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Sherin Wing

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The Indicator: The Next Architecture, Part 7

An article in this week’s Economist about Italian business clusters—that is, where businesses in the same industry form geographic clusters—offered some interesting observations. First, that traditional business models cannot survive global competition. A strategy to deal with global competition includes innovation and building brands. In short, diversification.

This led to a question: how does one approach diversifying architecture firms so that they, too, will be more able to weather economic vicissitudes? For that, let’s turn to Paul Nakazawa. Of course, there is the more “traditional” model of diversification: “many architects have several different kinds of SEPARATE businesses, which serves to diversify dependency on one source of revenue. The time-honored diversification scheme is teaching and practice — we all know lots of people who do that gig.”

More after the break.

The Indicator: The Next Architecture, Part 6

An informal poll of recent M.Arch graduates resulted in a very interesting statistic: approximately ½ are either unemployed, working for free, or “working for themselves” though many of these new “firms” have yet to win contracts or projects. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, this statistic mirrors the national unemployment rate in the profession. For those who are fortunate enough to gain paying projects, residential remodels seem to dominate.

More after the break.

The Indicator: Keep Off the Grass

PREFACE

Since 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy has been running the Solar Decathlon to promote innovation in sustainable building technologies. The program places twenty collegiate teams from around the world in competition to produce prototype homes capable of producing more energy than they consume and powered exclusively by the sun. This year, the teams received the surprise news that their “sites” have been changed from the Mall to an as yet undecided alternate location. Even though one of the conditions of participation in the contest is to provide for the replacement of damaged lawn areas, the Department of the Interior and the National Parks Service are worried about the grass. Judging from the current state of the lawn, it would probably be in better shape after the Decathlon teams have removed their houses and fixed it.

Here is a link to a heart-wrenching video produced by the SCI-arc/Cal Tech Team. They ask you to contact members of Congress and The White House. Please support the Decathletes by calling, emailing, tweeting, facebooking, and writing.

More after the break.