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I want to know is what other architects opine about this because I think that architects should have higher salaries, and they should be fighting for that. Martin Luther King achieved it. Why don't architects? I will want people to appreciate more architects in society.
Please don't compare Martin Luther King and what he was fighting for to Architects and their "predicament".
This must be a fucking joke, right? There's a slight difference between against racial seggregation and fighting for a buck extra. You are aware of the "subtle" difference, right?
Other than that, I adhere to the "if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys"-principle.
good point, usernametaken, paying in peanuts won't cut it, rather, you have to pay in alcohol to get architects and contractors
You do not understand my point. Why is not architect's salary high as other careers? Because it should be higher. I'm tired about asking architects because none of them understand that it is a career that is suffering and not having a good time. Tell me if an architect does not have to make a great sacrifice only to graduate. Why is architecture career longer than other ones? I understood your point too that comparing this with Martin Luther King is too extremist, but tell me if architects are earning good money as a civil engineer or lawyer. This is the fucking problem. Architects don't want to struggle for something that they deserve. Thus, it is impossible to change the career if a lot architects negatively think about their future. Architecture externally change but not professionally.
I sometimes get calls about violations work in Chicago. People are working for less than $50 an hour and are willing to cover the time for Zoning administrative adjustments for free. Architects are giving their time away in a race to the bottom. There's no way to do a professional job for the kind of fees that are being quoted. This is real problem in our our profession. I don't know what the answer is but Architecture as these people are practicing it, is an unsustainable enterprise. The field will be culled of the weaker players and hopefully our rates will stabilize and become symmetric with the amount of work and risk we take as professionals. You cannot do a $100 worth of work for $20 and expect to stay in business or do a good job.
Since 20% or so of the Architects are self-employed and the other 30% are employed by giant architectural services companies, their pay is largely performance based. And while many might not agree, architects in large firms are often handsomely rewarded for their work. The AIA's compensation report for 2008 and 2005 states that workers in large firms make on average of 10% more than other workers— ~60% of firms pay more to those was Master's degrees with an average increase of salary of about 5% and ~60% of firms have between a 1% to 10% increase in salary upon registration.
The median salary for all architects is $89,800. This is not chump change.
It comes down to a percentage game— architects will only make a percentage of what they bill out. This predominately affects self-employed to medium sized firms the most.
So, what exactly is the issue? People have no idea how much architects actually cost.
This brings me to the second point. Architects are not the ones deciding how much they make. Pick up any construction estimation book.
You'll always see in the cost estimation data for various structures of various build qualities that these books always give an estimate of between 6% to 8% of construction cost— more or less an average of $9 a square foot.
Because architects cannot and usually do not openly discuss their fee structures, other people will openly discuss them— remember you have about 4 interested parties fighting over that 18%-20% of project costs that makes up the building's total amount. Price-fixing is a serious crime: it is, however, only a crime if two professionals in the same field talk about it.
Architects, unlike construction or engineering, don't have interested-but-detached third-parties fixing prices for them like Mcgraw-Hill or Reed does for contractors and engineers.
The idea that pay in our country is "performance based" is one of the great lies of our time. Much of our economy behaves more like a cartel where the options are limited and rigged. Look at CEO pay.
You're spot on about people not knowing what Architects actually cost. But they don't understand what we do and therefore don't understand the value we add. So they think we should be free or almost free because we don't seem to be doing anything of value.
You make an interesting point about the availability of fee information. I'll have to look into it more!
Well, I meant performance-based as you only get paid for completing and finding new jobs.
To contrast this, a customer-service representative or a mailclerk gets paid whether there's any actual work or not. If no mail comes in or no customers called, they're paid to be at a post. Now, you can attach a performance matrix of how quickly mail gets delivered or how satisfied customers are with their service. Architecture firms, on the other hand, don't enjoy the luxury of receiving income for remaining idle unless they're on some sort of retainer for consultation or expert advice. In that sense, it is very much an input-output relationship.
I will even accept that sometimes architects, while losing money on a project, can be compensated with "respect," "buzz" or "admiration." So, in the more abstract, compensation can also include intangibles. And this is something entirely not quantifiable with Excel-spreadsheet statistics.
