WIA February Meeting Discussion Topic: Architecture:Evolving Profession?

At our last meeting we discussed issues raised in the following article: ‘Facing Up to  the Numbers’, by Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson (Architect Magazine, September 2010)  http://www.architectmagazine.com/education/facing-up-to-the-numbers.aspx

 Here are the questions we posed and some of the responses from our members:  


Question 1)      Do you agree or disagree with the article?


i.      ‘Agree’ – Unanimous show of hands

Question 2)      What sources of change in the profession do you believe are affecting the shifting realities of architecture?

Reference: Paragraph 3


i.      Recession

 ii.      “Bottom line” / Value engineering

 iii.      Fewer opportunities leads to increased competition

 iv.      Architects fees are changing

v.      ‘Finance’ drives it

vi.      Finding possible opportunities in disaster relief?

vii.      Architects taking control over the building design and processes

viii.      Understanding how to sell

ix.      The perception of ‘Architects’ that we are here to make money, (we are not intending to be ‘starving artists’)

 x.      Are we a ‘Business’ first or ‘Architect’ first?

 xi.      Make sure we emphasize the value of what we do while in school and when we communicate to a client

Question 3)      Should we think of adjusting the school curriculum to encourage/ force cross-pollination between fields (such as real estate development, and business)? Should we work to maintain this mindset after graduation through the Intern Development Program?

References: Paragraph 15 | “You weren’t supposed to talk to one another, and ‘development’ was considered a dirty word.”  Do you think that this is still a problem?  Why?  How can we eliminate this pre-conception? Paragraph 18 | Should a “graduating professional have the capacity to work across fields, use the latest technology to its full potential, and understand the complex nature of urban development.”? Paragraph 25 | At this time, NAAB is leaving the deepest learning on firm management and project management up to the firms, during the IDP process.  How does your firm address this?  Do the Interns believe that they are learning these skills?  Do you believe that the “upper management” is teaching this?


 i.      People want different paths

ii.      This should be the role of the AIA to monitor this need.

iii.      Professional Practice is often taken in the last year of school – too little, too late.

iv.      Combining classes between disciplines can be of great values

v.      Education and professional responsibility

vi.      Integrated programs that teach the structure of business and the flow of money and profits

vii.      Firms should train employees to be engaged (with the business side) from the beginning and show that overall the ‘design’ portion of a project is a very small part of the overall.

  viii.      Money issues should be integrated into the work routine (e.g. understanding the consequences of each hour logged in the time sheet)

ix.      Learning about the different players involved and moving away from the ideas of the past depicting Architects as just visionaries

 x.      The financials should be a basic part of team planning

Question 4)      What can we do to support our fellow professionals?

Reference: Paragraph 26 | “As the profession emerges for the recession and begins to lick its wounds, it’s going to become so competitive that a keen sense of business is integral [to] survival at this point.  What can we do to support our fellow professionals?


 i.      Students want professional advice and help

ii.      We have to discover the root causes of this situation we find ourselves in. We need to conduct more studies and surveys

iii.      What is our economic development path for the future?

 iv.      There are limitations to the curriculum and the AIA should step in

v.      Better communication to client about expectations

 vi.      Increasing our knowledge of the business and administration sides of planning a project

vii.      Pay attention to who architects are as individuals and how they fit into their teams. Firms should support people in different roles

 viii.      Learning the process of thinking through a project and maintaining it

  ix.      Firms should have in-house classes about the business side of the profession

x.      Good mentorship programs are needed in schools

xi.      Combined degrees lead to much better candidates

xii.      Universities should promote team projects across disciplines


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