Displaying episodes 1 - 30 of 37 in total
When you think of practice operations, you may think of the tools, information systems, and resources that have to be managed on a daily basis. But Marjanne Pearson, founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Talentstar, wants you to reframe how you look at practice operations. It should be about mobilizing all those resources to create value and seek opportunities for transformational change. As a speaker at our Section Cut conference series, Marjanne talked about the future of practice operations and how firms can position themselves for long-term, sustainable growth.
Have you considered a unique firm structure? RIOS’ practice structure might just take the cake, as it is unique at every level. Not only do they have two CEOs, but they have a multidisciplinary office with architects, interior designers, and graphic designers all working together. What really stands out about the practice is its values. Things like audacity, joy, and agility top a list of core values that are all about breaking the rules and doing something new. During this Section Cut interview, co-CEOs Jessamyn Davis and Andy Lantz discuss how those values are put into action and what they see as their practice’s playbook.
Adjaye Associates, Decanthropy: How To Build Communities As An Architect (w/ Farida Abu-Bakare, Ian Rolston)
Now more than ever there’s an opportunity to design with purpose, and with a goal of equity so that spaces are built for everyone. But in order to do that, we need to do two things: keep the new generation of young designers engaged and supported, and involve our clients and communities in the design process. In this Best Practice interview, Black Architects + Interior Designers Association Canada (BAIDA) co-founder Farida Abu-Bakare and Director of Advocacy Ian Rolston explain how two-way mentorship, developing a voice, and learning from the communities you build in can transform the architecture industry.
In a world of seven billion people and counting, innovative design has become more important than ever. From residential to transportation to healthcare, how can we create an innovative built environment that caters to humanity’s changing needs? These are the questions that occupy leading design firms. For Olson Kundig’s CEO Hemanshu Parwani, or "HP" for short, the goal is to source top talent and deploy staff in ways that solve specific problems for clients—and benefit the world at large. Here, HP explains why it's valuable to follow a design-led approach, ask the right questions, and embrace innovation at every turn.
Social media has allowed us to share our ideas on just about every subject. But free-flowing discourse on architecture styles and design careers hasn’t always been available. Katharina Benjamin of Kontextur and Jeff Kaplon of Subtilitas have each carved out online spaces for criticism, conversation, and inspiration while spotlighting topics and architecture offices that don’t get enough attention. On Best Practice, they talked to us about why sharing architectural knowledge is the key to a thriving professional life.
Michael Hsu Office of Architecture: How To Grow From 17 To 71 In 7 Years (w/ Michael Hsu, Maija Kreishman)
Growing a firm by a dozen employees each year can sound daunting. But the truth is that when you look at growth as a puzzle rooted in organizational structure, you can begin to make steady progress. Michael Hsu Office of Architecture did just that when the growth rate of Austin, Texas caused them to grow the firm from 21 to 78 people in just seven years. By doing things like doubling down on culture, working with diverse clients, and fostering employee growth, they have created a firm that is making an impressive mark.
How do you achieve successful growth as an architecture firm? It all comes down to having the right people on your team. Today, there are small 20-person firms that are making incredible revenue and ranking on lists alongside much larger counterparts. There are firms that have been acquired by larger firms, only to see their original talent leave. There is no magic formula for hiring and retaining the best people. But according to Marjanne Pearson, an industry force and the Chief Strategy Officer of Talentstar, there are ways to empower your strategic agenda and fill the roles you need.
What do business strategists and editor-in-chiefs have in common? They both require you to build relationships. Lots of them. As the director of strategy and partnerships at Trahan Architects, founder and editor-in-chief of Madame Architect, and a lifelong collector of mentors, Julia Gamolina is an expert relationship builder. In this episode, she shares how her roles overlap, how she approaches business strategy, and the steps she recommends to follow in her career footsteps.
