the architecture of constructing a practice

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    clarity out of the fog....

    Gregory Walker
    Oct 22, '11 7:24 PM EST

    whether you love, hate or are indifferent to frank o. gehry's work, if you've ever really studied his career path, it's clear that he, almost alone among his brethren, figured out how to create a business model that supported the kind of ambition his work aspires to.


    which is a fancy way of saying that fog has crafted a practice worthy of his designs. 


    so, when i ran across this interview at hbr, well, this is the point of a blog, right? to share? really, everything you need to know about starting a business is in this paragraph:


    HBR: Tell me about starting your own firm.

    Gehry: I’m not a businessman, but the business model I set for the office turned out to be a good one. It’s simple: Don’t borrow money. Pay everybody. Nobody works for free, ever. It was difficult financially for the first few years. At the beginning I had to do all the work myself. And then it was hard to get experienced people. They had families; they didn’t want to work with a struggling young architect. So I couldn’t get the technical help we needed, and we suffered for it. Buildings leak when you don’t have enough construction experience.


    • brief, but great interview

      Oct 23, 11 12:59 pm  · 

      "So I couldn’t get the technical help we needed, and we suffered for it. Buildings leak when you don’t have enough construction experience."

      seem a very honest and self-aware statement. Although i suppose you have to be to get to where he has?


      Oct 23, 11 6:45 pm  · 

      Nice post, as usual. You inspired me to write a response--thanks!

      Oct 24, 11 6:06 pm  · 

      Rock on, Frank Gehry!  He's a grumpy old man and proud of it and has every right to be both.  He pays his interns - suck on that, so-called 'star'-chitects whining about how young ones have to pay their dues to move up.

      That comment about separating his fee from the office's fee also partially confirms a rumor I heard from a client that wanted to hire him once.  Smart man, clearly! (Being in LA, I wonder if he ever works for scale?)

      Oct 24, 11 9:35 pm  · 

      nicole - thanks (nice article as well). wish i'd written it...


      donna - you know, i thought the same exact thing - i'd heard from a university client that there was a very large 'Gehry participation' fee on a proposal they had received. which they clearly chalked up to the 'star' factor at play, but which was probably misunderstood by them. smart idea though...

      Oct 24, 11 10:38 pm  · 

      Yep, that's the same thing I heard, also from a university.

      I will soon start charging my clients a special fee for me to personally respond to their emails, rather than delegate that task to my office assistant (aka my dog).

      Oct 25, 11 11:45 pm  · 

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About this Blog

Central to the blog is a long running interest in how we construct practices that enable and promote the kind of work we are all most interested in. From how firms are run, structured, and constructed, the main focus will be on exploring, expanding and demystifying how firms operate. I’ll be interviewing different practices – from startups to nationally recognized firms, bringing to print at least one a month. Our focus will be connecting Archinect readers with the business of practice.

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