With the rise and development of technology, the process of building and designing is now under its influence. Even though integrating new technologies serves mainly for making the work easier and more efficient, it does come with different consequences.
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One may think that introducing BIM can only result in obvious benefits, but it is not that simple. It is possible to note that it “facilitates tighter comparative fee estimates in proposals”, which in turn “often reduces profit and strangles cash flow” (Dickinson par 11.). Therefore, it makes payroll more stressful, especially when it comes to smaller firms. There may be no more need in those firms anymore. As logical as it may seem, artificial intelligence cuts away the need for work done solely by humans.
It is believed that due to the rapid development in technology, more and more designers will turn to practice on their own very soon. BIM is already widespread enough for architects to go fully freelance, not depending on a particular firm. If they start working on that basis with the help of technologies, it may promote substantial professional and creative growth.
More designers choose flying on their own in the business world, as it is even more appealing while working on the creation of consultant relationships at the same time. Without the dread of the payroll every two weeks, they feel liberated and free to search for independent agents like them. According to Dickinson, these architects will have more creative power “bonding with other free radical professionals to mesh for a project here, reforming on another project over there, and maybe going solo in another scenario” (Dickinson par. 13).
In the world of architecture, it means that we will be seeing fewer small firms on the horizon and more loners in the face of designers, who chose to be independent. Thus, the organized corporative structures have to compete with freelance market, as in such conditions of the gig-economy there are many specialists, who are able to draw customer’s attention. On the downside, the separation of duties in organized firms allows them to meet the shortest deadlines, that is why by choosing an individual contractor, in some cases clients may sacrifice their time.
There may be certain limitations to this business model, as going freelance over a firm does have its risks. He or she has to deal with such mundane things as handling paperwork, calculating the architect’s fee for every project. The latter one has a lot of nuances that need to be taken into consideration since only the designer will be responsible for the final numbers. It is fortunate that now there is a new B101-2017 agreement, which simplifies all the calculations.
According to Koger, “for those architects who are frustrated with cost of the work based compensation, B101-2017 may finally have the answer” (par. 13). Moreover, there is a real possibility that the cash flow and time may shift. Handling all the technical problems, solo designers have to be hard-working and patient. Also, working in an office means team effort and sharing experience with others, and being alone in the business may involve certain pressure.
As for me, I am not entirely sure whether I want to try becoming a solo practitioner or not. Working on freelance basis is tempting because of the creative liberty and possibilities to join other “free” designers for interesting projects. However, the downsides of this shift are as alarming, as the advantages are attractive. Handling everything by myself may be tricky and the risks are high enough to be careful considering this business model.
Dickinson, Duo. “The Challenge and Terror of Making Payroll as an Architect“. Common Edge. 2017. Web.
Koger, Michael. “Calculating the architect’s fee: Is there a better way?” AIA, 2018. Web.