The habits of high-achieving architecture studios

Wrriten by: Redacción Sordo Madaleno | September 8, 2017

You can read this article in: Español | English

The Commission of the Environment (COTE) of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) carried out research among the ten top US architecture studios with the aim of revealing the customs and habits of those offices that stand out internationally for their productivity and high performance, as well as the high quality of their buildings.

We believe that it is worth mentioning the results of this deep analysis to continue to reflect on and evolve the contemporary practice of architecture and those who make it possible.

  1. They raise the bar

By virtually every measure, HPFs excel. Award-winning projects are not accidental—they are the inevitable outcome of creating habits that dramatically increase the likelihood of success.

  1. They are deeply committed

From the principal to the intern, there is an understanding that sustainability is not just an add-on; it is integral to everything. “It’s in our DNA” is a common statement at HPFs. “It’s at the core of our being.” “It’s who we are.” HPFs have the passion and commitment to make sure the job is done right.

  1. They live sustainability

Riding a bike, taking a bus, planting a tree. These are all extensions of the mindfulness of the people at HPFs. They buy products that are Fair Trade or sustainably harvested. They test sustainability strategies in their own homes and lives.

  1. They work with the best

They have a deep understanding of their collective knowledge, and they understand their limitations. If something is outside their realm of understanding, they seek expert advice from the industry’s best partners in engineering, landscape architecture, natural sciences, and information technology. BNIM’s credo, “No one knows as much as everyone,” applies to all the HPFs.

  1. They hire the best

Having a strong reputation for sustainable design gives these firms an advantage in recruiting. They now have the hard-earned luxury of being able to choose from the brightest, most passionate designers from all over the world, and they do. Each firm has their own approach to finding the right people. One commonality across all HPFs is that new recruits have to express and demonstrate their passion and dedication for sustainability in the interview process.

  1. They invest in their people

Return on investment is high when you invest in your people. These firms make it easy for their people to grow. Continuing education is continuous. They support and encourage their people in extracurricular activities. They provide incentives to make sure their people stay healthy. People are the most important asset.

  1. They are not afraid of the unknown

Whether it’s a new product, new materials, or creating new software, their willingness to explore the unknown is where HPFs excel. Risk-taking is part of their cultures. They have a voracious curiosity. Their experience and success allow HPFs the creative freedom to explore new possibilities.

  1. They recognize that great ideas can come from anywhere

Principals and project managers are happy to defer to an intern or facilities manager if they have a great idea. If there is a compelling reason, the idea is implemented into a project or within the organization’s processes. Everyone is encouraged and expected to contribute to design.

  1. They are forward-thinking

If a solution is not out there, they create it. If a building code does not allow it, they challenge it. These HPFs are creating and advocating for tools, materials, and designs that are addressing the challenges of the future. They constantly question their own habits. Business-as-usual is never a given.

  1. They give back

These firms go beyond billable hours to raise awareness about social and environmental issues and elevate the quality of life in their communities. Volunteerism and advocacy are ingrained in their cultures.

Learn more about this research here.

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