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Arkifex | Modern Architecture | Springfield, MO

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Small Architecture Firms Have More to Offer than Big-Name Firms

In the April issue of Dwell, founder Lara Deam makes an argument for younger smaller firms over older firms with more experience. 

Are architects too in demand? It’s not a question I ever thought I’d ask. One of the principles that animates Dwell is that everyone who’s able to work with an architect should. But what I’ve been hearing lately from people in the Bay Area is that firms are turning away clients by the boatload because they’re too busy.

Maybe that’s good news, maybe the industry is on the verge of a boom. Yet I find it hard to believe that all architects in all parts of the country—let alone the world—are swimming in new business. My theory is that people are too keen to work with big-name architects with award-winning portfolios and top clients. They are overemphasizing professional experience and underemphasizing personal connection, simpatico. To them I say, young architects and small studios have a lot to offer. In fact, depending on what kind of ideas you want to explore, an unheralded but accessible designer may be the most suited to you.

Take, for example, the multi-use dwelling in New Zealand in the new March/April issue. In his first outing with his own studio, an innovative architect created a home, art gallery, and coffee stand for his former roommates that flips the script on the standard-issue suburban architecture of their town. He did it with a hand from his clients, he did it on a fixed budget, and, most important, he did it by finding solutions that an architect with decades of experience might not have seen.
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Blaine Whisenhunt