This image really speaks to me. I think it illustrates the greatest problem in architecture practice. The hierarchy of offices are set up mostly as managers and “managees”. There really is no place for collaboration or any challenging of the status quo. Sure offices say they value the opinions of the interns and non-managers, but the whole hierarchy leads itself so that their ideas have to be greatly filtered before they reach anyone who can make any decisions. Now this is partly good, many interns don’t know their proverbial ass from their elbow when they first join an office, but I fear that a lot of stale architecture is made because the firms designing the buildings are top-down. The principals work with a lead designer who has a vision and then everyone else works to craft that vision. Studio Managers take direction from the designer, and in turn direct project architects, who craft red lines and cartoon sets so that the interns can generate drawings. All those layers are like the children’s game of telephone, in every step the designer’s ideas get diluted by management, and in the end even if the design was steller the final product is usually mediocre at best.
So I’ve been reading a bunch of management and business books lately at the urging of my boss. Specifically they’ve been Good to Great by Jim Collins, Mindset by Carol Dweck and Results by Gary Nielson. All of these have a similar idea in them: Don’t be afraid to look in the mirror and see what is wrong with your company/person. Once you identify what your non-successes are, then you can decide to either focus on them, or let it go. It is only through continued analysis and correction will you be able to excel and succeed. Taking this to heart I’ve been analyzing the failures of all the firms I’ve worked for and I feel that they are all the same. The symptoms are different; but in the end, it comes down to employment policies. The common symptoms are a problem with diligence in regards to projects. Important things like making sure opening measurements are to standard masonry sizes and skew angles are whole numbers seem to get lost between design and construction drawings. This problem is like an onion, the ultimate cause is only revealed by peeling away symptom by symptom until we find the core issue at [...]