But as someone who has learned about architecture from the other side of the fence, my experience would correlate with more of the general layperson's perspective. If I wanted to guesstimate on the cost of the project, there is no manual for "architectural costs."
Instead, I did what every other person without insider knowledge does and reached for a cost estimation manual to learn about architectural fees in the broader role of construction costs.
James, your explanations were really good. So, How do you think architects can solve this problem about their salary? How can they make more money? What are the alternatives if there are? I think what architects should start to do is investments in their projects, but I am not saying that they have to invest in biggest projects. They have to begin with small projects as houses or even smaller projects.
In the words of overpaid Derek Coleman who at the time signed the biggest NBA contract in history: "It's not what you are worth, it's what you can negotiate."
I recently had a conversation with a developer who claims he can get architects to produce free rough schematics based on the promise that there will be commission should the project go through. Most of the time, these projects never get anywhere, leaving the architect empty handed after days or weeks of work. Since an architecture education very rarely ever attempt to scratch the surface of business, you get people willing to work for peanuts everyday. I think this forum provides some really sad examples: "Is 150K too much loans for an architecture degree. I got into Ivy U with no aid vs full ride to Rice, where should I go." These kids are the future generation of architects, and are getting pumped out by schools that are fucking up the profession by sending out an oversupply of hopelessly mal-educated starchitect-wannabee morons into a dry market. until that changes, I can't see the architects' leverage getting any better.
It's all about your network. If you are in with good people, you can negotiate fair compensation. If you're in with sharks, then it's a different story.
I agree WH. If you are good with people and are around other like minded professional who are willing to give you a fair shake, then there is little to worry about. Typically, this applies more to those you've historically developed good working relationships with. However, if you are trying to branch out in this market -whether it's someone fresh out of school looking for work, or companies bidding for a project, it makes it easier for those calling the shots to lower compensation when they know they may likely find a comparable person or company to perform the same work.
I think the network is the most important part of practice. Giant corporate practices and successful small ones both share productive networks. It takes years for some of us to develop them and there are all sorts of pitfalls. I wish we had a class on networking at school.
I want more monies
The price you get for your services is not directly related to the costs or skills involved, but primarily depend on how much the client values it. It depends how good an architect is. His salary depends on his design, his portfolio of work is what really matters. If your work is good, you'll get hired and paid a good amount. And if he satisfies the client well he is paid a good amount. .
Here are few more reasons why architects are relatively paid lower.
Deregulation of construction has led architectural profession into obsolescence in some areas. So the question comes down to "Do I Need an Architect?" .
Also the standardization by the AIA - all architects are equal (and therefore the one that charges the lowest is the way to go)
To follow up on what @burningman said about schools pumping out too many architects into dried up market. In my school graduation rate for architectural students was about 10%. I am not sure if that is lower or higher than the average. Does anyone know stats from their respective schools.
It is a bit off topic but it certainly relates.
What is frustrating to me regarding the pay of architects, understanding that there are exceptions to the generalization that all architects are paid poorly, is that we are unique among the professional services industries where we do not demand that our services be paid for at a set standard of values. For example, lawyers would not provide professional services, thereby rendering aid based on a body of knowledge that they uniquely possess, without adequate payment for those services. They are aware of their value and the value of their intellectual property and demand compensation that is compensatory and commiserate with that value. There are certainly no lack of lawyers, so the fear that a client might turn them down and go elsewhere if the price is too high is not unique to architects. However, as designers, we are willing to deliver services below their value, as well as devalue our services by providing additional free services to ingratiate ourselves into good relationships for repeat business. We allow owners to talk us down and become such an integrated part of the design process that they believe they have a say in how the work is done. Blame for this is spread widely across all parties, not a single actor, but regardless of fault, we have created a dilemma in the industry that needs to change or our salaries will remain low.
Lawyers also charge based on their talent/skills/specialties. So while architects are all lumped together, meaning they are all "equal" (particularly in the eyes of the AIA), lawyers (dr's, graphic designers, etc.) have created a "value" system the pays those with more talent/skills more compensation.
