Financial Wizardry in a Digital Age

An abiding mantra of the digital age is that technological progress has resulted in greater transparency of information and operations across business sectors. As the speakers from “ALT_Finance” can attest, the dictum proves no less true when applied to the real estate and building industries. Panelists for the fifth and final Transforming Architectural Practice event revealed a wide variety of new strategies and online tools currently being employed to procure and finance projects. Continue reading “Financial Wizardry in a Digital Age”

The Potency of Data

“Big Data.” The concept seems to be on the minds and lips of those even remotely interested in business trends in the 21st century. And yet, as alluded to by Matthew Quint, director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Brand Leadership, the reality of Big Data is often misunderstood. During his presentation, the fourth in the five-part Transforming Architectural Practice Series, Quint presented case studies of data usage by corporations, debunked myths about data, and outlined a compelling case for the value of data collection and analysis in architectural practice.

Quint pointed out that data is all around us. It is collected by every mobile phone, appliance, and surveillance camera in the world. The Internet alone generates incalculable reams of it. In and of itself, however, this information has no practical use. It is only noteworthy once it has been parsed, organized, cross-referenced, cleaned, and securely stored. Quint suggested it is only then that data becomes Big Data that can be used to generate a better product or service. Continue reading “The Potency of Data”

An Open Dialogue on Architectural Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is inextricable from the practice of architecture, especially in New York City’s competitive business environment. And, as generations of designers seeking their professional niche have learned, entrepreneurship takes many forms. Traditional practice as a firm principal or managing partner is but one of many routes available to those with architectural training or experience. The speakers at the ninth and final “Leading Architecture in a Changing World” lecture series presented attendees with but a fraction of the myriad options available to the passionate and driven designer. Continue reading “An Open Dialogue on Architectural Entrepreneurship”

2013 AIA Convention Special: Philanthropic Practices Engage Architects in Civic-Minded Optimism

Blake Mycoskie is a town crier of the 21st-century economy, broadcasting to business leaders a proclamation that is as tantalizing as it is unconventional: one can do well in business by doing good for society. Mycoskie, the TOMS shoes founder and “Chief Shoe Giver,” held an auditorium full of architects rapt at the 2013 AIA Convention. He delivered the emotionally potent story of how he started his business and how he learned that he could succeed beyond his wildest dreams by following his conscience and giving to others. Continue reading “2013 AIA Convention Special: Philanthropic Practices Engage Architects in Civic-Minded Optimism”

2013 AIA Convention Special: A Clarion Call to an Overweight Nation

The United States is facing a crisis of historic proportions. Thanks to decades of dependence on the automobile for transportation, our population is overweight and physically unfit. Although this predicament has received extensive media coverage, certain facts are still staggering. For instance, according to a 2005 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the present generation of American children can anticipate a life expectancy five years shorter than their parents. Thus, for the first time in 200 years, life expectancy in the U.S. is on the decline. Continue reading “2013 AIA Convention Special: A Clarion Call to an Overweight Nation”

The Architect as Agent of Change

Telecommuting to a meeting while wearing pajamas. Analyzing data on a laptop over breakfast. Online video conferencing between collaborators in distant nations. None of these commonplace business practices would be possible without the maturation of the Internet and the viability of wireless telecommunication networks. The rapid proliferation of such customs has indeed changed the way that businesses operate today. The physical home office has lost its power; it no longer exerts a centripetal pull over employees. Consequently, such patterns of human activity beg fundamental reconsideration of the edifices that we inhabit. What is an office for? And who does it serve? Continue reading “The Architect as Agent of Change”

Business Stability in Volatile Times: Good Design is Not Good Enough

Steve Whitehorn loves architects. He said as much to the audience during his presentation “Business Performance: Building Stability in the New Norm,” the fifth event in the Leading Architecture in a Changing World lecture series. As the managing principal of Whitehorn Financial, however, he does not love the recent concessions that the architectural profession has made to clients, contractors, and other members of the building industry. According to Whitehorn, the degradation of smart business practices impacts the ability of architects to produce good work. It also destabilizes the profession, now and in the future. Continue reading “Business Stability in Volatile Times: Good Design is Not Good Enough”

When Creating Company Culture, Teamwork Trumps Talent

In our 21st-century corporate climate, the concept of a distinct and palpable office culture has practically become a maxim of good business. A company’s culture is typically based upon specific goals or principles laid out by founders or management, and it is anticipated that exemplary employees will absorb, demonstrate, and perpetuate this ethos. To paraphrase Eric Bacolas, chief talent officer of 360i, a digital marketing agency, “culture is everything.” Continue reading “When Creating Company Culture, Teamwork Trumps Talent”

Digital Strategy: Beyond the Flat-Screen TV

It has always been critical for architects to stay abreast of technological advancements. In past eras, technological changes impacted building systems or typologies, both of which were still reliant upon the laws of physics. The profession could comprehend the ramifications of these changes quite easily, since they merely modified the literal building blocks of edifices. Today, architects have, of course, incorporated digital technology in their practices. But as a means to an end: the physicality of a building. In a rapidly digitizing world, where lightning-fast advancements take no physical form, what is an architect to do? Continue reading “Digital Strategy: Beyond the Flat-Screen TV”

Designing at the Vanguard of Technological Innovation

As architects confront the new economic, environmental, and political realities of the 21st century, the essential practice of building design is called into question. How can one justify a conventional structure, composed of orthodox materials, when problems of natural resource management, overpopulation, and climate change plague the globe? Perhaps, as proposed by David Benjamin, Assoc. AIA, one can use architecture to address a number of these concerns rather than exacerbate them. Continue reading “Designing at the Vanguard of Technological Innovation”