When in architecture school, we each had a professor who told us that architecture should be practiced for the art and the art alone. “If you want to make money”, he said, “quit now, take a walk across campus and enroll at the business school.” Some took the advice, left the profession and today are earning a nice comfortable salary. Others heeded the warning, believed it and carried on the long standing tradition of starving artist.
I believe there is another way.
Despite the bitter professors out there, there is nothing wrong with being a financially successful architect. We can be true to the art and still be compensated well for what we do. In fact, we SHOULD be compensated well for what we do. (I will save that rant for another post, another day).
There is a new generation of architect emerging from the defeatest mentality of the last few decades; architects who want to “change the world” AND be profitable doing it. I call us the Entrepreneur Architects.
Many Entrepreneur Architects are pushing the boundaries of the traditional practice and taking it to new heights. Others are using technology to offer new or improved services. Many more are supplementing their work as architects with personal passions such as writing, speaking or teaching. Many retail ventures have also been launched by architects, offering products such as lighting, plumbing, furniture or accessories.
The architect is, once again, emerging as “leader”. Master Builders (architect-led design/build services) are recovering from near extinction and offering services to the high-end, as well as mass market clients. Home plans are being designed by architects and offered as an alternative to the mass produced “builder” market. Advocates for “good design” have built very profitable businesses around evangelism for their cause.
The renewed interest in “green architecture” is creating an entirely new market ready to be lead by architects. Niche firms speacializing in sustainable architecture and prefabricated homes have emerged.
Society is looking to architects to solve global problems. We have an opportunity to use our problem-solving skills to alter the future of civilization AND make money doing it.
Entrepreneur Architects have a strong belief in the opportunities they persue and are willing to take substantially high levels of personal, professional and financial risks to persue that opportunity. With high risk, comes substantial reward for the architects, their employees and for society as a whole.
In the coming months, I will feature Entrepreneur Architects who are persuing their passions, taking risks and are reaping rewards for doing so.
If you are an Entrepreneur Architect and want to spread the word, here are a few suggestions:
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