Architects and business

TracyNasr

Architecture is one of the most exciting professions one can practice. It is a culture and a way of being unto itself. It is not easy and requires hard work and dedication. But, the question is whether architecture is a rewarding career?

I have worked with many architects over the years and I know for a fact that a lot is expected especially as the profession is progressing in today’s world.

In my quest to understand and assess what most architects get wrong, I’ve asked for their opinions, though some considered the question in itself offensive.

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Some say that a number of architects do not pay enough attention to their clients’ needs and fail to effectively deliver programmatic requirements. In addition, architects are not always capable of designing within the client’s budget.

An architect once told me that he had to accept working on a project even though he knew that the client’s requirements were way higher than his budget. The work was completed but the client ended up paying double. He was unhappy but the architect did not care much as long as his employees were made busy.

Would the client hire the same architect to do another job or even recommend him to someone else? Without valid justifications from the architect, the answer will definitely be a big “No!”

What should have happened? A compromise should have been established to redesign the project using value engineering techniques so that most of what the client wanted are incorporated but within his budget. The majority of people I interviewed agree that architects have poor business acumen.

Architects are creative, very talented and knowledgeable and thus usually lack business savvy. With the exception of large international firms, many architects don’t earn enough money and very few have a business plan.

Howard S Raabe Jr. owner of Raabe Associates in New York told me that “not having a business plan is like building a building without a plan. It’s going to go wrong!”

He added: “There is so much forced undercutting of fees while expecting the same services with no decrease in liability or costs. We are our own worst enemies. Rather than refusing poorly paying commissions we embrace them.”

Others consider the lack of technical expertise that usually faces young architects. What sometimes happens is that rushed architects ‘copy and paste’ details from previous projects without changing them to fit their new project.

That only proves that not all architects have the same level of skill in different areas of the architectural world. However, the deficiencies of some should not stain the whole. With the large number of working architects, being an architect is not a privilege but a challenge.

Architects at the completion of any project of their own design and creation, are often left with a feeling of discontent: Could I have done better?

What do some architects get wrong? Maybe their choice of career.

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