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Why Cost Management Works Better when Architects Are in Charge

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.

The Business of Design Success: How did BIG Get So... Big?

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.

Danish National Maritime Museum, Helsingør. Image © Rasmus Hjortshøj Gammel Hellerup Gymnasium, Hellerup. Image © Jens Lindhe 8 House, Copenhagen. Image © Dragor Luftfoto Two World Trade Center in New York. Image © DBOX, Courtesy of BIG

7 Tips to Help You Build Trust With Your Client

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.

What Are the Benefits of Starting Your Own Architecture Firm Over Joining an Existing One?

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.

21 Rules for a Successful Life in Architecture

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.

How Much Will It Cost to Start My Own Architecture Firm?

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.

6 Tips to Build Business in the Digital Age

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.”

To that end, Beveridge stresses the importance of Internet marketing. But creating a business website is only the first step.

See Beveridge's 6 tips to building business, after the break...

How to Start a Practice

"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...

Video: Architecture and Business

Jenn Kennedy, author of Success by Design and AD collaborator, shared with us this interesting video in which she asked an influential group of architects about their business direction. These testimonials by Dan Meis, Art Gensler, Lauren Rottet and Steven Ehrlich give us valuable insights on running a successful firm.