31 mar 15  | Architect Magazine

Up and Running: Words of Advice for Young Firms

by Nate Berg

In our search for tips to give designers and design firms that are just starting out, we asked leaders of some successful architecture practices to look back to their early days. Their answers range from cautionary to proscriptive, and should offer hard-learned lessons for architects thinking about launching their own practices.

Gordon Gill, FAIA, Founding Partner, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

Starting an architectural firm is both exhilarating and daunting. Like any project, it entails the excitement of limitless potential compounded with a deep sense of responsibility, accountability and, of course, risk. After eight years of practice, our firm has been extremely fortunate.

Looking back, a few thoughts come to mind that we considered and, I think, should be considered when starting a firm. Define a clear philosophy or approach to your practice that is achievable, and hopefully, needed. Surround yourself with individuals you trust who will be constructively critical, supportive, and who have a balanced appetite for innovation and reality. Be involved in the daily decisions of your firm; focus on the culture and the people; intellectual capital is your greatest asset while leadership from afar is a recipe for disaster. Manage your firm carefully; the economics and the design are equally critical; make the tough decisions. They'll be worth it in the long run. Lastly, be brave, think big and have fun everyday. Energy is infectious and breeds success.