Archinect - mal-practice 2022-09-29T05:06:06-04:00 well, well, well. look at what's about to blow up the "gig" economy... Gregory Walker 2019-09-12T17:37:00-04:00 >2020-06-29T22:01:04-04:00 <figure><p><a href=";w=1028" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img src=";w=514"></a></p></figure><p><br></p> <p>a mere 5 years on from my <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">last post on contract employment</a>, the <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">recent rumblings</a> out of my native state this past week should have every architecture firm re-examining their h.r. practices pronto.&nbsp;</p> <p>to wit: the new law in california (AB-5 for those who track these things by their bill name) in part codifies a 3 part test first defined by massachusetts to determine if someone is truly an "employee" of a particular company. they are:</p> <p>an independent contractor must be free from the control of the hiring entity</p> <p>an independent contractor must perform work outside the normal scope of the hiring entity&nbsp;</p> <p>an independent contractor must be an independent established practitioner of the trade performed.&nbsp;<br></p> <p>the california law carves out exceptions for a host of professions, including architects and engineers. however, these exceptions are not permanent and certainly may not show up in other states' laws (oregon and washington state have already had legislators step forward to announce their inten...</p> labor day laboring... Gregory Walker 2014-08-30T20:03:00-04:00 >2014-09-04T20:06:37-04:00 <p><img alt="" src=""></p><p>some random reading that you may want to labor through this holiday:</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">bim needs ownership</a> - will the architects rise up and take the territory? ever?</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>a good selection of seamless panorama's of alvar aalto's interiors are <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">now available</a> through google views. (and while you're at it, revisit dan hill's <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">thoughts</a> on finlandia hall, aalto's greatest 'mistake' ever?)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>i'm not sure if yves behar is truly the most influential designer in the world, but his business model is certainly one of the more sustainable. you can check out some recent articles <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">here</a> and <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">here</a>, coming on the heels of fuseproject's partial buyout by a chinese conglomerate (reportedly 46m for a 75% stake). &nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>in a related story, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">google x announced its acquisition</a> of gecko design, to help beef up it's internal design team relative to hardware based projects.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>finally, amazon's<a href=";node=8323871011" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"> launched </a>it's own 3d printing service/storefront. is nothing sacred any more?&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>have a good weekend y'all!</p> economic updates - we're not really 'there' yet... Gregory Walker 2014-06-25T11:08:00-04:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p><img alt="" src=""></p><p>So, the US economy actually shrank at a (mildly astounding) -2.9% annual rate for the first quarter of 2014, according to <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">revised estimates</a> by the CBO.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>You read that right - it contracted. At an 'oh my dear lord, the world could be ending' potential rate, IF it were to last through the year. Specifically, according to the NY Times summary of the report, <em>"...</em><em>the rough winter weather threw a wrench in many categories of business activity, slowing home building activity (residential investment subtracted 0.13 of a percentage point) and commercial building work (which subtracted 0.22 of a percentage point).</em>" (full article <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">here</a>, although it's behind the pay wall).&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>From my personal perspective - and one <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">shared</a> in large part by the AIA's Chief Economist Kermit Baker - it's both gotten better and worse over this year. Meaning, some segments are coming back strong but others haven't kept pace. Specifically, multi-family housing, hotels, and retail in certain regions of the country are rebo...</p> George Nelson Nailed Our Design Fee Dilemma 60 Years Ago... Gregory Walker 2014-06-15T10:08:00-04:00 >2022-06-13T21:03:11-04:00 <p><img src=",+Tomorrow's+House,+George+Nelson.jpg"></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In his 1946 book &ldquo;Tomorrow&rsquo;s House&rsquo;, George Nelson (along with Henry Wright) created a popular, post-war consumer pattern book defining the "house of the future". Equal parts designer, critic, writer, gadfly, and teacher, Nelson at the time was setting up his own industrial design shop, had just been named Herman Miller&rsquo;s new Director of Design, and was in the process of helping introduce what has become defined as the &lsquo;post war modernism&rsquo; (I&rsquo;ll leave this distinction to the small army of <a href=";ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1402754886&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=sarah+goldhagen" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">historians</a> who can talk more eloquently about design in this era).