat and instead checked his messages: “Wow! More than 30 new messages ha-ha-ha!”

Zhang Siyi also got his phone out to see what Tao Fei’s friends posted.

A: “What company are you in? Are all your coworkers so cute?”

B: “Going out to play again! So envious and jealous! Feel my hateful vibes!”

C: “Didn’t Brother Gu go with you?”

D: “The young guy is so handsome!”

E: “Fat peach, are you bullying him? Look at his surprised face.”


Out of so many responses and ignoring the latter part of the sentence, Zhang Siyi focused on the keywords ‘fat peach.’ Your nickname is Fat Peach? Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha …… “

With veins bulging from his forehead in anger, Tao Fei said: “Take a hike! Call me the peach elder brother!”

Zhang Siyi grimaced and remained silent.

Tao Fei: “…”

Continuing to look at his phone frantically, Tao Fei seems a little strange. Why didn’t Gu Yu reply?

Not wanting to wait until Tao Fei stopped obsessing over his phone, Zhang Siyi interrupted him: “Stop looking at your phone! Let’s go downtown to get something to eat. I’m starving to death!” After making the decision for both of them, Zhang Siyi stepped to the sidewalk to hail a taxi.

When they got into the taxi, Tao Fei asked the driver: “Mister, what is the best hotel in Kunming?”

Surprised at Tao Fei question, Zhang Siyi started to fret. – Tao Fei wants to stay at the best hotel?

Thinking about the cheap motel that Gu Yu took him to on Zhang Siyi first business trip, he suddenly felt that Tao Fei was out of his league.

The driver enthusiastically answered Tao Fei. He quickly checked out the hotel online then finally told the driver: “Ok. Drive us to The Intercontinental.”

Zhang Siyi glanced at Tao Fei and checked the price. The standard room was more than a thousand a night. He couldn’t help but worry: “Won’t it exceed the reimbursement cost?”

Employees have a reimbursement limit for travel on business related trips. Although Tao Fei is responsible for the project, he isn’t the design director and has no control over this aspect of the business trip.

Tao Fei patted him on the shoulder: “Don’t worry. I asked my Brother and he said that when we work on this project we can stay at any hotel, no matter the expense.

Eyes twitching, Zhang Siyi replied: “But we haven’t started the project yet! How can you be so sure? What if it’s not the case?”

Tao Fei shrugged: “Then we can share the cost.”

Zhang Siyi: “…” Who the hell is going to share with you! (╯‵皿’)╯(┻━┻

Tao Fei added: “Your salary shouldn’t be any higher then mine, right? I accept installment payments with an interest rate of 3.5%.”

At a loss for words, Zhang Siyi collapsed in the back seat…

After a while, Zhang Siyi wondered: “How much is your salary?”

Tao Fei’s replied as matter of fact: “It’s only ten-thousand per month. It’s very pitiful, but my Brother said there are also project bonuses.”

What!? Zhang Siyi was totally shocked. Tao Fei’s salary is twice that of his. He is still a small fry! No way! He must have a Master’s degree! He’s going back to the UK for a Master’s!!!


T/N: FYI: Haicheng, where the characters live and work has a similar latitude as New York City. They traveled to Kunming, Yunnan province which is in the SW of China and has a latitude a little more south then Florida.


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