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Financial
Merger Mania Merger Mania
By C.J. Hughes

In tough economic times many architecture firms are being swallowed in a merger and acquisition frenzy, sometimes with unexpected results.

More Profitable Than Ever More Profitable Than Ever
By Charles Linn, FAIA

Two architects talk candidly about how they turned their business around even before the recession.

A Stimulus Success Story A Stimulus Success Story
By Bruce Buckley

When the economy tanked, long-term planning paid off for one D.C. firm.

Got Work? Get Paid Got Work? Get Paid
By B.J. Novitski

There are many ways to get a client to pay, starting with frank communication and looking out for red flags.

Understanding megatrends helps firms plan for the future Understanding megatrends helps firms plan for the future
By B.J. Novitski

Which building types will be taking off in the coming years? What firm management challenges will confront nearly everyone? Studying demographic trends can help you see into the future.

Mediation

Mediation for Architects 101
By B.J. Novitski
Resolving conflicts that arise in the construction process can be quite costly and time consuming. This month's Practice Matters column covers mediation, the first phase of dispute resolution that AIA contracts require before arbitration and litigation can commence.

Illustration: © Corbis

 

Low-income housing tax credits
This article summarizes federal programs that encourage developers to build apartment buildings with units for low-income people.

Programming takes on greater importance
Programming—the analysis of a client’s work processes and their need for space—is a valuable service that can be a profit center for the firms which offer it.

Preservation tax credits at work
The National Park Service’s Preservation Tax Credits help finance the high costs of reusing old buildings. The PSFS building in Philadelphia is used as an example.

Recession-proof your firm
This article was written just before the recession which began in 2000, however, many of its suggestions are worth following anytime.

Use smart contracts for greater profitability
This article explores alternatives to typical percentage-of-construction-cost compensation structures. Architects may use these to make themselves more profitable.

Strategies for greater profitability
The author suggests techniques for improving a firm’s profitability by doing things such as controlling scope creep and making certain clients understand their contracts.

Legal

Architects and copyright law
Two attorneys explain what constitutes a violation of copyright laws, and describe how designs and drawings can be protected by registering them with the Library of Congress.

Pitfalls of Limited Contract Agreements
Agreements that limit an architect’s involvement in contract administration usually require architects to take on more risk. This article details why one should avoid them.

Human Resources
Managing Layoffs

Managing Layoffs
By B.J. Novitski
Making the worst task slightly easier for all.

Illustration © Matthew Hollister

Preparing for that make-or-break job interview

Preparing for that make-or-break job interview
By C.J. Hughes
If you’re trying to get a job, and lucky enough to land an interview, these suggestions from recruiters and firm principals may help you make the most of the opportunity.

Read more about finding work in a bad economy in our Architects’ Survival Guide.

Illustration © A. Richard Allen

Opportunity is the key to hiring and retaining talented staff
By B.J. Novitski
Unless your firm offers opportunities for advancement, educational growth, and creative work, your employees may begin to feel like uninspired worker bees.

Photo © Geoff Brightling/Getty Images

Where independent contractors are concerned, know the rules
By Alec Appelbaum
Architecture firms may need to lure extra hands for all sorts of reasons. One might be to staff up for a sweet opportunity that’s too good to pass up, but is just a bit beyond the capacity of the office.

Photo © Getty Images

Forum: Are you an independent contractor or a person who hires them? Share your experiences

Succeeding at Succession:
Succession plans should be more than schedules for transferring ownership— they should be integral to a firm’s strategic plan to recruit and develop talented staff
By Andrew Pressman, FAIA
Woody Allen’s famous quip, “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying,” perfectly expresses the kind of wishful thinking that often gets in the way of preparing for the future.

Forum: Share an example of a smooth—or not smooth— ownership transition and perhaps a lesson for others who are about to embark on a similar journey. Comment now.

Making psychological contracts with younger employees
This article suggests that employers make the most of the hiring process to forge a strong bond with new employees.

Tax laws for independent contractors
This article discusses Internal Revenue Service rules regulating the use of freelancers and independent contractors, that architects may use to staff up during busy periods.

Marketing
To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

To Tweet or Not to Tweet?
By Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA
Increasingly, architects are tapping into social media to connect with peers and promote their work.

Illustration © Otto Steininger

Sustainability assessments: an opportunity for new work

Sustainability assessments: an opportunity for new work
By B.J. Novitski
Some architecture firms are finding work performing assessments for owners who want to make their existing buildings more sustainable. This kind of work might be a lifesaver in this bear market for conventional design services.

Illustration © Scott Menchin

Could taking on owner’s rep work be a good move for you?
By Alec Applebaum
You trained as an architect, so you work as an architect, right? Maybe not all the time. Some architects are hiring themselves out as owner’s representatives or going to work for salaried jobs at owner’s rep firms.

Image © The Gallery Collection/Corbis

Putting yourself out there:
What to consider when designing your firm Web site
By Ingrid Spencer
Within the last 10 years Web sites have become a firm’s most important means of making an impression on clients, potential employees, and the public. This article examines the ways in which this potent form of communication can benefit those seeking information about your firm—or baffle them. Read on.

Pictured: John Friedman Alice Kimm’s website jfak.net

Firms fish for work in unfamiliar waters
How two architecture firms teamed up with a local non-profit to help make a project that was just a dream into a reality—and, in the process, got the job too.

Marketing Architectural Services
This 38-page pdf is a compilation of Architectural Record’s classic series on marketing. It covers all the basics of starting and running an architecture firm’s business development department.

Competitions: Opportunity or exploitation?
One way to get a job is to win a competition. This article outlines the pros and cons of participating in this controversial, and sometimes troublesome, process.

Doing Business in China
China is one of the world’s busiest construction markets. Consultant Tom Larsen tells architects much they need to know if they’re considering opening an office or entering a competition there.

Positioning your firm to just say no
Strategic business development can help keep managers from feeling they have to accept every project that comes through the door.

Recently Updated Reader Profiles
 
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Risk Management

Strategies for creating an in-house risk-management program
An architect gives commonsense advice on avoiding project management problems, and how to create a risk-management program for an architecture firm.

Managing your practice to reduce professional liability
An attorney makes suggestions about procedures that can help architects reduce their liability exposure, and to protect themselves if a lawsuit is filed against them.

Ethics

When Buildings Fail: Ethics for the Worst-Case Scenario
This article gives architects and other design professionals guidance on how to deal with situations where a building is in danger of failing or has failed.

AIA Code of Ethics
This document is the official 2004 Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct for architects from the Office of the AIA’s General Council.

Fear must not become a form-giver for architecture
The author challenges architects not to allow the forces of terrorism to stifle their abilities to create open, welcoming environments. This article was written shortly after 9/11.

When Buildings Fail: Ethics for the Worst-Case Scenario (unabridged)
This the full version of the article that appeared in the print edition of Architectural Record.

NCARB Rules of Conduct
This is a pdf of the NCARB’s official rules of conduct. It explains concepts such as “reasonable care,” “conflict of interest,” “full disclosure” and other obligations architects must fulfill in order to protect the public’s interests.