&nbsp;</p> <p>Concluding &lsquo;Tomorrow&rsquo;s House&rsquo;, Nelson sets out educating the reader on selecting an architect, negotiating with a contractor, obtaining financing, etc. The passage below, in Nelson&rsquo;s erudite prose, caught my attention recently as it illuminates so many of the issues we still face in setting &lsquo;appropriate&rsquo; fees commensurate with our efforts:</p> <p><em>"It might be added here that there is no reason to be afraid of going to see a firm of arc...</em></p> out of hibernation... Gregory Walker 2014-06-13T09:07:55-04:00 >2014-06-17T23:56:08-04:00 <p><img alt="" src=""></p><p><em>photo credit:</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The lillies have come and gone around these parts and we're moving quickly into summer. And, it's probably time to bring this blog out of hibernation. There's a lot moving within the profession these days - NCARB's <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">announced </a>a movement to try and finally address one of IDP's core problems (and it's generated a little... <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">discussion</a>); firms are <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">merging</a> again; and the economy is picking up, construction is still<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"> lagging</a> behind the overall recovery).&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>I'll be writing more frequently - all the time off (trying to keep up with our own firm's growth among other items) has created a backlog of topics to touch on.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>For the weekend, take a quick read through Kevin Ashton's <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">reminder</a> that saying 'no' may be the most positive act of creativity...</p> new media, new communications, new books... Gregory Walker 2013-09-27T19:20:00-04:00 >2022-08-27T12:16:09-04:00 <p> <img alt="" src=""></p> <p> In agreeing to review <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Steve Mouzon</a>&rsquo;s latest book, &ldquo;<strong><em><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">New Media for Designers + Builders</a></em></strong>&rdquo;, I&rsquo;ve willingly become a part of an experiment tied to its underlying premise: that the ways we can communicate have proliferated exponentially and that harvesting some basic command of these methods can help us become part of a larger, truly global conversation.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> For the launch today (September 27th), roughly 200 volunteers (including myself) agreed to post their reviews simultaneously and across as many platforms as we reasonably could. It&rsquo;s classic viral marketing; however, it&rsquo;s one of the few I can think of explicitly generated within the design community. How could one resist the moment?</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <strong><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>New Media for Designers + Builders</em></a> </strong>is aimed squarely at people who are web savvy but who may have otherwise not fully thought through how to integrate all the various media options available for them. Broken down into 3 general parts, the book covers the broader context of the construction ind...</p> forget the pritzker, go for the gold... Gregory Walker 2013-07-08T12:02:00-04:00 >2013-07-15T21:41:54-04:00 <p> <img alt="" src=""></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> in the wake of the pritzker prize committee's decision to not act on 'awarding' (technically, the request was to 'jointly recognize') denise scott brown a retroactive medal, another - and perhaps more interesting - opportunity quietly opened up to properly recognize collaborative efforts: at the aia national convention this past year, the aia gold medal criteria was modified. it is, as of january 1, 2014, now open <em><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">"so that not only an individual but also two individuals working together will be eligible to receive the award."</a>&nbsp; </em>coincidence? yeah... &nbsp;</p> <p> (there are, entwined in the flurry of activity surrounding ms. brown's request this past spring, a couple of separate (but not always inter-related) questions: how we recognize collaborative efforts and how we recognize the contributions of women within the profession. in this case, they have certainly collided. my goal today is to focus on the mechanisms of the award process itself).&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> the case for ms. brown at the pritz...</p> skills, education and jobs - oh my! Gregory Walker 2013-05-29T15:04:00-04:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src=""></p> <p> (photo copyright <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">taylor rhodes</a>)</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <em>&ldquo;The market is broken on both sides,&rdquo; explained Sharef. &ldquo;<strong>Many applicants don&rsquo;t have the skills that employers are seeking</strong>, <strong>and don&rsquo;t know how to get them.</strong> <strong>But employers also ... have unrealistic expectations.&rdquo; They&rsquo;re all &ldquo;looking for purple unicorns: the perfect match. They don&rsquo;t want to train you, and they expect you to be overqualified.