Architects working as consultants?

five of five

Does anyone here have experience with shifting careers to an architecture-adjacent consulting field (facade/envelope, sustainability, acoustics, code, lighting, etc.), and then shifting back to working in an architecture office later on?

I've always been curious about one of those in the list above but have  been hesitant to actually pursue it because I felt it would be difficult to circle back to an architecture office if I ended up preferring that. Is that a legitimate concern or a bit unfounded? I'm in the 7-10 years of experience range with some specific project experience that (I think) would lend itself to one of these fields.


Sep 27, 23 10:54 am

Not really a big concern - though obviously there's a chance you might get hired for that unique expertise or get slotted into a subject matter expert role after re-joining an architecture firm. The facades groups of large studios probably have enough work for specialists - and that includes the computational folks. ZHA, Heatherwick, Grimshaw, SOM are some examples.

Sep 27, 23 12:00 pm  · 
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Wood Guy

After 12 years as a residential designer I had gained a fair amount of knowledge in the sustainability and building science (energy, hygro-thermal) areas and offered consulting part-time to architects. There was a lot of demand but at the same time my full-service design business was growing and I found it hard to wear so many hats, so I gave up consulting. I still get requests for it about once a week, even though on my website it says, "no consulting." 

I think you can always come back to architecture, but it might be easier the closer you stay to architecture--i.e., general building science would be fine or even a good thing, but window or other product sales might not be as easy to return from.

Sep 29, 23 8:50 am  · 
1  · 

You can certainly circle back.  A few oddball people may be hesitant to hire you because of a perceived gap in your pure architectural practice experience, but narrow people like that are usually running sucky firms.  It will help you parse who not to work for.

Sep 29, 23 11:54 am  · 
1  · 

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