Most architecture firms are grappling with the question of how technology and data fit into their practice. For many firms, the solution is a self-contained design technology team, similar to an IT department. But at KPF, they’re championing the idea of a digital practice, where technology is a means to deliver their projects in the best way possible. It’s not just support, it’s a way of operating. In this episode, BIM Practice Manager Veronica Quintero and Senior BIM Specialist Alex Wilson explain how their team is integrated into the practice, how they help solve problems for every department, and how they stay on top of training so that everyone knows how to use relevant tools.
In the past decade, the number of small architecture firms has been shrinking while the number of large firms has increased. The reason? A steep rise in the complexity of the projects firms are working on. As buildings get taller and more advanced, firms need bigger teams to handle the scope. And those teams would be lost without a good project manager to organize it all. Flora Bao, project manager at Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), shared what it takes to be an excellent project manager, from soft skills to design knowledge to balancing internal and external goals.
Snow Kreilich Architects: How to Run Operations at a Mid-size Firm (w/ Trevor Bullen and Sarah Hughes)
Life at a busy firm can be a mad scramble. When partners and owners start to wear too many hats, key information can slip through the cracks. Over time, the value of that missed information and haphazard staffing plans can add up. That’s why mid-size firms with a healthy budget should consider investing in a new hire: a financial operations role. When Snow Kreilich Architects hired bookkeeper and architect Sarah Hughes as Director Of Finance + Operations, they quickly felt the benefits.
If you want your firm to become known for a clear ethos, aesthetic, and vision, then you need to fold that identity into everything you do. From the clients and contractors you choose to work with to your office culture and the computers you buy, every action—large or small—should contribute to that overarching vision. This is the case at Trahan Architects. Partner Brad McWhirter and Director of Urban Design Margaret Jankowsky joined us to share how Trahan has forged a unique identity.
The world of architecture is getting more interesting—and complicated—by the day. Sometimes the best way to tackle your projects is to loop in specialists and consultants who have both the skill and network needed to get the job done. Amy Baker is a spec writing consultant and freelance architect who loves digging deep into the “nerdy” side of projects. Chris O’Hara is a founding Principal of Studio NYL, a group of structural engineers and facade designers. Amy and Chris teamed up to walk us through what specialists do, and how they can work to help firms like yours.
To design and construct the best building possible, you need to be intentional every step of the way. From honing your toolkit of best practices to creating SOPs to collaborating with other professionals, excellence is the name of the game. That’s the philosophy of Nick Schiffer, owner & CEO of NS Builders. In this interview, Nick shares his process and explains why the best results happen when builders and architects work side-by-side.
Real estate developers often keep their eye on the bottom line—for them, it’s all about how a property can make money. Architects, meanwhile, focus on design, but rarely have control over the built environment. But it’s possible to do both. Alloy Development is a hybrid architecture-development firm. Director of Construction Alexandra Militano joined us to explain how they’re equally focused on design impact and property value.
There are many ways to grow an architecture firm, and many values that can guide you along the way. But one quality in particular will allow your firm to grow and evolve far into the future: generosity. In this episode Alan Maskin and Jerry Garcia, principals at Olson Kundig, told us how the spirit of generosity has influenced their growth over several decades and runs through their team today.
For an architect hoping to own their own firm one day, there are two paths available. One is the traditional path: starting your own firm from scratch. The other is to buy an existing firm and transition into its new owner. This second option is less talked about, but with the rate of Baby Boomers retiring, it will become more and more important to the future of architecture. Leah Bayer and Kate Conley recently took that path, and created a new partnership at the established firm OJK Architecture.
Shane Balcom joined Rossmann Architecture in July 2020 and hasn’t looked back. Since Balcom’s arrival, the Ottawa-based firm has seen its revenue triple and the size of its team double, thanks in part to the leadership principles the managing director has brought to the table. In a conversation with Monograph’s Best Practice co-hosts Chris Morgan and George Valdes, Balcom discussed the role company culture plays in the health of a company’s bottom line, how routine has created a needed sense of stability, and the best practices he’s instituted to make Rossmann a thriving firm.