</strong>&rdquo; In the new economy, &ldquo;you have to prove yourself, and we&rsquo;re an avenue for candidates to do that,&rdquo; said Sharef. &ldquo;A degree document is no longer a proxy for the competency employers need.&rdquo; Too many of the &ldquo;skills you need in the workplace today are not being taught by colleges.&rdquo;</em></p> <p> (emphasis mine)</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> this is the dilemma we're all working through, stated quite eloquently.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> via the <a href="http://%E2%80%9CThe%20market%20is%20broken%20on%20both%20sides,%E2%80%9D%20explained%20Sharef.%20%E2%80%9CMany%20applicants%20don%E2%80%99t%20have%20the%20skills%20that%20employers%20are%20seeking,%20and%20don%E2%80%99t%20know%20how%20to%20get%20them.%20But%20employers%20also%20...%20have%20unrealistic%20expectations.%E2%80%9D%20They%E2%80%99re%20all%20%E2%80%9Clooking%20for%20purple%20unicorns:%20the%20perfect%20match.%20They%20don%E2%80%99t%20want%20to%20train%20you,%20and%20they%20expect%20you%20to%20be%20overqualified.%E2%80%9D%20In%20the%20new%20economy,%20%E2%80%9Cyou%20have%20to%20prove%20yourself,%20and%20we%E2%80%99re%20an%20avenue%20for%20candidates%20to%20do%20that,%E2%80%9D%20said%20Sharef.%20%E2%80%9CA%20degree%20document%20is%20no%20longer%20a%20proxy%20for%20the%20competency%20employers%20need.%E2%80%9D%20Too%20many%20of%20the%20%E2%80%9Cskills%20you%20need%20in%20the%20workplace%20today%20are%20not%20being%20taught%20by%20colleges.%E2%80%9D" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">nytimes:&nbsp;</a></p> just. do. something.... Gregory Walker 2013-05-02T13:10:00-04:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src=""></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> a <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">friendly reminder</a> for all you recent graduates (or those looking for work) relative to those upcoming interviews: it's almost never about who you are or what names are on your resume. it isn't about fancy schools or who your studio professor was.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> it's about what you've done. what you've actually, genuinely accomplished. and to that end, you're primarily limited by your imagination and motivation.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> (from the folks at amazon, via the wsj. yes, it's about mba's, but just replace that with 'MArch or BArch" and it holds up well).&nbsp;</p> up, up and away... Gregory Walker 2013-04-30T11:45:00-04:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src=""></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> everyone's talking about 'green shoots' these days - either <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">they're sprouting</a> or being <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">choked out</a> before they ever begin.&nbsp;</p> <p> green shoots? how about full on growing plants.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> right now... &nbsp;it feels.... busy - at least at my firm. we're winning a lot of opportunities, hiring people, looking to expand our offices. yes, it smells like growth (or <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">bacon</a>. though i really don't understand the attraction).&nbsp;</p> <p> anecdotally,&nbsp;the whole of the architectural market in the u.s. seems busy. or at least busier than we've seen in a long time. <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">hiring is up</a> - perhaps way up over the past year. the best graduates are fielding multiple offers in town and the job placement rates are the highest they've been in a while at our local universities.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> this kind of optimism doesn't extend to the full profession yet - there's still some de-leveraging going on in the market, especially in very specific sectors that seemed to have (to most people) weathered the initial brunt of downturn - science...</p> sometimes a glass is just a glass.... Gregory Walker 2013-03-22T13:38:00-04:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src=""></p> <p> interesting dichotomy of numbers out today.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> on the one hand, the <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">aia's architecture billings index</a> (which i am a participant with) is truly picking up steam over the past few months. at the very least, reading through the tea leaves, it indicates that work is picking up overall. and i can&nbsp;anecdotally&nbsp;back up that claim - we've brought in more staff over the past two months than the past four years combined.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> on the other hand... you get a survey like <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">this one</a> produced by BD in the UK, which indicates a truly staggering number: only 24% of British architects are currently employed by a "company" (i'm not including self-employed in this number, although that's about 45%).&nbsp;</p> <p> 24%.&nbsp;</p> <p> 22% of architects are unemployed (staggering in itself) and 9% have just given up architecture to move on to other pursuits. the numbers are doubly worse for 'non-qualified graduates.'</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> cripes. what are we supposed to think?&nbsp;maybe the glass is just a glass, depending on where you're d...