This course introduces students of architecture, architectural engineering, interior design, structural engineering, landscape architecture, and other majors to the management and leadership of a professional practice. Using case studies, lectures, written assignments, and presentations by real-world clients and principals of successful design, engineering, and real estate development firms, this course invokes a considered inquiry into the nature and challenges of producing high quality design within the context of the business necessities of professional practice.
The course provides insights into the AEC industry within which design and engineering firms must operate; business plans for starting, managing and leading a professional practice; marketing, branding, and positioning of professional practices; planning and strategic decision making for the professional practitioner; pricing services, professional practice economics and financial management, and methodologies for establishing and negotiating adequate fees, determining true billing rates, and budgeting and controlling firm expenses; general management theory and its application to professional architectural, engineering, interior design and other professional firms; the unique nature of design firm organizational culture; risk assessment and mitigation; succession planning, ownership transition, and design firm valuation.
Students meet and hear from speakers from architecture, real estate development, engineering, planning, and interior design firms. These speakers provide a unique perspective on the AEC industry. Some students have subsequently joined guest speakers’ firms.
This course helps students understand the business, economic, operations, and marketing aspects of the firms they join upon graduation, provides them with a foundation for advancement, and the essential knowledge for eventually starting their own firms.