Firm Culture

These articles analyze the many things which, combined together, define a firm’s culture. These include many attributes such its values, size, and even how many offices it has.


Casey Jones, Ron Bogle, Nancy Easton, and Steve Turckes assess entries in Perkins+Will’s annual design competition in 2011. Recognizing Internal Talent
By C.J. Hughes
Architecture firms are increasingly offering in-house design awards in an effort to boost morale and inspire creativity.


Photo courtesy Perkins+Will

The Name Game Assessing the Intern Development Program
By G. Chaise Nunnally

Now three decades old, has the IDP lived up to its lofty goals?

The Name Game The Name Game
By Martin Filler

The biggest quandary facing some architects is the wording on the door.

`No Need to Reinvent the Wheel No Need to Reinvent the Wheel
By B.J. Novitski

We create ways of doing all kinds of things. Here’s how some firms save the knowledge for future use.

Minority and Disadvantaged: Pros, Cons Minority and Disadvantaged: Pros, Cons
By G. Chaise Nunnally

MBE and DBE firm owners debate whether the designation really helps their business.

In-house engineers make sustainable design work better In-house engineers make sustainable design work better
By B.J. Novitski

Architecture firms are hiring engineers and A/E firms are revamping the way they work. Why? Because collaborating sooner and more often makes their architecture better.

It’s a very good time to develop your firm’s collaboration skills

It’s a very good time to develop your firm’s collaboration skills
By Andrew Pressman, FAIA
During a challenging period in which a paucity of work may leave key employees with increased amounts of downtime, there is an opportunity to examine, hone, and reflect on the art of multidisciplinary collaboration and teamwork.

Illustration © Harry Campbell

Greening your design culture to gain a competitive edge

Greening your design culture to gain a competitive edge
By B.J. Novitski
The troubled economy may allow your firm the time it needs to rethink the philosophies that underlie its design work. It’s an especially good time to think about your firm’s green design culture, and to gain a competitive edge in the process.

Illustration © Edel Rodriguez

Client care: how to keep them coming back for more

Client care: how to keep them coming back for more
By B.J. Novitski
“Client care” is more than a general notion of how to interact with clients. It’s understanding what clients truly want and making sure that everyone in the firm keeps that in mind as they do their jobs.

Image © Robert Dale/

Managing the ever-more-distributed workforce

Managing the ever-more-distributed workforce
By B.J. Novitski
Despite fast communication speeds, modern companies face challenges of trust and control with off-site workers. Each case is different, but the balance can be adjusted with the use of technology and an understanding of the cultural barriers created by geographic separation.

Photo © NASA TV/Epa/Corbis

Making the Most of Your Firm’s Millennials
By B.J. Novitski
Working with "Millennials"— young people who were born after 1980— can be both frustrating or exhilarating. This month's Practice Matters discusses how Gensler and Perkins+Will are embracing the challenges and opportunities that come from developing the future leaders of our profession.

Photo © Getty Images

Creating a firm culture that supports innovative design
By Andrew Pressman, FAIA
Within the workplace, the swift and easy exchange of ideas is vital to the design process. What may not be so obvious is that there are strategies for cultivating this type of creative environment.

Photo courtesy IDEO

Firms embrace the emerging role of the sustainability guru
By Russell Fortmeyer
The emergence of directors of sustainability at firms of all sizes has occurred more rapidly as the green design market takes off. But who are these sustainability gurus and what kinds of roles are they playing?

Photo: © Mark Mainz/Getty Images

What’s fueling the firm mergers and acquisitions trend? Growth.
By B.J. Novitski
In the summer of 2007, two large American architecture firms made news when they announced they were being sold to larger European firms.

llustration: © Corbis

New AIA firm survey indicates that while business is good, the profession itself changes slowly
By Andrew Pressman, FAIA
The just-released AIA firm survey, The Business of Architecture, is essential reading for the profession’s observers because it is the most complete benchmarking of trends such as firm size, economy, project delivery methods, and many other practice concerns.


Not Only Zaha
What’s it like to be a female architect with a soley owned firm in the U.S. today? Record hears firsthand from women in the field.
By Suzanne Stephens
If you go by newspapers and monthly consumer magazines, you might think there is only one female architect designing significant buildings today—Zaha Hadid. To be sure, the London-based, Iraqi-born architect deserves acclaim for her inventive assortment of zoomy structures completed in the last few years. But what about the rest? Aren’t there other talented women architects out there...

Pictured: Sagaponac House, Hariri + Hariri Architecture; Photo © Paul Warchol

Forum: Female Firms, Male Values? Are women trying too much to emulate men's values, attitudes and approaches in order to run successful architecture firms? Comment now.


Crowding the Marquee: The nature of collaboration
The nature of collaboration in U.S. architectural practice can be fraught with ambiguity. A look at firms engaging in new alignments reveals sensitive areas that need to be addressed.

Firms as values-based organizations
The author explores how the establishment of a core-value system can help make a firm an enjoyable, purposeful place to work.


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How multiple offices handle culture
The author explores the challenges of operating an enterprise with many offices, including interoffice communication, reconciling different management styles, and more.

Small Medium Large Part I
Small Medium Large Part II
Small Medium Large Part III
This three-part series explores how firm size effects business practices, growth, firm culture, and strategy. Part I, “Is growth a burden or a blessing?”; Part II, “How Size Effects Firm Culture”; Part III, “Which Size Firm Is Ideal for the Future?”