The common issues that architects struggle with -- getting paid, project control, long hours -- have been around since the dawn of the profession. There are traditional ways of working that have remained in place even as the world rapidly changes. But Jacob Reidel of Saltmine thinks it’s time to embrace a different way of practicing. His take? Firms should close the loop between design and outcomes, build teams that focus on customer success, and accept that design doesn’t have to be king.
Your firm can’t deliver incredible projects without a great team working in the wings. Building and leading a team is an art form in and of itself. It requires transparency, setting clear milestones, and providing room for talent to grow. Adam Ruffin is doing just that with his two partners at ARCHITECTUREFIRM, a small design firm that is split between two locations and adeptly managing remote work. Adam shared how they are creating a unified vision while being physically separated, how he approaches leadership, and the steps they’re taking to develop a formative culture while growing the business.
Buildings are more than a design made real. They are a collection of data. Firms that leverage that data in their organization will be able to adapt and grow and thrive in the future. But the key to doing so doesn’t lie in the technology tools themselves; it lies in the people in your firm. Architect, author, and professor Randy Deutsch explained how becoming a data-driven company is important for survival. It all starts with building a culture that empowers people, lifts up “superusers,” and puts human needs before technology.
Building science isn’t a hot topic in architecture school. It’s something most architects learn from years on the job site. But learning about the technical processes can help you become a better architect. It can teach you how to mitigate risk and make the best design and execution decisions. Christine Williamson of Building Science Fight Club shared the ins and outs of building science, so we can all be more informed and avoid embarrassing client moments.
Imagine your company’s operations working so smoothly that it’s like you’re a hive mind. Sharing data and knowledge. Anticipating next steps. Solving problems with surgical precision. As COO of Voyansi, a building intelligence firm, Libo Li helped create a data-centered operations program that looked a lot like that.
When you start your own architecture firm, you’re in for the ride of your life. You quickly need to learn how to put together a successful team, partner with the right clients, and save money for a rainy day. Idan Naor learned all of this through trial and error when he started Idan Naor Workshop. The passage of time has allowed him to appreciate good advice and follow his intuition.
There is a saying that you don’t become a good architect until you’re 60. But what if it doesn't have to take that long to acquire major skills and hit career milestones? There is a sizable learning gap in architecture. Marc Teer, CEO and founder of Black Spectacles, is on a quest to close that gap by delivering on-demand software education, test preparation, and career development resources that can push you to the next level.
Do you want to be a JEDI? At HKS Architects, the acronym stands for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. From defining shared vocabulary to setting benchmarks for success, it can be a long process to get such programs off the ground. JEDI Director Yiselle Santos explained why it’s well worth it, and how you can start.
Architecture and engineering are careers that offer a lot of autonomy and entrepreneurial spirit. But these industries also breed chaotic organizations and burnout. Rens Hayes, founder of H+O Structural Engineering, has set out to do things differently. He shared with us how he’s built a people-first business that’s all about value-driven growth.
How can architects benefit from a collaborative platform like Airtable? If you’re interested in getting organized, it’s a no-brainer. Airtable’s own Jackie Park joined Monograph to explain how Airtable features can help hone your firm’s operations, from FF&E to recruitment. Whether you use Airtable or something else, the best part is that digital tools can free up more time for the creative work architects love.
Common is the nation’s leading co-living brand operator. That means it’s two things at once: a housing company and a tech startup. It's a company where designers bridge the gap between software developer and property developer clients. It’s a unique role for an architect, and no one knows that better than Jenn Chang. Jenn started out as Common’s very first architect. Today, she serves as the company’s Vice President of Studio, Common's in-house design and construction team. Both Common and Jenn’s success has hinged on adaptability - and the ability to learn from lessons along the way.
PR can seem complicated. But Tiffany Rafii knows that the right marketing strategy is a game-changer for every industry. The CEO and co-founder of UpSpring PR, Tiffany has been running her full-service communications agency for the architecture, design, and real estate markets since 2009. Today, her 25+ person team leverages digital and strategic PR to increase brand awareness and market share for dozens of companies.
Get the Best Practice Newsletter
A weekly review of architecture practice operations in your inbox