Preparing for a New Practice Paradigm
As the economic tidal wave begins to subside, many design professionals are scrambling for a safe haven. Going forward, successful architects and designers will consider marketplace opportunities in profoundly different ways than they have in the past. They will embrace and develop new skills while renewing and adjusting the things they are passionate about.
It was easier in the past, when most of us could readily adapt to the mild rhythms of economic adjustment we had become accustomed to. Creative disruption was relatively kind to our industry. The ebb and flow of the economy over recent decades, coupled with technological advancement, had resulted in incremental changes in design and construction processes. For example, many of us who practiced during the double-digit stagflation period of the 1980s recall when phased design and early construction document packages became a way of doing business. This approach enabled construction to commence much earlier and with substantial cost savings. Similarly, design-build and GMP contracts became more widely accepted as effective ways to deliver new buildings.
As the recent long period of economic expansion coincided with advances in technology, the design professions have evolved in new ways. People newer to our professions may find it striking that just a couple of decades ago, a pair of computer-aided design and drafting stations with a compatible plotter cost upwards of a half-million dollars. Within a few years, this early CADD equipment became worthless as it was replaced by inexpensive and increasingly powerful personal computers. These are but a few reminders of how creative disruption has continually changed our business. Most of us would agree that the transition points have been relatively smooth, notwithstanding the occasional intervals of modestly higher unemployment during the milder periodic recessions.... Continue to article...