So you’re convinced that BIM will be a good addition to your firm. Unlike more conventional CAD, BIM is composed of intelligent 3D models which make critical design and construction processes such as coordination, communication, and collaboration much easier and faster. However, for these reasons BIM is also seen by many as a more complicated software with a steep learning curve, with the potential to take a large chunk out of a firm’s operating budget during the transition period. So how do you actually transition an entire firm’s process to BIM? Here are ten steps to guide you on your way.
These days, BIM is becoming standard practice. Most people involved in the construction sector—from the architects and engineers who use BIM to the governments that are implementing mandates for BIM in certain project types—are well and truly sold on the benefits it brings, including efficiency, collaboration, cost-savings, and improved communication. As a result, many practices these days that haven’t yet switched to BIM give the same reason: the dreaded transitional period.
Of course, these fears of transition are not entirely unfounded, as new software, staff training and teething problems are an inevitable part of upending your existing workflow. These initial costs create a barrier for many busy practices who simply can’t afford the time or money right now that would enable them to unlock BIM’s benefits down the line. The key to solving this conundrum of course is to minimize the initial costs—and one way of doing this that many experts recommend is to start your firm’s transition to BIM with a single pilot project, in which you will be able to establish a workflow and define standards that suit your practice, and transfer these lessons onto later projects.
But what is the best way to select this pilot project? Should you work on a large or small building? A complex work or a simple one? Here, three early adopters of BIM share what they learned from their own pilot projects, each with very different characteristics.
Downtown Los Angeles is on the verge of a breakthrough moment. It is becoming more livable, walkable and enjoyable as we speak. But what's missing? A multidisciplinary panel at the A+D Museum examines the promise of DTLA almost a decade after the museum's show Enlightened Development asked the question: How do we foster a "sustainable downtown revitalization"? What can we learn from other cities where a similar downtown renaissance has taken place?
The benefits and capabilities of building information modeling in large-scale architectural practices are well known. But is BIM really necessary for smaller firms? Many small firms have been operating using traditional CAD methods for some time now, and switching technologies can seem a daunting task, especially for companies that operate on small budgets and without the specialized personnel of large international firms. But this is 2016 and the economic landscape has changed, with more and more expected from architects all the time. Time is more valuable now than ever. Where BIM software programs were once seen as simply nice to have, their large range of benefits have now made BIM an essential part of the design process. And as the following reasons show, BIM is just as important a tool for small offices as it is for larger ones.
For decades, architectural competitions have been recognized as a great way for architecture firms to get their big break, or to make a name for themselves in the types of projects they might not have been considered for before. However, competitions come with a downside: it’s not always easy for firms to build them in to their culture. Design competitions take time, often don’t translate to billable hours, and aren’t always clear pathways to strengthening the firm’s balance sheet, and as a result they have seen something of a backlash in recent years.
Still, as the architecture profession evolves, it’s important we never lose sight of the remarkable value design competitions can bring to architects, firms and design culture. Regardless of their type, scale or structure, design competitions are key creative opportunities that can enrich our efforts personally and professionally, and as design leader of CannonDesign’s New York City office, I’ve worked with my colleagues to embed them into our work. We see numerous ways in which they can add value to our work, our firm and our clients – and they could do the same for you too.
In “Architect + Entrepreneur Volume Two”, we follow along as architect Eric Reinholdt scales his business, continuing the narrative begun in volume 1 and applying an entrepreneurial mindset to every facet of his work. The book chronicles his experiments – failures and successes – as he reinvents his architectural practice.
The primary innovation is a focus on passive income producing products and it involves a simple shift supplementing the standard consulting arrangement – hours traded for revenues earned – with an architecture-as-product revenue model. We discover how products, especially digital products, are nearly infinitely scalable. As compared with the limits of time, which govern the standard consulting arrangement, passive-income-generating products reinforce the brand message and create more freedom for the business owner.
Rather than wholly rejecting the individualized, high-touch service side of the business in favor of products, the book demonstrates how a line of products can actually nourish the consulting arm with only those clients best suited for the brand, while producing enough residual income to fully fund the practice.