</p> marissa mayer is smarter than you... Gregory Walker 2013-03-03T12:21:00-05:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src=""></p> <p> much ink has been spilled the past couple of weeks over yahoo ceo <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">marissa mayer</a>'s recent decision to require all employees <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">to work inside the office</a>. a vast majority of the knee jerk responses have focused in on why at-home workers are <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">more productive</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">have a healthier work-life balance</a> and <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">generally happier employees</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> you know what? all of those reactions can be backed up by some great data and are generally sound, accepted business practices in the early 2000's.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> and they're all wrong for yahoo (right now). this is why marissa mayer is smarter than you.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> yahoo, as a company, is currently a shell of what it once used to be. <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">talent has been leaving</a> in droves over the past few years. <a href="!" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">since 2009</a>, they've turned over ceo's like a line cook flips burgers. revenues are falling, but more importantly, the product focus is a mess. i think most of the employees who've moved to 'at home' working have done so solely to escape the highly dysfunctional and toxic environmen...</p> 5 years on and it's still about construction... Gregory Walker 2013-02-23T09:44:00-05:00 >2013-03-04T23:09:11-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src=""></p> <p> we've been beating this drum, relative to what will help 'right' our economy, since 2009:</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">it's all about construction</a>. <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">all.</a> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">about.</a> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">construction.</a></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> it's really this simple: get construction spending back to 'normal' levels and everything else will fall into place.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> so, it's nice to see people focus on this subject, once in a while (today, derek thompson at <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">the atlantic</a>).</p> <p> at various times, i've wondered why <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">kermit baker</a>, the aia's chief economist, can't pull this information together, perhaps in collaboration with the AGC or NAHB. because, if we're going to make a collective political case to help unwind what truly ails us, shouldn't we be &nbsp;demonstrating the economics involved over, and over, and over?</p> jobs, jobs, jobs... Gregory Walker 2013-02-18T13:57:00-05:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src=""></p> <p> a confluence of articles out today are worth collating and reading in sum. all, as you may have guessed from today's title, are about jobs. or employment. or 'how are we going to get people working again?'</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">robert samuelson argues</a>, yet again, that we're in a particularly stubborn situation right now. the economy is moving, just... slowly. in a nutshell, there's just not enough demand being created. 'why' is more effusive - the places we can generate demand are easier to pin down: it has to come from a mix of consumer, business and government. right now, it's a triad of paralysis: consumers are saving more (those who have jobs), while cutting back on 'non-essentials''; businesses, responding the weakening demand, are hoarding cash wherever they can and are reluctant to 'anticipate' demand. the government, which should be the spender of last resort (to jump-start demand), is... well, we all know that score. don't bet the bank on the government moving first. (although, really...</p> some super reading this weekend... Gregory Walker 2013-02-03T03:32:00-05:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src=""></p> <p> so we have a har-bowl after all. bleah. can't really root for either team, so it's time to catch up on some reading...</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> following up on my last post, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">it really is all about teams</a>...</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">you a winner? or a loser?</a> hope you're the former...</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> about that <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">corner office</a>...</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> i really, really want to be one of <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">the cool kids</a>...</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> of course, since i'm not, i'll just listen to <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">someone who is</a>...</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> i'm probably going to buy <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">this handlebar</a> on principle (even though i don't own a bike right now).