A Look Into The Mind Of An Architect

Architecture practices, more than anything else, tend to be small businesses. The vast majority have less than 10 staff and will not substantially grow any bigger. This is mainly through choice, as most architects prefer to remain as ‘hand on’ as possible when it comes to all aspects of a design project. They spent many years training to develop elegant building solutions and are reluctant to step away from the design aspects of a project.

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Because of their size, these firms are constrained by relatively little administrative support and very little delegation of tasks, meaning secondary tasks are carried out by professional staff. The owners, which tend to be one person or a partnership, take on almost all responsibility. Because of this, architects are traditionally extremely time poor. They tend to be poor managers of the time they do have and often do not budget for different aspects of their work. Capital expenditure is kept to a minimum with around 80% of cost, and sometimes even more, spent on salaries. Despite this high proportion of expenditure on wages, in comparison to other professions such as Project Managers or Quantity Surveyors, Architects are not that well paid.

With time and money at a premium, architects are traditionally suspicious of sales and marketing and do not like to be bothered by companies wishing to promote their latest products. They are resistant to anonymous sales messages, loyal to brands and personal contacts, and wary of strangers. So in that regard, they are not very different to other people.

CAD technician

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There can be no doubt that architects work under an extreme amount of pressure, with clients, budgets, timescales and regulations all to be adhered to equally. In recent times however, the biggest pressure may be the lack of work caused by the recession and a virtual flat lining of income in the construction sector. Larger firms have had to trim down, usually the most junior and senior professionals, meaning that the remaining staff have had to take on even more responsibility and tasks, further stretching their that precious commodity of time.

Staff who are released often set up their own practices meaning more competition. Increasing competition has led to some firms evaluating and adopting new practices and approaches to their workflow. This includes increased online collaboration, remote teams and the adoption of BIM. All of these are made possible by new technology and the internet, and require a certain level of training and capital expenditure.

Darren Lester is a CAD technician who works alongside architects through his company the CADcube from freelancers to large firms so he knows a thing or two about what makes them tick.

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