This creates a natural hierarchy, leaving the less talented at the bottom, as the lowest common denominator. Architects, on the other hand, don't have much "value" because there has been no effort to distinguish those with more talent/specialties over those that don't have them. There is little perceived value of one architect over the other, in the eyes of the public (with few exceptions).
Equality = generic = lowest pay wins (always). Until there is some effort to distinguish those with specific talents (ie 'value') and promote their compensation to higher levels it will continue to be competition for the lowest common denominator.
Hey Damir Pozderac,
That is one of the reason why architects should stop depending other people, because if someone does not want to invest in a house. Architect does not have a job. Therefore, he/she does not get anything. That is the reason why architects should invest their money to build their dreams and projects. Tell me if this is not true. Who does not want a house designed by an architect? It is like who does not want a suite by a fashion designer. The difference with architects and fashion designers is that fashion designers create, design and sell the product. Architects do not do that. They just design, but if they would have more power on Business. This would exist : http://archinect.com/navigate/7164851/http%253A%252F%252Farchitecture.about.com%252Fod%252Fbuildyourhouse%252Fa%252Fneedarchitect.htm
Hey Damir Pozderac,
In my opinion, how it is possible that other profession which work less than architects make two times money what an architect can make. For example: a Software designer makes two times more money than an architect makes, and a computer is important but I do not think so that a computer is more important than a house. The profession is never going to change if architects do not try to solve this problem which is affecting them, and the career. Architects have to be realistic, and fix some issues in their career because architecture is not a good career right now. It probably is one of most beautiful and enjoyable, but architects currently need to make good money, and they are not doing it. Furthermore, many people currently want to have the most beautiful houses without paying anything. And, I do not think so that the profession will change if architects are still think pessimistically about how much money they will earn, and their future. Really, an architects change the world. That is something which many careers don't do it. A car could be something good, but we do not travel to see a car. Although, we travel to see a building. This is the best example, How many people just travel to Cambodia to see Angkor or how many people travel to see the Taj Mahal. People travel from the other side of the world to those poor countries. Only to see those magnificent buildings. So, you think that architecture does not affect at all. Thus, you are going to tell me that architects do not deserve more money. Of course, they deserve it because they change world more than other careers in the world.
piero - software can be more valuable because there's a tremendous upside in the scalability of the product. with a 'hit', it's possible to generate hundreds of millions in revenue. a single house is very difficult to accomplish that with. also, that software designer is only making serious money if they're in the right place at the right time. same thing applies with architects, only they don't post on these forums so much.
there's so many other misconceptions above it would take hours to disentangle them. i know several lawyers who aren't making much more, as the owner of their own company, than a lot of architects. corporate lawyers? Sure, they make real money because they can charge real fees. you all know any partners in the largest firm in your respective city? I do. They have to bill 3000 hours a year. Not just work, but bill. I don't hear too many people on these forums willing to put in that time, forgetting weekends, nights, etc. to earn that kind of money (and, yes, there are people willing to work for certain architects who demand that kind of time - those are outliers, not the normal, generic practices). Doctors can make a lot, yes, but they have an insurance system which enables that to work. (Now, if we want to bitch that your garden variety upper management administrator inside a public school system makes 110k a year while clearly not possessing a skillset worthy of that kind of money, I'm all for it.)
The reality is that this gripe always boils down to what entry level architects make; rarely does it center on senior associate levels or above. The envy of other professions is just old. And we've discussed ad nauseum what the problems are. What kind of solutions do people have which lead to earning more? I'll lead with this: for 99% of the projects architects are commissioned for, the client's not looking for a landmark. They want something simple and that will keep the water out. Yet, we don't really want to do those projects quickly or expeditiously - we're too happy to 'create' art where art isn't being demanded. And since time is money, those little projects can't feed our offices or egos in ample enough ways, hence, we lose money unless we depress wages enough to compensate. Multiply that up and across for other projects and you'll start to see the problem. We simply spend too much time reinventing the wheel each and every project. Those that don't make money. Those that do and can find a patron to support the habit, do as well (no matter how they pay their employees).
Any more examples?