</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> the <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">construction forecast is generally up</a> for 2013, although the wall street types aren't as optimistic as the industry guys...</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> i love libraries. so, it's nice to see that <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">pew has devoted a section</a> to them. and, there's some <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">nice conversations</a> about their future ongoing.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <a href=";" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">the paperman</a> has only been viewed 8.5M times, half by me alone.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> are you ready for the <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">circular economy</a>? or does that article belong in the <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">circular storage file</a>? (wait, did you think i ...</p> team of individuals... Gregory Walker 2013-01-20T02:03:00-05:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src=""></p> <p> well, it's getting to be crunch time for the nfl. my current hometown falcons are playing a meaningful game in late january, we still have the option of a 'bi-coastal tech bowl (sf and new england/boston)', a all-bird bowl (falcons/ravens); the 'har-bowl' (as nominated below)* and whatever you want to call atlanta/ne.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> accordingly, teams are on my mind. since my last post, in mid december, &nbsp;we've added 3 new people to our firm. that's roughly a 33% gain. there's more work, new challenges and a crazy desire to keep the momentum up.&nbsp;more importantly, i really, really like our little team.</p> <p> most of us will work in situations where teams come together for a short time, create something, then move on. those teams will be put together internally (which pm, pa, staff, etc.), as well as between different companies. it's incredibly difficult to get the same team working on more than one project - inevitably, someone's moved on, been swapped out - whatever circumstantial events th...</p> wrapping up some presents early... Gregory Walker 2012-12-10T00:52:00-05:00 >2012-12-17T17:45:45-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src=""></p> <p> it's going to be a full sprint through the beginning of the next year, so finding time to develop any of the topics on my list is....well....going to be impossible. but there's some loose ends, throughout the year, that i'd like toss out for your holiday reading pleasure:</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> for those of you interested in the fiscal cliff (<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">or curb</a>. or <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">speed bump</a>), one of the central questions is: how do we balance increased revenues and spending cuts? we can't cut infrastructure (<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">it's killing our long term competitiveness</a>) and entitlements are still the third rail. is <a href=";utm_source=pulsenews" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">this plan</a> really the <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">best way forward</a>? or should we <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">just drive off the cliff</a>?</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">karl and bill share</a> how to double your salary and companies growth.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">chris dixon</a> has been a revelation to me the past year. he's also impressed the founders of silicon valley's <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">andreessen horowitz</a> &nbsp;who've brought him on as a partner. get acquainted with his writings by looking at <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">'agency' problems</a> (talking about what happens when an indivi...</p> skills vs need vs fees Gregory Walker 2012-11-25T23:34:00-05:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src="" title=""></p> <p> for anyone "looking for a job", the following equation will almost certainly drive the decision about how much pay will be offered:</p> <p> (fees/expenses) + ((skill-sets+need)/availability) = rate x (duration of project)</p> <p> or some variation thereof. in shorthand: the rate's driven by a combination of the fees and expenses (direct costs) of a project, combined with what skills are needed and the availability of people who possess those skills. in classical economics, if the skill-sets are rarer and in higher demand (say, someone who can design a BL-4 lab in their sleep, combined with a sudden rise in the number of BL-4 labs needed to combat the coming zombie apocalypse), the pay that worker can obtain will be higher than someone who possesses more common, average or less quantifiable skills.</p> <p> at least, that's the longstanding theory.</p> <p> over the past 10 years (but acutely over the past 3 or so), manufacturing sectors have lamented the so called 'skills gap' between what they've looke...