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7 Tips for Starting an Architecture Firm - Tip 04: Learn from the Bad

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Fri, Jan 22, 2010 @ 06:01 AM

This post is part of the How to Start an Architecture Firm series.

In February 2006, the three of us went to work on forming our own architecture firm. The following is tip number four of seven in our start-up strategy.

Tip 04: Learn From The Bad

architects can learn from the bad

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As every aspiring architect leaves school, they are faced with an important decision, "Where should I work?" This is a tough decision. Go work for a big corporate firm and risk getting stuck on one project for several years or go for a small design-oriented firm and miss out on some of the business savvy of a larger firm? 

Although this is an obvious over-simplification of architecture firm types, many young professionals fret over this decision.

When I graduated from USC, Michael (fellow Modative partner) and I went to work for a medium-sized (8-15 people) sized firm in Santa Monica, CA called David Jay Flood Architect. My experience at this firm was invaluable. I was given a high level of responsibility managing large projects at a young age. I did a lot of learning on the job.

After three years at that firm, I moved on, working for two more firms before founding Modative with Michael and Christian in 2006. In my time working for other people I learned plenty of good architecture industry practices, but I also learned a lot of what not to do. I call this "learning from the bad."

So while my experience involved working for small- and medium-sized firms, I've come to realize that the type of firm(s) you work for is less relevant than what you gain from the experience. Learning from the bad is a big part of this. Learning what to do and what not to do are inextricably tied. If you never give yourself the opportunity to learn what not to do by watching other people work, you're more likely to make those mistakes when you're running your own firm

Whether you don't like the way your boss manages projects or you made a big mistake on a set of plans, you will no doubt encounter  plenty of negative situations working for others. These bad experiences are invaluable when you decide to start your own firm.  File them away for when you're the boss and have to decide how to run your firm.

So, when the time comes to start your firm, will you make the same mistakes or will you learn from the bad?

Stay tuned over the next several weeks as we fill in the last three tips of our 7 Tips for Starting an Architecture Firm.
los angeles modern architecture firm

7 Tips for Starting an Architecture Firm

00 architect firm

00 Bootstrapping

Not a tip, but a critical theme in our start-up adventure.

posted 12.03.09

01 architect firm

01 Be Cheap

posted 12.08.09

02 architect firm

02 DIY (Do It Yourself)

posted 12.18.09 

03 architect firm

03 Get Advice

posted 12.22.09

04 architect firm

04 Learn from the Bad

posted 01.22.10 

05 architect firm

05 Start and Stay Small

posted 03.03.10 

06 architect firm

06 Stay Flexible

posted 04.05.10
07 architect firm

07 Plan It Out

posted 03.13.12

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Tags: Los Angeles, los angeles architects, architect advice, Architectual Practice, Starting an architecture firm