I understand your point, Gregory. That is what I mean. Architects should do their own business selling properties. What would happen if architects could design whatever they want because it is their own project? They would benefit society and architecture because architects could design more remarkable buildings. Architects are behind when it comes to business. Architects are not involved in business. Architects make products to other people make business as Real Estate developers. Why do not architects design and sell their products? When I'm talking about products are buildings. Why do architects let someone else do a task that they can do? That is the reason why architecture is suffering right now because Architects never paid attention to business. Currently, architects are living consequences of that mistake. They let real estate developers do a job that they can do too. Of course, I am not saying that architects should be the owner of all buildings but unless many of them. I would tell you something else. Tell me if an architect as Norman Foster wants to create a buildings, but he wants to sell the property. I am sure a lot of people would buy those apartments or offices because a building designed by architect is like buying a suite by a fashion designer, such as, Gucci, Armani, Zegna or Burberry. A lot of people would buy real estates in those properties because architects are famous, and people like that.
I have a question Gregory.
What would it happen if a famous architect, such as Richard Meier or Calatrava, start to sell properties designed by themselves? How many people would buy those properties?
Frank Gehry did it in his early days - worked out well for him.
Look, piero, you've pushed the developer idea on just about every thread that I've scanned. My experience is that, in some of those cases, the architect may indeed have a stake in a development they do themselves. However, financing a development is high risk - it's not just as easy as throwing your name on it. To get that kind of deal, they'd probably have to list their stake in the firm as part of the collateral on the note - that's not going to sit well with their other partners, with their families or their employees. So, my personal take is that, yes, it can pay off but it's not the panacea you're hoping it will be.
Apparently in our city until recently an architect trying to develop something could claim their own architect's fees as equity in a development project thus allowing them to get a higher loan. Now that's not allowed.
I understand what you mean, but I think that architects have to risk to learn because they are always behind everything. That is the reason why civil engineer are getting richer than architects because they risk, and they try something else. Since, a lot of civil engineers currently are general contractors, and architects are not. Moreover, Why can't architects have that right of being a real estate developer if civil engineers can be also general contractors? It is unfair. Civil engineers are dulling architects in many different ways. Right now, architects do not want to spread and idea because everything is a risk for them. This is a new era when risk is good because what it would have passed if Bill Gates would have risked with his idea. Microsoft wouldn't existed, and Bill Gates wasn't too rich as he is.
Piero - with all due respect, I don't think you understand me at all. Architects certainly have the 'right' to be a developer. Many choose not to. Architects can be general contractor's (my business partner is, as are a few others in town that we know). Architects can be engineers, as is one of the people in my studio.
'Rights' aren't germane to this discussion. Neither is what we 'deserve' or don't. If you're pissed off that more architects don't take greater risks, so be it. I'll actually agree with you in concept but don't agree that being a developer is the answer. And Bill Gates is a horrible comparison - he had a wealthy family that provided a certain amount of cushion for him to get his company off the ground. Not a lot of businesses (never mind architects) are that lucky.
(one final thought: even if Meier, etc. were a co-developer in their projects, do you think this would inherently translate to his office seeing higher salaries for what they do? Methinks not - any money he make would almost certainly flow to him and/or his partners alone...)
I just tell you something. Architect's salary is never going to change, because architects are not optimist to do it. They just want to stay like that. So, it is a career with a bad future economy. For the answers what I have seen. Architects do not want to do anything about increasing their salary. So, I just tried to spread some ideas but they do not want to hear me. All of them say that they are bad ideas and too risky. Therefore, I will not try to waste my time trying to convince people that architecture can change. I think architecture is one of most pessimistic careers in the world. Perhaps, I thought that civil engineers were more pessimistic but I was wrong.
Gregory Walker- You know what happens is that you get disappointed that studying and working in architecture needs a lot of sacrifice. Therefore, you think about it. Why am I going to work or study in a career which I need to make a great sacrifice to earn not enough money as I should earn? So, I think that it is one of the reason why many people do not choose architecture, even if they love it because the results are not good. The idea that I'm trying to spread. Firstly, I think it has to be started by big firms, such as Foster+Partners or Skidmore, Owings and Merrill because those architecture firms can show to rest of the people that architects can make more money, and beautify the world.