</p> the future of profit per partner... Gregory Walker 2012-10-14T20:45:00-04:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src=""></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> if you've lasted 4 or 5 years in this profession, you know that entry level wages for architects aren't the highest among the 'learned' professionals. <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">constantly</a> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">bemoaned</a>, it's a murky subject, shrouded in a lot of secrecy, and fueled by fierce competition in the marketplace. it's the root of a lot of mistrust between firm owners/partners and their staff it's also the result, in part, of a shift in how professional staff are thought of: once we had 'the architect' and less skilled drafting labor. now... a lot of professional staff act as the drafting labor at many firms.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> generating answers isn't easy and today's post isn't going to attempt such an unified answer. instead, we're going to&nbsp;quickly highlight where a firm owner or partner may be coming from in this equation, by examining one of the more important factors motivating them.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> a few weeks ago, the nytimes ran a <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">great though largely unnoticed article</a> in their legal blog which chronicles the woes of partner...</p> contract assassins Gregory Walker 2012-09-11T08:57:00-04:00 >2022-03-16T09:16:08-04:00 <p> <img alt="" src="" title=""></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> yet another post about the rise of the <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">contract worker</a>.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> yes, there are people for whom this kind of lifestyle is something to be desired. but my experiences and discussions tend to confirm the opposite: most people <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">crave stability</a>. not all, but most. for a ton of obvious reasons that have been studied by sociologists before: <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">it's harder</a> (significantly) to put down roots, start a family, take a mortgage, etc. without a some kind of stable and predictable income that helps support a kind of lifestyle. this kind of destabilization can exact a long term <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">mental toll on some people</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> now, this isn't the same thing as an entrepreneur deciding to strike out on their own, taking a second mortgage to finance the dream (creating a whole other level of insecurity let me tell you). that's by choice. you're jumping in willingly. but this isn't most people. and even though most businesses will fail early on, not all businesses entail excessive amounts of financial risk to thei...</p> some thoughts about the labor market... Gregory Walker 2012-09-06T10:30:00-04:00 >2022-03-16T09:16:08-04:00 <p> <img alt="" src="" title=""></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> recently, we put our first advertised job posting out in four years. there's several reasons for the time lag, not all of them due to the economy or a downturn in our fortunes. on the contrary, we've done relatively well- steady, but well - during that stretch. the biggest issue is we haven't had much turnover in our professional staff. two, to be exact, and both were moving on for personal reasons than anything else.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> so, when we decided to open this position, we naturally included an ad on archinect as part of our strategy. paul and the archinect staff have put together a <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">wonderful primer</a> about how to improve your chances - it's definitely worth the read and i won't pretend to be able to add to it. and i'll say we did get responses. a lot. over 80 in 7 days. for a little ole firm in atlanta.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> what amazed me, though, was the types of responses we received. and, maybe, what it says about the market right now.</p> <p> <br> to summarize quickly: we were looking for a project...</p> a little labor day story... Gregory Walker 2012-08-31T14:42:00-04:00 >2012-09-03T20:10:58-04:00 <p> <img alt="" src=""></p> <p> what's been danced around, mostly, as the great recession has lingered on is exactly what kinds of jobs have been lost and what kinds of jobs are coming back.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> it comes as no surprise to see, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">in the nytimes today</a>, a report that validates this supposition. the upshot? as you can see from the chart below, the vast majority of the jobs lost over the past 4 years paid between 21 and 41k a year. the vast majority coming back are entry level positions, primarily in food/hospitality and retail sales.&nbsp;</p> <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img alt="" src=""></a></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> without researching the background data at the moment, i'd wager that a significant portion of those midwage jobs are/were in the construction or related sectors. if so, it simply amplifies what i'd like one of these candidates to address: how are you going to help spur the construction sector? because our economy is stuck in neutral until you do...</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> happy labor day indeed.</p> let's produce something... Gregory Walker 2012-07-30T08:45:00-04:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src="" title=""></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Today&rsquo;s meditation is on the &lsquo;producer&rsquo;. No, we&rsquo;re not referring to a grocer or sales generator. For our purposes, we&rsquo;re looking to the recording industry for some inspiration.