An Architect’s Journey
Have you ever wondered what it means to be a small architectural firm? We did. So we asked a simple question: Why be a small architectural firm practitioner? And so began the journey. What we found was a consortium of powerful stories told by our colleagues and contemporaries. Each person interviewed came with varied experiences and antidotes, but all agreed architecture is their passion.
Small firms face a menagerie of challenges. Resources like manpower, contacts, and continuing education have to be developed internally. Common things like insurance, accounting, marketing, and legal advice become time-sinks which interfere with projects and client relationships can become strained. These services can be obtained through outside companies because having them internal are typically cost prohibitive. Many smaller firms have lean margins, which can translate into little financial cushion. A fluctuating economy affects us all, but in a small firm these circumstances can strip any built-up reserves very quickly. If you are fortunate to find talented people for your staff, keeping them can also be difficult.
So, how do small firms survive? Many practitioners develop a network of like-minded people dedicated to helping one another. This type of network can be a company life-saver. Several of these networks are part of the American Institute of Architects. Allowing your employees to explore and develop their skills by doing a vast range of tasks, can entice them to grow with your firm. Each architect has to determine if becoming an expert in one or two niche solutions is better than being a generalist. Being true to your individual strengths will help your make the right decision.
Hiring a small architectural firm has several benefits, too. Architects are able to develop a closer connection through one-on-one interaction with their clients. Growing a deeper understanding of each client and their needs, allows for a more in depth exploration of project solutions. This one-on-one strategy also works well with material representatives and contractors. Enlisting them as allies and team members can ensure better overall solutions to any building project.
In this series of videos, each person shares with us the challenges, solutions, and experiences of working in a smaller architectural firm. The final resulting video culminates with a story that links them together that we believe answers our initial question: Why be a small architectural firm practitioner?
Follow our story:
Bob Borson, AIA, on Small Firm Practitioners
Life of an Architect's Bob Borson, AIA, on Blogging
Talk About It
Bravo! Nice job AIA Dallas, Small Firms Roundtable, Mahbuba Khan and Katie Hitt for integrating video and personal stories into our site.