Donna - where did you hear that? That should be up to the bank to determine what they will accept as equity (some accept the land, assuming it is owned outright, some don't, for example).
Either way, though, it is a very small item on the pro forma. While it is nice to think architecture has a big part of the project, until it is well underway it is a small piece. There are plenty of places to tuck fees away, though. No one cares, really, about the details, just the bottom line.
Pier - you are continually missing everyone's, including mine, time consuming explanations. The most important part of the project is the strength of the guarantor on the loan. You can't just borrow millions, without having millions (and liquid, no one cares about real estate these days).
Furthermore, you keep repeating the same thing over and over. You clearly are not paying any attention to the post myself and many others are taking time to help educate you and discuss your (very, very, very old) idea.
You have not demonstrated anything beyond a school boy's dream of 'making it big'. Show me some real information, for starters, how do you get the money?? Nothing happens without money, not even architecture.
Show me the money!! Dammit.
trace, that's from my local friend who is an architect and yes, a developer of his own very nice local projects. It may be a local thing, I really don't know.
I totally agree with your post, BTW.
A delightful opportunity for upstart developers where I am recently had the kibosh put on it. Essentially, if you wanted to start your own development project that was considered major and you met a number of stipulations (below-market a.k.a. "workforce" housing requirements), various government agencies would allow you to finance your collateral with public bonds.
It hasn't totally be done away with yet. The concept is still in practice, however, in a few places around the country. The justification for it was non-for-profits and developers who were selling units below-market would only be making a slight profit off of each unit that the "loss of potential profit" often was equal to or exceeded the size of the bonds.
Example: I want to build a $30,000,000 development. I could secure a bond for say $7,000,000 at 0% interest. My $30,000,000 development has a potential market value of $60,000,000. I sell 80% of the units at and below market for $40,000,000. Minus the bond, interest and financing, I end up with a profit of $5,000,000.
However, despite showing a "profit," I'm actually in the red $8,000,000 because I could have sold them at or above market rate for $48,000,000. This is because my potential profit was suppose to be $13,000,000.
With creative math and a decent explanation, I'm actually showing that this development was a loss leader because I could have made much, much more. And since a large sum of it has been financed by the government, the investment firm that loaned me the additional $23,000,000 has less of a controlling interest in the project.
Unfortunately or fortunately, the general public has caught onto this little numbers game over the last ten years. Coincidentally, cheap rents and low-cost housing have also completely vaporized since government-bonded private real estate development became a faux pas.
I should also mention that in areas with still active economic development agencies and coherent metropolitan planning organizations are frothing at the mouth to dump their excessively large off-budget non-general-fund money into private real estate projects.
All you need is an established office, a license and a PowerPoint presentation that's at least 5 slides long. Bonus if you use at least two pie charts!
But seriously, if you want the headache of a massive unfathomably complex real estate project and you are willing to only make millions instead of tens-of-millions of dollars, getting finance via government channels isn't too hard.
Just don't have sex with hookers, snort massive amounts of cocaine or get into gunfights in nightclubs otherwise you'll be shooting yourself in the foot.
you guys all got some crazy things to say.
all we have to say is, yes we deserve better salaries... but first we deserve jobs for the amount of school and money we put into it...
Hygienists make a ton more than architects, forget dentists!
Donna - thanks, I'll look into that (doesn't really influence my pro formas, but worth knowing either way)
JJR - please explain more. The developers that I know, and it is a bunch, are having one hell of a time getting financing, low income or not. I do know gov't money is extremely difficult to get these days, particularly since the regulations and requirements are changing daily. The idea is fine, same as it always has been, ie 'subsidized' housing, but with the gov't funding the way it is these days, money is tight.
I do know of specific funding here and that have low income requirements, but it is smaller amounts (your hypothetical project is not something that is happening that often these days).
I am sure some can find funding that have tremendous amounts of cash reserves (or the ones that don't need the funding), but your 'normal' developer is having one hell of a time getting funding for anything.
I'd certainly be interested in specific examples, if you have something in mind.