The following is an excerpt from chapter 2, “A New
The third annual Architecture Business Plan Competition is open for free registration. Five finalists are brought to Philadelphia just prior to the 2016 AIA National Convention to present their full business plan. The grand prize winner receives $10,000! The competition is open to licensed architects in the United States and Canada owning a firm less than 10 years old, or planning to start a firm within the next year.
Last year Kevin J Singh, an Associate Professor of Architecture in the School of Design at Louisiana Tech University, adapted one of his lectures giving advice to students as they embark upon a new career into an article. That article, titled "21 Rules for a Successful Life in Architecture" and published on ArchDaily in September 2014, was a runaway success, becoming our second most-read post of 2014 and among our most visited articles of all time.
As a result of his article's success, this year Singh has taken his 21 rules as a framework for a new ebook, "Beginning Your Career in Architecture: Candid Advice for Emerging Professionals." The ebook not only elaborates on the 21 rules from the original article, but also offers questions to the reader that lead to actionable goals, giving them the nudge they need to start out on the right track. In the following excerpts from the book, Singh addresses voicing your opinions, finding - or rather creating - the role that suits your skills, and making the world a better place.
Architecture is in some ways a paradoxical profession. On one hand, it projects a popular image of the lone, creative genius, taking control over all aspects of a building project and forming them to their creative ideals. But in reality, most projects take a huge team of people, all working together to produce a building which usually represents the creative input of not only many different people, but many professions too.
One way to find a balance between these two extremes is to take more creative control over the decisions of the group - in other words, to start your own practice, guided by your creative input alone. But is that goal worth the difficulty it might take to get there? This was the question we had in mind when we asked our readers to let us know the pros and cons of starting your own firm last month. Interestingly, not a single commenter left any response about the joys of working for someone else, and the consensus was firmly that running your own practice is preferable - provided you can deal with the significant problems of doing so. Read on to find out what they had to say.
To talk about architecture and construction without ever mentioning cost overruns is not an easy thing to do. These kind of unforeseen problems happen in the majority of projects, as the dynamics of architecture and construction are extremely complex and often present challenges that aren't 100% controllable. Over the years, project management consultants have been integrating cost management into their services, making an effort to fill this market gap with a proper solution. Still, most of this work is performed by consultants with a financial background and little knowledge of architecture and construction solutions and processes.
With this increased attention to budgetary issues, the cost performance of projects has been steadily improving, but usually at the expense of the project’s aesthetic concept and final quality. Would it be possible to put architects in control of this kind of management? After all, they’re the ones with the conceptual sensibility and the technical knowledge necessary to perform this work in a truly integrated way.
In recent years, the ever-increasing profile of Bjarke Ingels and his firm BIG have been hard to miss. For an office that is barely 10 years old, the number and scope of their projects is astonishing; to cope with demand, the firm has grown to employ almost 300 people. This growth, though, did not happen by accident. In this article, originally published on DesignIntelligence as "The Secret to BIG Success," Bob Fisher speaks to the firm's CEO and Partner Sheela Maini Søgaard in order to uncover the business plan behind the BIG phenomenon.
BIG may be the most appropriately named firm on the planet.
The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) seems to have an outsized impact in all it does. The Copenhagen-based design firm turns conventions and assumptions upside down and combines contrasting possibilities in outrageously bold, imaginative and playful ways. Projects like Via at West 57th Street in New York City and the Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant in Copenhagen are prime examples: the first a pyramid-shaped apartment building that defies the forest of rectangular towers around it, and the second a power plant that doubles as a smoke ring-blowing ski slope.
The world has taken note. Whether in praise or criticism, the architectural, cultural and business media tend to strike a heroic tone when describing the firm’s work: radical, ambitious, bold, confident. In short…BIG.
There is a lot of discussion about the architect-client relationship circling the profession right now: about which clients architects ought to be prepared to turn down, or about the power developers have over the architects they employ. Often forgotten in these discussions is the fact that the key to making good architecture is for the architect to stick to their vision, and - crucially - to have their client's trust to do so. In this article, originally published on Autodesk's Line//Shape//Space publication as "7 Tips to Build and Maintain Trust in an Architect-Client Relationship," Taz Loomans offers 7 ways that architects can create this trusting relationship.
