Innovative program to encourage more graduates to enter the architectural profession
RMJM, an international
architecture firm with U.S. headquarters in New York City, and Harvard
University Graduate School of Design will announce today the launch of a $2
million program aimed at tackling a global shortage of architects. The
announcement will occur at 6:30 p.m. in Piper Auditorium, Gund Hall,
Harvard Graduate School of Design, 48 Quincy Street, Boston, MA...
RMJM's $1.5 million donation, matched by another $500,000 from the
Harvard GSD, establishes the "RMJM Program for Research and Education in
Integrated Design Practice," which aims to stem a "brain drain" in the
design and construction industry. It is the largest cash donation received
by the GSD since a donation from The Aga Khan in 1999.
Despite the current building boom, many recent graduates from
architecture and engineering schools are choosing to pursue more lucrative
careers in high-tech and management consulting, according to The Society
for Marketing Professional Services, a nonprofit trade association serving
the architecture, engineering and construction industry.*
This dearth of talent could have major consequences for the design
construction industry, experts say.
"Our contact with former students reveals that very many qualified
graduates do not actually go into the profession," says Spiro N. Pollalis,
Professor of Design, Technology and Management at Harvard. "This seems to
be indicative of a wider trend elsewhere. We have particularly noted an
increase in the number of graduates who instead pursue careers in
investment banking and management consultancy."
Dubai and China are most often cited as countries in the midst of a
building frenzy, but forecasters predict a rapid building boom throughout
the world over the next 25 years, from the United States to Kazakhstan.
Large scale retail, commercial, and infrastructural projects are expected
to be particularly buoyant.
"Huge growth is predicted in the number of buildings to be constructed
over the next 25 years," says RMJM Chief Executive Peter Morrison, "at a
time when a high number of designers who graduate from leading design
schools are opting to leave the profession. The loss of architects to other
professions is a global problem. Who will design all those buildings?"
The RMJM Program aims to encourage more architects to enter the
profession by training them to integrate business management principles and
knowledge of advanced technologies with design skills to improve project
delivery, client satisfaction, and bottom line results.
This well-rounded skill set will enable architects to excel in business
by incorporating an understanding of all aspects of the construction
process, from commercial and economic drivers to environmental and
"The future of the industry hinges on architects' ability to regain
control of the design and construction process," said Mr. Morrison. "The
RMJM program at Harvard will present the integration of design, technology
and business management principles to improve project delivery. We
passionately believe that tomorrow's super-designer will be as equally
adept and sophisticated commercially and economically as he or she is
GSD Dean Mohsen Mostafavi welcomed the gift: "One of our priorities is
to facilitate transdisciplinary collaborations -- both across departments
within the GSD and throughout the University. The RMJM gift will help us
promote such an effort through research and innovations in the area of
The program is being kicked off today with a three-day Design Firm
Leadership Conference at the GSD. The event, which focuses on the theme of
integrated design practice, is being attended by CEOs of major design firms
from all over the world as well as faculty from Harvard's GSD and the
Harvard Business School.
RMJM's gift will support advanced student and faculty research; the
development of case studies and curricula for use at the master's,
doctoral, and executive levels; and the dissemination of research findings
through lectures, conferences, and publications.
*"The Looming A/E/C Workforce Shortage," by Kay C. Godwin and Karen W.