Posted by Brian on January 04, 2003 at 23:27:55:
In Reply to: Re: Advice for Architecture students posted by William on January 04, 2003 at 01:42:04:
Big firms are typically hit worse than small ones when the economy worsens. Even in a recession building owners need to perform repairs and make improvements. Small firms generally are more adept at providing those types of services as well as having the ability to react quickly to a changing market. The downside to a small firm is the potential for only a very limited exposure to the field. It falls on the professional to keep challenging themselves to learn new ways of working, attracting and servicing clients.
Whether in a big firm or a small one the profession generally pays a living wage, at least in the US. The path to maturity in the field is a long one however. It takes ten years or more practical experience before an aspiring architect is a truly productive professional. That is a long road and the pay is not the best during the first five years or so. The sooner one secures their license the better off they will be.
The high profile 'high design' projects are really few and far between. Property developers look to an architect for a lot more than just the building design during the course of a project. Architects do have a bum rap when it comes to fanciful ideas in the built environment. Consider that the breadth of the practice is huge; everywhere from simple permitting exercises to complex socio-economic impact studies. The few projects that throw common sense out the window in favor of artistic expression are the exception. Business generally does recognize the fallacy of the stereotype, albeit begrudgingly.
The internet and electronic imaging will force us to critically reexamine what it is that we actually do and provide. I am working closely with ID types and 3D modeling staff in an effort to answer the one question I hear time and again at the start of a project: How much and when?. Usually it takes time to answer the cost and delivery questions, and so I have taken to employing an element of entertainment value in order to keep enthusiasm high while going through the sometimes tedious work of providing my services.
Our struggle in the design community is to communicate that the work we do is not a commodity, but rather a relationship. Our expertise in negotiating rules, laws and personalities as well as being able to take an idea from paper to building will always be required and well compensated.