</p> <p> <br> A <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">producer</a>, in the world of recorded music, is the person<em> &ldquo;whose job is to oversee and manage the recording (i.e. "production") of an artist's music. A producer has many roles that may include, but are not limited to, gathering ideas for the project, selecting songs and/or musicians, coaching the artist and musicians in the studio, controlling the recording sessions, and supervising the entire process through mixing and mastering. Producers also often take on a wider entrepreneurial role, with responsibility for the budget, schedules, and negotiations.&rdquo;</em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> In short, they&rsquo;re person who helps an artist give shape to the overall production. There&rsquo;s no real rule involved either. Sometimes, the artists themselves are also the producer. But, largely, it&rsquo;s an independent entity &ndash; someone who works wi...</p> one chart, one heart, one.... Gregory Walker 2012-07-09T13:23:00-04:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src=""></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> it's pretty rare that a single chart can show so much about the current state of the industry, but this one, from Macro Monitor, does a great job.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> the upshot? 2.27M construction payroll jobs lost between '06 and '11. only 60k net new jobs since feb. 2011.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> only 60k. out of 2.2M.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> the only reason the unemployment rate for architects (and the construction industry in general) is falling, as <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">grieg o'brien</a> and others have noted, is that so many people have simply left the industry for good or have simply given up hope of finding work. it's not that the jobs have come back.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> of course, none of these numbers talk - at all - about how many people who are self-employed (and can't be laid off in pure unemployment terms) simply don't have enough work to keep their income sustained at previously levels. or how many graduates simply are unable to find work (or documented, payroll level jobs).&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> i don't know how many times we'll have to keep saying this: fix...</p> some sobering numbers.... Gregory Walker 2012-06-18T10:02:00-04:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src=""></p> <p> with the greek election behind us (and mixed initial reactions), let's take a quick snapshot as to where our own economy is. i found <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">this article</a> based on David Rosenburg's studies sobering and enlightening at the same time. the summary?&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;Forty-five million Americans (one in seven) are on food stamps.</p> <p> &bull; One in seven is unemployed or underemployed.</p> <p> &bull; The percentage of those out of work defined as long-term unemployed is the highest (42%) since the Great Depression.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &bull; 54% of college graduates younger than 25 are unemployed or underemployed.</p> <p> &bull; 47% of Americans receive some form of government assistance.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &bull; Employment-to-population ratio for 25- to 54-year-olds is now 75.7%, lower than when the recession &ldquo;ended&rdquo; in June 2009.</p> <p> &bull; There are 7.7 million fewer full-time workers now than before the recession, and 3.3 million more part-time workers.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &bull; Eight million people have left the labor force since the recession &ldquo;ended&rdquo; &mdash; adding those back in would put...</p> too much overhead... Gregory Walker 2012-06-17T15:55:00-04:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src=""><br> One of the more persistent sentiments I&rsquo;ve personally seen more openly laid out over the past few years of this recession is one which claims &lsquo;there&rsquo;s too much overhead at my firm&rsquo;. Most often, this statement is being made by someone who is presumably not part of that &lsquo;overhead&rsquo; and expresses a frustration that a disproportionate level of senior staff are in a firm, relative to everyone else. The effects of this can lead to lower salaries, less chance for advancement etc. It&rsquo;s a perfectly understandable sentiment.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> What&rsquo;s struck me about that sentiment, though, is how the term &lsquo;overhead&rsquo; can be misunderstood and misapplied. &ldquo;Overhead&rdquo; for the purposes of a services firm, are all of the expenses that it takes to run the business apart from direct salaries and the associated taxes/benefits. It&rsquo;s the fixed costs that aren&rsquo;t directly tied to your employee costs. So, in practice, it&rsquo;s your rent, utilities, supplies, office lunches and coffee. It includes all your insurances ...</p> the hole's not getting any smaller... Gregory Walker 2012-06-01T10:22:00-04:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> out from the commerce department today:</p> <p> <img alt="" src=""></p> <p> "WASHINGTON (AP) &mdash; U.S. builders increased their spending on construction projects for a second month in April. A pickup in home construction and commercial projects</p> <p> offset a fifth consecutive decline in government spending.