Why do we deserve jobs for the amount of schooling we put into it? My husband has an MFA - does that mean he deserves to have someone buy his art, whatever he produces, regardless of quality, just because he has a Master's degree? I have a friend with a PhD in religious studies in utopian communities - does that mean he deserves to have his book read by you, no matter how academically focused it is, just because he has a Doctor?
It's hard to put all this time and effort into school and to completely drink the KoolAid - we all have - that architecture can change the world. But religious studies major think their work can change the world, and so do doctors, and artists, and hospitality management majors. To use an old chestnut: when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Architects really don't face any tougher challenges than anyone else.
Sorry if this is getting a little OT, I keep confusing the "higher salaries" and "difficult profession" threads, since they're both pretty much about the same thing.
I think piero should develop a project and SHOW us all how easy it is!
I will never give up because architects deserve more, but I do not think that people are going to pay them more. Therefore, architects have to find a way to make more money. That is my idea. What I want to express with this idea is that is necessary to earn more money because architects would have more jobs with this idea. Since, a lot of architecture firms would not need someone else (such as a real estate developer or client) to realize a project. The other problem is that many architects misunderstand me because they think that I am saying that all architects should invest like that. That is not my idea. The individuals who are adequate for this are the big and famous firms because they have power and money. Therefore, they can start to develop this idea. So, I hope that somebody can understand me. I just tell you something else: Business is like playing cards if you do not risk and bet. You do not win.
Look at these two websites:
Look at this architecture firm in England: http://www.urbansplash.co.uk/
"You have to decide whether you want to make money or make sense. The two are mutually exclusive."
Coming from a family of dentists, I can say that it takes a ton of skill and dedication to become a good dentist.
Architects deserve what people are willing to pay them. If they think that they are worth more than the value placed on them by the public, then they should find ways to get the public to value them more. Increasing the awareness of the value of good design is paramount.
When that important person said that. Money wasn't too important as currently. People were more trying to invent something than making money. In this era, money is an indispensable source. Therefore, everybody needs it. If you said that money is not important as to make sense. Why are architects living poorly right now?
piero - lots of professionals, not just architects, are living 'poorly' right now. Lots of professionals, including architects, are making gobs of cash (or is the 1.7M pound salary that Lord Foster took home last year not enough for you?). Your 'idea', as has been pointed out, is an old one. And one that's valid IF that's what motivates you as a professional (and it has for many architects). I'm not sure what you're really saying short of the fact that you'd like to see the architect at the head of everything and get compensated more. Well, some do, some don't. Some lawyers get paid 20M for doing a few days work (see Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers), some make 4K a month.
Got to actually go earn some money, but if you're serious about moving forward, look beyond development as a savior and look to how the profession can fix it's structural issues.
Greed is not a recent development, it's a part of the human genome. Money has always had the same importance, even before its inception in different forms.
As for Bucky, he never said anything to reject its importance, even though he had some issues with the concept and application of it. He was in fact Norman Foster's mentor, but that's another matter...
The above quote is from his book Critical Path, which was published in 1982 I believe. Read it.
I am not too concerned about. Some of the most rewarding careers don't pay much; think about Artists, Musicians (real ones not the crap they play on the radio, Priests, etc..).
I didn't go into this practice to make money. sure, i wish i made more, but if you want more money change professions.
Please do not compare architects with artist like that because architects do not do the same. That is what many people think that an architect and artist are the same. The only aspect which is similar in them is that architects and artist have a talent in drawing, but their functions in society are completely different because architects have to solve and confront many issues in the real world. However, architects must have more different skills than artist because architects have to good writers and spokespeople, which is something that is not required in the art world. I do not believe that careers related with art are not successful because tell me if fashion designers are not rich or car designers neither, such as Pininfarina.
Please do not compare architects with artist like that because architects do not do the same. That is what many people think that an architect and artist are the same. The only aspect which is similar in them is that architects and artist have a talent in drawing, but their functions in society are completely different because architects have to solve and confront many issues in the real world. However, architects must have more different skills than artist because architects have to be good writers and spokespeople, which is something that is not required in the art world. I do not believe that careers related with art are not successful because tell me if fashion designers are not rich or car designers neither, such as Pininfarina.