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If as an Architect You Don´t Know About Business, You Are Out

If as an Architect You Don´t Know About Business, You Are Out

Architecture education was never designed to prepare you for the entrepreneurial side of running a practice. In the minds of the creators that constructed the system which stands for what you now know to be the path to getting licensed, you were never meant to start a business in architecture prematurely. There is a code, a set of rules that drives you to obey and follow a one-sided vision of success. 

However, the gap between the education you traditionally obtain at the university has never been as evident and problematic as it is today. 

We live in times of information revolution. Technology brought us connectivity and with that new ways of doing business. Therefore left and right we can see emergent business models that have nothing to do with their traditional counterparts. All this potential that can easily be pursued by individuals in the field of technology, business, marketing, personal development, sports, and many other disciplines, had us as architects reevaluate our options.

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Image Courtesy of IE School of Architecture and Design

In recent years we saw a spike in entrepreneurial efforts, amongst young architecture professionals. But with that came the struggles of the real-life challenges brought by a simple lack of business acumen. 

Over recent decades the built environment and architecture industries have maintained an inward-looking attitude, keeping themselves outside of relevant conversations with other and overlooking opportunities and new territories to conquer. The future of the built environment will require leaders with an expanded and renewed vision of the field: leaders with the sharpness and skills to identify real-world problems coming from a wider range of sources, who are able to transform them into innovative and impactful business opportunities that connect better with society and add more value to it.

This situation begs to question the traditional education model provided by our universities and whether or not, it is actually enabling and empowering new innovation, or halting our progress. 

Because think about it, in today's society there is tremendous potential for development and innovation, and this shouldn’t just be limited to the tech industry. Architecture, building material, construction, engineering require technology to advance. We are keen on developing global innovation labs, where research and experiments are conducted on futuristic design solutions. But the general approach to this development, from the business perspective, still follows completely outdated actions.

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Image Courtesy of IE School of Architecture and Design

We consistently see a trend where research, no matter how advanced, is kept just as that- as an academic study, and rarely makes it to the market as a feasible business opportunity. 

Now why do you think this is such a common issue in our profession?

I would blame it on one thing and one thing only: 

The traditional model of architecture education does not equip us to practice. It breeds academics, thinkers, researchers, writers, designers, visionaries but not business people. 

And I am sorry to say, but the harsh reality is that projects and innovations are only as good as the support and traction they get to make it to market. 

Commerce drives this world forward, and yet many of us fail to capitalize on our innovations, keeping the visions and solutions in the concept category. 

Look at the progress we made in the last decade alone. Entrepreneurship has emerged as the most compelling economic force the world has experienced in the last decades.

Today more than ever we need a new educational model to teach students how to innovate and compete in an industry that is increasingly outward-facing.

Systemic education revolution is absolutely necessary, but it can not stay limited to molding technology with design thinking and calling it innovation. In order to progress and create more opportunities and success in this industry, we need to teach entrepreneurship to the next generation of architects and designers. 

It was never more true that architectural education needs to strike a balance between the theoretical and practical aspects of the profession. Architectural courses need to teach students to take a proactive role in building their careers. Without that we actively disable our generation, contributing to the array of fear and worry about the future.

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Image Courtesy of IE School of Architecture and Design

An encouraging example of entrepreneurial thinking in schools is the IE School of Architecture and Design, which for more than ten years is now developing leaders and entrepreneurs who shine in the world of Architecture, Engineering and Construction.

My absolute favorite are the efforts of the Master in Business for Architecture and Design that aims to help student entrepreneurs realize their innovative projects and transform service concepts into viable startups, therefore leaving them already as active business people, with products in the market.

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Image Courtesy of IE School of Architecture and Design

Because of their pioneering approach to education, I invited program director Jerónimo van Schendel Erice to the 1-5th May five day virtual Business of Architecture symposium called DISRUPT. His presentation at DISRUPT, entitled “The Entrepreneurial Designer: Why is Business Vision Crucial for Architects and Designers,” will discuss the current state of affairs in the architecture industry, pinpoint the skills necessary to forge a strong next generation of young architects and designers, and explore how the master’s program he directs gives answer to this pervasive lack of business and management elements in today’s architecture and design education.

The First edition of Disrupt brings you SOM, Gensler, BIG, Snohetta, Perkins and Will, UnStudio, Zaha Hadid Architects, OMA-AMO, ARUP, Safdie Architects, Woods Bagot, Amanda Levete Architects, WallaceLiu, Simone de Gale and many others. Get your Symposium tickets now as they are at a 50% Early Bird discount available only until 1st of April. Because if you’re serious about your career and actually want to achieve

About this author
Cite: Sara Kolata. "If as an Architect You Don´t Know About Business, You Are Out" 18 Mar 2022. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/978740/if-as-an-architect-you-dont-know-about-business-you-are-out> ISSN 0719-8884
Image Courtesy of CapitaLand

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