New Book: Professional Practice 101

2 Aug, 2006 By: Michael Dakan

Explore some new architectural theories and perspectives.

A new book from publisher John Wiley & Sons, Professional Practice 101, is a thoughtful examination of architectural practice today that would make very good reading for new students of the discipline as well as for practicing architects who perhaps are seeking new or different approaches to how they do their work. The author is Andrew Pressman, FAIA, but it is sprinkled liberally with many essays by different authors in architectural and related professional fields including such diverse disciplines as medical, legal and education.

The different writing styles and perspectives of individual architects and professionals keep the tone of the book fresh and lively, avoiding the tedium found in many textbooks. The book is also well researched and footnoted throughout to identify the source of the information and quotes when the text originates from someone other than the primary author. The result is a book that seems to represent the current consensus and thinking about a number of different methods and philosophies of architectural practice, rather than just the ideas of one individual.

The best way to see the scope of a book when you first pick it up is to review the table of contents. Professional Practice 101 contains these chapters:

1. Practice, Practice, Practice -- What it means to be a professional

2. Do the Right Thing -- Ethics and professionalism

3. The Firm: Commodity and Delight -- Firm structures and typologies

4. Project Management -- Managing clients, teams, time, etc.

5. Making a (Financial) Statement -- Necessity of financial management for firms

6. To Market, To Market -- Marketing and presentation tools and techniques

7. Laws and Order -- Legal aspects of practice (includes a section on electronic documents)

8. Risky Business -- Risk management and liability

9. New Methods of Service and Project Delivery -- Models for practice, including Virtual Architectural Practice

10. Nontraditional Practice -- Alternative career paths

11. Social Responsibilities -- Leadership, mentorship

The chapters offer a thorough discussion of the issues and alternatives in architectural practice. Many chapters contain “Top Ten” lists of methods, skills or techniques. All chapters contain at least one case study -- and sometimes several -- of successful practices, tools and techniques used by firms, in addition to the previously mentioned interspersing of essays by outside authors on related subjects and perspectives.

Altogether, this informative and interesting book could help many types of people in architecture and related fields -- administrative staff, clients, contractors -- or anyone interested in learning about professionalism and the current practices of architects. It is also timely and up-to-date with many issues related to AEC technology, such as electronic documents and methods and their impacts on the changing architectural profession.

A Research Paper on the Multidiscipline Collaboration Methods of Architecture

What if the data representation parts of the Web were designed with architectural methods? What would it look like, and how could it be more informative, useful and useable? These questions arose in several discussions I have had with friends and colleagues. I recently found an academic research paper on the AIA Web site by Jim Agutter and Julio Bermudez of the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Utah, titled Information Visualization Design: The Growing Challenges of a Data Saturated World. Although it doesn’t directly answer the questions, the paper makes a convincing case that the multidiscipline collaboration methods and education of architects make a good prototype for solutions to the challenges facing many seemingly unrelated endeavors in our rapidly changing world.

More and more, the world is driven by data for analysis and decision making in most endeavors, from business to medicine and the arts. Most often the data derives from several diverse sources and specialized disciplines, and finding ways to visualize and make sense of the data requires an ever-increasing need for collaboration and interdisciplinary orchestration. These are skills in which architects have long had the need to be educated and must practice on a daily basis. This architectural research paper examines the application of multidisciplinary methods to the data visualization and analysis needs of three contemporary fields: anesthesiology, computer network security and intrusion detection as well as cyberPRINT, a visualization of live art performance art, such as dance.

You can see the data visualization results for these three disciplines by downloading the complete research paper in PDF format.

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