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9 Entreprenurial Architects Who Developed Innovative Products and Services

Architects love innovation; they are usually on the lookout for the latest innovation in materials and products which they can incorporate into their inevitably innovative designs. And yet, there's one place where they rarely innovate: their own business. This article, originally posted on Archipreneur as "Branching Out: 9 Architects Who Created Innovative Products," explores the world of architects who are innovating in other ways.

For decades the architectural business model has remained unchanged. While other industries have taken cues from the increasingly popular start-up mentality seen in the technology sector, architects have stuck to the outmoded practice of trading time for dollars. In a competitive global economy, this model is highly susceptible to changes in the real estate market and has limited opportunities for growth. These realities have propelled some architecture graduates to consider alternative career paths in which their unique skillset offers them a competitive advantage.

In contrast to the current business model of most architecture firms, we’ve gathered nine examples of architects who have created innovative products and services. These endeavors offer numerous advantages when it comes to growing a business because unlike the consulting model, product creation is highly scalable and has the potential to provide a continuous passive income stream.

Gehry’s Grand Avenue Project Wins LA County Supervisors’ Approval

After being rejected for appearing too “boxy” and not appealing enough to pedestrians, Related Companies’ revamped Grand Avenue vision has finally won unanimous approval from county supervisors. The $750-million plan, which was abruptly halted back in September when Gensler’s toned-down version was deemed greatly “disappointing” by the city, will now move forward with a more playful (and pricey) design by the project’s original architect, Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry to Submit Grand Avenue Vision to L.A. City Officials

After reviewing proposals from a selection of other firms, Related Companies has chosen to move forward with Frank Gehry’s Grand Avenue vision for Los Angeles. The design, which abandons the fluid forms of Gehry’s original scheme, has been described by critic Christopher Hawthorne as “significantly more exuberant and suggestive of L.A. culture” than Gensler and Robert A.M. Stern Architects’ recently rejected proposal

Gehry's Eisenhower Memorial Takes Major Step Forward

Frank Gehry’s revised design for the controversial Eisenhower Memorial has been approved by US Commission of Fine Arts in a 3-1 vote - a major step forward after the project’s funding was nearly scraped last year. Though Gehry’s redesign was welcomed by the commission, BDOnline reported that they’ve requested he removes the three woven metal tapestries that border the site, as they believe the scale “undermined Gehry’s attempt to convey the president’s humility.” Gehry accepted this request and now awaits re-authorization from Congress. 

Updated Renderings Released for Mirvish+Gehry Toronto

David Mirvish, founder of Mirvish Productions, and Toronto-born starchitect Frank Gehry have released updated renderings of their massive, mixed-used project planned to transform Toronto's downtown arts and entertainment district. The Mirvish+Gehry vision will include a triad of residential towers perched on top a six-story, wooden podium inspired by the site’s industrial past and covered in a ‘cloud-like’ sculptural skin. 

The towers, rising over 80 stories each, will house condos, a new OCADU campus, and a gallery space to house the Mirvish's collection of modern art.

More renderings after the break...

Gehry's Software Enters the Cloud, Promotes Paperless Construction

There are many ways that the architecture profession has lead the way in environmentally friendly design - but when it comes to the process of creating buildings themselves, the industry works its way through huge amounts of paper. Frank Gehry, through his offshoot technology company Gehry Technologies, is aiming to change that.

The company has recently announced that its GTeam software, which has so far been available for less than a year, will now make use of Box, a cloud based storage system that is well suited to large files associated with complex 3D models that are often required in designing buildings.

Read more about Gehry Technology's new software collaboration after the break

Frank Gehry’s Facebook HQ Wins Approval

A new phone isn’t the only Facebook news making headlines, as the social media giant has received the green light from the Menlo Park City Council to move forward with their headquarter’s expansion on the outskirts of San Francisco Bay, California. The approved plans are a slightly toned down version of architect Frank Gehry’s original proposal, as the flamboyant butterfly-like wings which flared from each end of the 433,555-square-foot building have been removed. 

“They felt some of those things were too flashy and not in keeping with the kind of the culture of Facebook, so they asked us to make it more anonymous,” stated Craig Webb, Gehry’s creative partner. "Frank (Gehry) was quite willing to tone down some of the expression of architecture in the building."

After a 4-0 vote secured approval, Mayor Peter Ohtaki asked: “Where’s the ‘Like’ button?”

More after the break...