2017 Focus on Architecture and Business
With several of my 30x30 architecture projects underway, I’ve decided to narrow my focus for 2017 on two particular areas; architecture design and business. Based on my experiences last year, I’ve learned that I’m not particularly good at multi-tasking and I constantly say yes to opportunities that come my way. In order to prevent myself from spending time on opportunities that aren’t aligned with my vision for my future, I’ve decided to turn down or refer some opportunities to my friends so that I could develop my expertise as a designer and future business leader.
Why spend more time in architecture design and business?
After talking to my architect friends throughout the United States, I’ve found that almost 90% of them have been the drafts person for projects for the past 5 to 10 years. They’ve been developing Revit models and drawings as directed by their project managers and architects over and over again for every project. In most cases, these drafts people learn more about building construction through this process, but there was always something missing from their experience. What is it?
An understanding contractual agreements, project budget, and hourly rates.
Many of my friends, myself included, are always simultaneously working on several projects and spending countless hours on making the perfect construction document set, coming up with the best design, or developing conceptual graphics for a project. This happens with very little knowledge of how much time the firm agreed to spend on these activities, the contractual obligations that we have to abide by, and our hourly rates to help us stay below our budget and increase the firm’s profitability.
There’s a fine line at every architecture firm where the upper management team has complete knowledge of the inner workings of every project and the supporting members have very little or no knowledge of very particular aspects of projects. This often leads to a top down approach where a project moves down from the principal to the project manager, project architect, designer, drafts person(s), and so on and so forth.
However, when the information is distilled and the game of telephone finally ends with the last person in line, there’s often a miscommunication of the project’s scope of work and weekly initiatives, which leads to wasted time and effort. The people at the end of the line are constantly searching for more information about the project so that they can proceed and produce the necessary amount of work for the project.
As I continue developing designs for my 30x30 architecture projects, I’ve decided to also continue reading books on business written by or for architects as well as other professions. So far, I’ve read through several business books that focus on a range of professions and I’m beginning to understanding more about profitability, staff utilization, bookkeeping, regular budget reviews, and the importance of openly sharing this information with your team.
Things to look forward to this year
My decision to learn more about the business of architecture and to brainstorm ideas for running a successful architecture firm in the 21st century is predicated on two goals. First, I’d like to help the architecture profession continue to grow and prosper by providing knowledge and ideas that could help young architects take on leadership positions or start their own practice. Second, I aspire to be a leader of an architecture firm which means that I have to broaden my knowledge in architecture, human resources, business, marketing, and law.
With my narrow focus on architecture design and business in 2017, I’ll continue developing posts on the practice of architecture and my ideas for structuring an architecture firm in the 21st century for success. These posts will be very similar to two of my most popular posts in 2016; “Almost 40 tips for Starting an Architecture Practice” and “10 Tips for Growing an Architecture firm for Larger Projects”.
I hope these resources will help you learn more about the different aspects of architecture and help you take on a leadership role at your firm. Stay tuned for more!