ADVICE X DESIGN   

F9 PRODUCTIONS INC

F9 Productions, Longmont, CO
THE GAP BETWEEN ACADEMIA AND PRACTICE

 

  1. What skills do you wish you learned as an architecture student that would give you an advantage today?  Were these skills not offered in school, did you avoid them, or did you simply not have the awareness for it?

    Building codes. The only thing we remember going over was ADA, you have to make sure to have the accessibility work.  Doing example projects to research what type of construction is this? What is the occupancy? What is the load? What are your setbacks?  What about municipal codes? It baffles me, the code book relegates and informs so much of what we do. It was not offered.

     

  2. Looking back, what would you do differently while interning and working for other firms? What did you wish you were taught or made aware of?

    When I was at interning at Libeskind, we were doing the same thing as school.  It's crazy.  We didn't look at a code book.  Designing forms, doing giant skyscrapers and giant cities.  It was like school to me.  So if I had started looking at code books, they would of asked me what I was doing because we had older people that did that.

     

  3. Academia creates opportunities for exploration, research, and imagination.  Practice values performance, productivity, and efficiency. Do you believe there is a good reason for the gap between academia and practice?

    The question is will you get the design experience if you have to conform to reality in academia.  It seems like the more we grow the more we want to push down what we do at the firm into academia.  But lectures would be a great opportunity to close the gap by presenting information about specific problems and solutions to real projects.  These types of lectures could be valuable for students. 

    The other problem with the gap is that academia provides too much time.  In practice theres a timer so you have to learn to be more efficient. 
    A lot of schools think they need to teach hand sketching for a whole semester.  Then maybe computers for third year.  In our class, we do hand sketching for concepts and then get into Revit right away.  I have not seen a lack in creative design if you can get students to learn the tools properly.  We need to integrate this more, it doesn't need to be pieced out.

     

  4. Do you recommend young architects that plan to start their own firm in the future to work for small firms, large firms, or is it important to have experience with both?

    I've worked at both.  There's an easy way and a hard way.  And sometimes the easy way isn't the right way. If you want to do mixed-use buildings, the easy way is to work for a firm that does a lot of mixed use buildings. I don't think that size matters, so that if you want to start on your own you can can say that you've worked on and have experience on mixed-use projects, you know what you're doing and its easier for people to hire you.  I don't think it matters that you work for a small firm or large firm.

     

  5. How should young architects determine the value of working at a reputable design firm if doesn't pay well?  How should junior designers define value in this situation?

    When you are young and you can do it by living with a roommate and you don't have much in expenses, absolutely do it.  It was fun for me and it gives you that name brand recognition.  We define value when we are hiring people by looking at their portfolio, design skills, and presentation skills.   But then it's a risk.  We are taking a risk, and its hard to determine what candidates are valued at.  We are supposed to bill out 2 or 3 times what we are paying someone.  So if we are paying someone $10/hr we should be billing $30/hr.  The one advice I would give a prospective candidates is to not over sell yourselves on specific software skills.

 

LEADERSHIP, BUSINESS ACUMEN,  AND FINANCIAL LITERACY FOR SMALL FIRM ARCHITECTS

  1. What changes have you discovered to make in order for your business model to meet your current career goals?

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  3. How do you (or your organization) define the difference between management and leadership?

    I think management makes sure that what needs to get done gets done.  Leadership is about

     

  4. Informed team members make better decisions. Do you discuss firm wide objectives and project specific finances and profitability with your team?

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  6. As an incentive towards efficiency and growth, do you offer, or will you plan to offer, a profit sharing plan for qualified team members? 

  7. What is the biggest challenge in architecture today and what are you doing to solve it?   

 
REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT AND THE VALUE OF ARCHITECTS AS DEVELOPERS

  1. When did you first realize you wanted to become a developer?  What were the drivers?
     

  2. How does your firm organize itself to approach projects from the dual role of architect and developer?  
     

  3. What do you look for in a potential development project? 
     

  4. What portion of your current work is developer driven vs client based?  Ideally, what would you like the ratio to be in the future?
     

  5. How do you navigate between building for yourself versus what the world is asking you to build?

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