Training future architects

July 2012 » Columns » FROM THE PUBLISHER
Mark C. Zweig

Many of our readers know that I teach entrepreneurship at The Sam M. Walton College of Business at The University of Arkansas. I’ve been doing it for 8 years now and have found it to be an extremely rewarding experience (even if not FINANCIALLY rewarding!)

What most don’t know, however, is that this spring I also started teaching a class at The Fay Jones School of Architecture (also here at the U of A). This seminar class is for fifth year students and called “Everything They Don’t (Usually) Teach You in Architectural School.”

My goals for the class were multifaceted:

  1. I wanted to show students that there are architects who make a good living as architects – a great living, in fact. I brought in some guest speakers from around the country who make seven figure incomes.
  2. I wanted to show students that all successful architects aren’t egomaniacs. See point number one above. My guest speakers (who run firms) were all nice people who know how to treat others with respect.
  3. I wanted to teach students about business. We did this with a variety of lectures on finance and accounting, marketing, project management, human resources management, business planning, organization structure, ownership transition planning and more. These students will now have a leg-up over their peers when they get out into the real world with their first architectural jobs.
  4. I wanted students to learn that there are successful architects who design buildings that don’t shock people and instead actually fit into their context. There’s a misconception among architectural students that somehow you have failed design-wise if you don’t “challenge” the public in some way with your building. Hogwash!
  5. I wanted students to talk to some people in the field who are actually building stuff from architectural plans so they could point out what are the typical problems they encounter. They heard about problems with rooflines and stairs and a lack of planning around plumbing and HVAC, among others. All good stuff.

This, too, has been a really rewarding experience. The architectural students ALL shocked me with their interest in and aptitude for business and management. That was a really pleasant surprise since my assumptions about their lack of discipline were completely off-target. If all architectural graduates are as sharp as my 11 students were it bodes well for the future of the profession!

So, Structural Engineer readers who work for and with architects – I’m trying to help you out the best I can by training your future clients and collaborators!

Enjoy our July issue. And, please pass it around!

Mark C. Zweig,

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