Ah, clients. Sadly, we can't all be paper architects, dreaming up improbable futures (and even the members of Archigram eventually settled down to found studios that actually build stuff). As a result, we're forced to work with people who often think that just because they're paying for our services, they own us like slaves. They come in many different varieties, from the client that thinks that everything is an emergency to the client that obsesses over the design budget. The following infographic produced by "startup studio and accelerator" Coplex will help you diagnose your own clients—and more importantly, offers some tips on how best to deal with them to make your life easier.
Charles Thornton, one of the world’s preeminent structural engineers, once said that the greatest challenge facing the profession of structural engineering is that “I don’t think we have enough self-esteem and enough confidence in ourselves to believe that what we do is so important... Architects are trained to present, to communicate, to sell, to promote themselves, to promote their industry, and to take credit for what they do.”
As a structural engineer with over a decade of experience, I agree with Mr. Thornton—to an extent.
This article was originally published by Archipreneur as "The 10 Most Important Lessons Learned in 25 Years of Architecture Practice."
The article is an expansion on one part of Archipreneur's interview with Craig Applegath, Founding Principal of DIALOG’s Toronto Studio. The architect spoke from his experience of running a 150-person practice and listed 10 tips for archipreneurs interested in starting their own business. Archipreneur shares that list here.
When I first started my own practice I thought everyone wanted to run their own practice. It turns out not. Most people just want to work in a great practice run by someone else. But for those who are real archipreneurs – and you know who you are – there is nothing so thrilling and fun as starting your own business; and nothing so scary and anxiety producing as starting your own business! They are the flip side of the same coin. But in terms of general advice for people starting their own practice or business here are ten key lessons I have learned over the past twenty-five years of practice:
This article was originally published by Common Edge as "Building Madness: How the Boom and Bust Mentality Distorts Architecture."
Architects are economically bipolar; for us it is either the best or the worst of times. And it’s not just architects. The entire construction industry is tuned to these extremes, but only architects are psychologically validated by booms and crushed by busts. All professions have a larger source of dependency—medicine needs insurance, law needs the justice system—but the construction industry has a starker equation: building requires capital.
Contractors tend to react to market flows in purely transactional ways. Booms mean more work, more workers, more estimates, business expansion. For architects, a boom means life validation. Every architect wants to make a difference, and many want to offer salvation, like the architect Richard Rogers, who once said, “My passion and great enjoyment for architecture, and the reason the older I get the more I enjoy it is because I believe we—architects—can affect the quality of life of the people.” But salvation can only be earned if buildings are created.
This article by Sheela Maini Søgaard, partner and CEO of BIG, was originally published by DesignIntelligence as "BIG Lessons: Eight Key Points That We Focus(ed) on in Our Growth Process."
When I joined BIG–Bjarke Ingels Group in 2008, we had one office, one partner, and 45 employees. Eight years later we have 12 partners and more than 400 employees in Copenhagen, New York, and London. As we continue to expand our reach, projects, and staff I have awarded myself the luxury of looking back and distilling what has made a difference so far. These are my top eight lessons for having secured the successful growth of BIG over the past eight years.
"False Binaries": Why the Battle Between Art and Business in Architecture Education Doesn't Make Sense
This article was originally published by The Architect's Newspaper as "Phil Bernstein pens inaugural column on technology, value, and architects’ evolving role."
This is the inaugural column “Practice Values,” a new bi-monthly series by architect and technologist Phil Bernstein. The column will focus on the evolving role of the architect at the intersection of design and construction, including subjects such as alternative delivery systems and value generation. Bernstein was formerly vice president at Autodesk and now teaches at the Yale School of Architecture.
This semester, I’m teaching a course called “Exploring New Value Propositions for Practice” that’s based on the premise that the changing role of architects in the building industry requires us to think critically about our value as designers in that system. After studying the structure and dynamics of practice business models, the supply chain, and other examples of innovative design enterprises, they’ll be asked to create a business plan for a “next generation” architectural practice. I’m agnostic as to what this practice does per se, as long as it operates somewhere in the constellation of things that architects can do, but there is one constraint—your proposed firm can’t be paid fixed or hourly rate fees. It has to create value (and profit) through some other strategy.
The ShiftxDesign Conference at Harvard, this February 19th, is an annual exploration of all things design. Launched in 2012, the conference is a collaborative effort between student groups at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Harvard Business School, and Harvard College - and the only cross-school event of its kind. The event brings together creative thinkers, design luminaries, experts from a variety of backgrounds, and students to engage in and reinterpret the design process.
This article was originally published by The Architect's Guide as "How To Earn A Six Figure Architecture Salary."
Architecture salary. Perhaps one of the most talked about and passionately debated topics in the design community. I receive more emails on this subject than almost anything else.
Previously, in 5 Factors Affecting Your Architecture Salary, I covered several variables that contribute to your income. However, for this article I want to highlight the areas that will produce the best return on your investment of time and money.
