The Studio 5: It’s More Like This, Mua Mua Mua

by Tim Alatorre

Alex Ceballos, B’Arch ’08, joins us for a great conversation about freelance Architecture work while still attending school and shares his incredible story of being an immigrant working his way to, and through Cal Poly.

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Mail Bag:



  • Alex is still at the first job that he got straight out of Cal Poly
  • He has started the IDP program but isn’t sure if he wants to start the ARE’s. We try to convince him to start.
    • It’s hard to get all the IDP hours when your firm doesn’t do all services.
    • Emerging Professionals Companion offers IDP units,
    • Have consultants do a learning luncheon and give a homework assignment to those working on IDP
  • Started doing freelance residential drawings when he started college
    • First client was his uncle
    • At the peak in 2007 he was doing 40-50 projects a year
    • Friends called him a work-a-holic. For two years almost every weekend he drove to the central valley for work.
  • Alex talks about the legalities of a non-architect doing residential construction drawings and how he learned how to do the drawings.
  • We are left speachless
  • Doing real world work made it difficult to think really out of the box in design studio because he instinctively thought about constructability of the design.
  • Cal Poly’s motto of learn by doing is great but teachers controlling what technologies to use is something to possibly change.
  • Find a job related to Architecture while you are still in school to see if it’s really what you want to do.
  • Jake Feldman talked Alex into not changing majors to Architectural Engineering. Studing vs having fun with models.
  • Alex came to the United States from Mexico at 14 not knowing any English. He worked really hard to learn the language in less than two years. He couldn’t go directly to Cal Poly because he didn’t have 4 years of required English.
    • During his senior year of high school and the summer after graduation he completed most of his freshman college courses at the local junior college.
    • He transfered to Cuesta and then to Cal Poly. Still completed the entire program in the 5 year period because of transfer credits.
  • How does Alex feel about all the layoffs at his firm?
  • Hasn’t had any outside architecture work for 3 months, has started a side business with another person in the firm to create an alternate revenue stream
  • Even if he’s vacationing in Cabo San Lucas he will still be designing Architecture

About the Author

Tim Alatorre