“Without trust, your relationship does not exist; all you have is a series of transactions,” says Rosa Sheng, architect and senior associate at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.
Trust is the foundation of any relationship between architect and client, and cultivating trust has huge benefits: repeat clients, patience when challenges arise, and referrals to new clients. But a weak or eroded sense of trust can harm your reputation, cost you future business, and even drive clients toward litigation.
Due to the complex nature of architecture projects, a number of factors can make or break an architect-client relationship. Here are seven tips from architectural experts to help you build and maintain trust.
For many architects, owning their own firm is the dream which drives their career. In a field such as architecture, the idea of having the freedom to seek out the projects you most want to do and the creative freedom to make the final decision on a design sounds like the ideal way to work. And yet, ask any successful firm founder and they'll probably tell you that owning your own architecture business doesn't live up to such a romantic notion, and takes a lot of hard (non-design) work to be successful. In the recession of recent years, many found this out the hard way, becoming self-employed out of necessity and having to get creative about how exactly they make their money.
Architect + Entrepreneur: A Field Guide to Building, Branding, and Marketing Your Startup Design Business
The inherently dry subjects of business development, marketing, P+L reports, taxes, and insurance are less likely to feed the intellect of the architect than discussions of materiality, parallax, articulation and form. Yet the reality of what it means to practice architecture, by necessity, requires reconciling these two divided worlds. Nowhere is the need to unify them as great as with the startup design business.
Author, award-winning architect and founder of the firm 30X40 Design Workshop, Eric Reinholdt, explores these topics in "Architect + Entrepreneur: A Field Guide to Building, Branding, and Marketing Your Startup Design Business." Part narrative and part business book, Reinholdt advocates new approaches and tools that merge entrepreneurship with the practice of architecture and interior design. The book offers a framework for starting a design practice in the 21st century which leverages the lean startup methodology to create a minimum viable product and encourages successive small wins that support a broader vision enabling one to, “think big, start small, and learn fast.”
Read on after the break for an excerpt from Chapter 2 - Getting Started.
Originally published by Entrepreneur Architect, Associate Professor at Louisiana Tech Kevin J Singh gives his 21-point rundown of how to have a successful and happy life as an architect. The list gives some pointers that will certainly help young students and graduates, but may well be useful to some of the not-so-young practitioners who need to refocus on what's important.
The following is a compilation of my professional practice lecture on the last day of class. Instead of recapping the course or giving a final exam, I share with my students a presentation titled Advice as You Finish School and Start to Practice. I present a series of statements followed up with a brief explanation.
Starting your own firm is a daunting task, especially if you're not completely sure of what you're getting yourself into. Author Mark LePage, founder of Entrepreneur Architect knows this firsthand. This guide, originally published on Entrepreneur Architect, discusses the financial implications of starting your own firm and acts as a guide through the challenge, leading you to success.
How much will it cost to start my own architecture firm?
That is a question that many of my readers ask me each week. The answer will certainly differ depending on whom you ask. When architects ask me how much it will cost to launch an architecture firm, I say, “as much as you need.”
Below I will discuss the very basics required to launch a sole proprietor architecture firm. Depending on your circumstance and the region in which you live, the numbers may vary for you.
This article, which originally appeared as "Clients for Life: 6 Tips to Generate Leads and Build New Business" on Autodesk’s Line//Shape//Space publication, is by Ken Micallef; it features the advise of John Beveridge, a 30-year veteran in the management-consulting industry.
“Like most small businessmen,” Beveridge says, “I too am a small-business guy trying to compete with bigger companies, trying to generate leads.”
See Beveridge's 6 tips to building business, after the break...
"Successful practices have launched in earlier recessions, and will do so in this one. It is wise, however, to be armed with as much knowledge as possible", concludes BD's most recent research paper "How to Start a Practice... and Keep it Running". The document, containing advice on every aspect of setting up a practice, from naming it to chasing late payments, aims to provide just that knowledge.
Read more about 'How to Start a Practice' (including how to get a 50% discount) after the break...