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Architects retool skills in ‘new paradigm of practice’
The design and construction industries, while subject to periodic minor economic corrections over the past few decades, have been hit particularly hard during this recession. For architects, estimates of unemployment and underemployment range as high as 25 percent.
While some sectors of the construction market have remained relatively healthy, it will take time for the demand in overbuilt markets such as housing and commercial real estate to catch up with supply. And while it might be tempting for some design professionals to simply wait until the economy turns around, most are proactive about retooling their skills to be successful in a new paradigm of practice.
As the primary voice and advocate of the architecture profession, the Minnesota component of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Minnesota) is helping its 2,400 members build new skills to practice effectively in the years ahead. Last year, our organization collaborated with the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management to more fully understand business challenges faced by our members and to identify future strategies.
Through research, interviews, and surveys of architects and industry partners, a number of key issues were identified. Skills of practitioners to receive greater focus were articulated. The good news for architects is that competencies traditionally associated with our profession are predicted to be in high demand in the future.
Big-picture analysis and comprehensive problem-solving skills will be more important than ever in our built environment as client needs and accompanying constraints become ever more complex. Such skills traditionally associated with architects are already proving beneficial in this current economy as new integrated team relationships with contractors are forming to deliver projects more quickly and efficiently.
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