Corporate Architecture Firms

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I've been working at a large firm in the interiors department for close to a year and I am now considering whether to leave or stay. I have a job offer from a small 30 person arch/interiors firm. I am particularly surprised at how hierarchal the structure is at this large architecture firm and how all design is controlled by the final say of the "principals". This is not what I expected from the initial interviews.

However, I am worried that I am giving up something good especially since the work is not difficult, the benefits are great, and the work hours are completely reasonable. 

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Aug 13, 19 10:23 am

What matters to you?

Aug 13, 19 11:48 am

I work at a smaller size boutique specialty firm of about 25 people.  Frankly, I love it.  Mostly because you learn to do everything.  I get to be a part of the process from the design kick-off meeting through closeout.  I get to consult directly with clients and consultants, research products, coordinate schedules, and have direct oversight over the drawing set.  Additionally, my bosses are very open about picking up new skillsets.  I have gone to them multiple times wanting to learn something new and as long as it makes sense for the office/my projects, they support me.  I have never worked at a large firm, but I get the impression that this is not the case at most places.  

If any of this matters to you, I say go for it.

Aug 13, 19 11:57 am

Just make sure the small firm isn't just as hierarchical as the big one.  Small firm size doesn't always equate to open and democratic.

That said, a place like thatsthat describes would be good upgrade for you if you are interested in professional growth.

Aug 13, 19 12:28 pm

This. i work at a "smaller" firm now (80 ppl) which is much more hierarchical than the massive firm i used to work for before. Dont be fooled by appearances, and try to find someone inside to talk to about the firm culture before you make the leap.

Chad Miller

Just be aware that a hierarchic structure can occur at any firm size.  I've worked for smaller firms in the 6 person range where only the principals designed and you where there so serve her.  

Aug 13, 19 12:31 pm

Word! Some of the starchitect wannabe small practices are even more hierarchic than large corporate firms whose older partners are more than happy to mentor younger designers.

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I am wondering whether having the "firms name" on my resume for X-years is better for me in the long run or going to a firm where I can learn more and ultimately do more.

Aug 13, 19 12:51 pm

I would advise staying for at least one more year if you can..


Employment for more than one year is always better looking on a resume. Consider sticking around a bit longer and utilizing the resources of the big firm to do things like get your license, LEED-AP, etc. before you go. The reasonable work hours are a great help when studying for your professional credentials.


Thisisnotmyname makes a good point. If your current firm is willing to pay your exam fees and they have a library of study materials for you, it may be ideal to stay for a year just to complete your exams if you haven't already. Plus, it'll look better on your resume to be licensed instead of the inevitable question of 'why aren't you licensed' coming up in the interview.


It's amazing how this time frame has shrunk to a YEAR.


Agree with many above, but mainly I would say it depends on if you are proud of the work you are doing. If you like the benefits, hours, etc for the larger firm, it looks good on your resume, and you are happy with your work? Then stay, but if there are any hesitations it is best to move on before you regret it. 

Aug 14, 19 3:27 pm

Large architecture firms are great on the CV, but keep in mind most people are generally looking to also see who your clients were, what engineering firms did you work with, what hotel brands maybe, etc. The firm itself isn't the only thing that matters when you're interviewing!

Aug 15, 19 2:05 pm

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