While earning six figures doesn't mean what it used to, it is still a very admirable (and achievable) goal. So how do you go about reaching this significant architecture salary milestone? Let's discuss.
“The Archipreneur Concept” is an action-oriented guide about exploring new business models for entrepreneurially minded architects. You have the chance to win 1 out of 10 copies the Archipreneur Team is giving away for free this week.
This article was originally published by Archipreneur as "The Pros and Cons of Starting out as a Freelance Architect."
Freelancing can be a great option for architects looking for more autonomy and freedom in their work. Although there are drawbacks to this kind of work, there are specific strategies that you can use to overcome the challenges and uncertainties of going solo.
It is easy to look down on freelancing. Those who are employed by a traditional company or firm see freelancing as an inferior work model that automatically implies less financial security and suggests to employers a loose definition of responsibility. People often imagine freelancers as slumming it in their pajamas doing just a few hours of work per day, or as Jacks-of-all-trades, overworked and constantly chasing new commissions. While data from recent studies and surveys show that freelancers do indeed work fewer hours than those in traditional employment, the rising number of freelancers proves that this trend is not waning. In fact, according to recent reports, increasing numbers of US and European workers are choosing to go freelance.
Starting an architecture firm may sprout from one’s love for and interest in the discipline, but running a competitive business requires more than just a tendency to enjoy the work. BIM could be the edge a firm needs in order to stand out from the crowd. There are many ways a firm can make use of BIM to become more profitable on their projects and successful in winning those projects in the first place; read on to find out more about six of them.
Completing a degree in architecture can be a long and arduous process, but also wonderfully rewarding. Despite this, many freshly graduated architects find themselves unsure about where to begin, or deciding that they actually don’t want to be architects at all. Here is a list of 21 careers you can pursue with a degree in architecture, which may help some overcome the daunting task of beginning to think about and plan for the professional life that awaits.
The AEC industry is notoriously slow to adopt new technologies. Cumbersome organizational structures and high financial stakes make it difficult for AEC professionals to experiment. Due to the limited role of architects in the project development process, innovative design solutions and experimentation with new manufacturing techniques are still confined to academic circles and research institutions.
However, some architecture firms are utilizing their high profiles, international success and the influx of talented, young designers to establish in-house research divisions and incubators that support the development of new ideas in the AEC industry. The following five companies are consistent in pushing the envelope and helping architecture adopt some of the latest technologies:
While BIM is increasingly becoming a necessity in architecture, it is still difficult to quantify the benefits it is bringing to the industry. Currently, there is no industry-standard method for calculating BIM’s Return on Investment (ROI) and, due to the complexities of the calculation, many firms have not adopted any consistent measurement practices to determine the monetary benefit that the technology has brought to their practice. The difficulty centers upon the fact that traditional analysis of ROI is unable to represent intangible factors that are important to a construction project such as avoided costs or improved safety.
Therefore, as the leading providers of BIM technology, Autodesk was interested in researching the subject. Their study, “Achieving Strategic ROI: Measuring the Value of BIM,” reveals that the role of ROI in technology decision making is shifting in that leading firms are seeking a more nuanced view of ROI to inform their strategy of investment and innovation.
Transcending the traditional “profit versus cost” calculation, companies are looking into different dimensions of the company to develop well-informed quantifications of their ROI for BIM.
In The Archipreneur Concept, architect Tobias Maescher explores new business models that architect-entrepreneurs are using to build game-changing, novel enterprises that are enriching the field of architecture. The fundamentals of how to break away from the convention of trading time for profit, create additional income streams to help sustain your practice when times are tough, and build your own projects are explored through real-world examples and actionable techniques. The book is a comprehensive guide to new business models for architects interested in practicing their craft in an entrepreneurial way, with each business model complemented with case studies of exciting new firms and individuals that run their businesses with scalability and efficiency in mind.
You will discover how to avoid common traps in passive income models, and how to take advantage of productizing architectural services through automation, building products, developing your own projects through co-housing initiatives, taking the lead in design builds, contributing to projects on tactical urbanism, and marketing your firm effectively.
The following is an excerpt from the chapter "Archipreneurship as a Solution."
This review of "The Archipreneur Concept" by Tobias Maescher was originally published on Archsmarter as "The Archipreneur Concept: A Review."
When I started my business almost four years ago, I read every business book I could get my hands on. Apart from a paper route in grade school, I didn’t have a business background. I hadn’t even taken any business classes in college. But after seeing many hardworking colleagues get laid off during the 2009 recession, I realized I wanted to call my own shots and be my own boss.
Needless to say, I had some catching up to do.
So I went to the library and the book store and got a stack of books on marketing, sales, and business finance. You name it, I read it. The problem was that I couldn’t always put these books into a context that made sense to me. I didn’t want to run a Fortune 500 business. I didn’t have a marketing team. I didn’t even know if I wanted to hire employees. I just wanted work for myself and build something of my own.
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.