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> The Commerce Department says construction spending rose 0.3 percent in April, matching an upwardly revised 0.3 percent March gain.</p> <p> The consecutive gains pushed spending to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $820.7 billion to March. That is 7.6 percent above a 12-year low hit in March 2011. <strong><em>Still, the level of spending is roughly half of what economists consider to be healthy. (emphasis mine).</em></strong></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Residential construction rose 2.8 percent in April, the best showing in six months, to an annual rate of $256.1 billion. Recent data shows that housing has stabilized after years of weakness following the collapse of the housing boom."</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> upshot? if an indicator which is traditionally 8% of your GDP is runn...</p> yet another mixed housing report... Gregory Walker 2012-05-31T10:13:00-04:00 >2012-06-03T17:46:57-04:00 <p> a quick update today: as reported on tuesday, the latest <a href=";utm_source=pulsenews" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">case-shiller housing price index</a> taunts us with a mixed report.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> the good news? phoenix, denver, miami all seem to have hit their bottom and are rebounding since the same time last year. this is relative of course - phoenix and miami were brutally beaten down from their peaks. but they're heading in the right direction.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> what's also encouraging are the stats about home values relative to a 2000 baseline. by that comparison, the top 20 markets are still up 30+% from their prices then. washington d.c. and new york are considerably up - 70+% in both cases. this kind of holding pattern is a good thing overall.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> now the bad news... if you happen to live in atlanta (like your intrepid soothsayer)... well, the only housing market potentially worse off than yours is detroit. in fact, in year over year decline, atlanta leads the top 20 markets by a healthy margin with a slide of -17.7%(something confirmed by my tax a...</p> why didn't they teach us... Gregory Walker 2012-05-28T10:50:00-04:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> <em>"why didn&rsquo;t anyone teach us &lsquo;business skills&rsquo; in school?"</em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> if a nickel were <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">deposited</a> in my bank account for each time that phrase has been uttered the past 4+ years, i&rsquo;d be&hellip; well&hellip; mark zuckerberg (or at least as <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">wealthy</a> on paper. at the <a href=",0,6211842.story" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">ipo</a>.). what that phrase implies is entirely dependent on who&rsquo;s asking: students and young interns may be lamenting a body of &lsquo;missing&rsquo; knowledge they perceive as vital to landing a job. a 45+ year old architect may be wondering how fend for themselves after being laid off. employees (and even the employers) of a struggling firm may be trying to understand why their situation has come to be.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> part of the answer to that question lies in the <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">demographics</a> of the profession itself: over 60+ of the firms are 1-2 person entities. the balance largely work for 50+ person corporations. (something we&rsquo;ve noted before). the gulf between how each is successfully run is staggering. if undertaken at all, how should the academy approach the topic? br...</p> do the right thing... Gregory Walker 2012-05-01T10:48:00-04:00 >2018-01-30T06:16:04-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src="" title=""></p> <p> last friday, i caught <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">dwain cox</a> of <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">chik-fil-a</a> as he spoke at the atlanta <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">creative mornings</a>&nbsp;series. beyond being a great speaker and head of innovation for the cow-run company, he's also the former owner of his own design consultancy. in fact, as he tells it, the main reason for the jump to chik-fil-a a couple years ago wasn't because of a lack of work or dissatisfaction with running a studio, it was that his group was doing so much work with the home team that he simply decided he could have a bigger impact, in a company he truly seems to love.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> in <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">his talk</a>&nbsp;(which you can check out in a week or so), he outlined a few principles of working with clients (from his perspective as a studio owner and now as the client). so simple, they're impossible to refute:</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> less is better (when it comes to solving real problems). crowdsourcing &nbsp;won't solve everything.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> find and use your sweet spot. this separates the pros from the&nbsp;amateurs.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> clients don't expect you to solve t...</p>