Why do architects choose architecture? Typical reasons include a deep passion for form and a desire to leave meaningful, functional design as a legacy. Rarely do you hear that an architect held a burning desire to do business and THIS was their chosen means to that end. Rather, doing business is necessary to follow their pull toward architecture. And so the industry is filled with capable architects who know little about the mechanics of running a firm. Payroll, HR, marketing, sales and public relations are foreign topics. They want the jobs, but they don’t know how to get them. They need employees, but lack management skills or knowledge of how to team build, recruit or downsize during a recession.
In the coming months, I’ll be writing various articles to address these topics that impact architects running their own business – large or small. We’ll also consider marketing ideas that have a proven track record of helping companies differentiate from the competition.
As part of the 2×8: Source student exhibit at the Architecture and Design (A+D) Museum in Los Angeles, we recently assembled a diverse panel to discuss the business of architecture from the student’s perspective. To a crowd of 60 plus, we covered topics that ranged from getting noticed by employers and taking risks, to applying past experiences and methods of differentiation from the competition. I facilitated our panel, which included: Steven Ehrlich, FAIA; Barton Myers, FAIA; Kat Fern, ASID, IDEC and Nancy Horne, architecture and design recruiter.
The theme that consistently surfaced was the importance of relationship building and the ability to communicate. Those skills set apart those who have excelled. Some highlights from each panelist are below.