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Group 41 San Francisco Architects - Modern Architecture

Group 41 Update

It has been a while since I’ve blogged, mostly because I’ve been overwhelmingly busy.  I am deeply grateful for that fact, being one of the apparently few offices in San Francisco for whom that is true.  I continue to market actively, and am always looking for new, exciting project prospects.  But I thought that perhaps this moment of economic crisis might offer a pause for reflection on business and architecture in this frightening climate.

I have been successful mostly through sheer strength of will, and some novel ideas.  Thinking creatively is, in my opinion, central to keeping a business vital.  There are literally hundreds of architects out there in practice, many of them excellent providers and strong competitors.  I have found that there must be something **very** atypical that differentiates my firm.

My practice focus continues to be on several “unusual” project types:

  • Shipping Container Architecture.  I have been focused for over ten years, having entered competitions and won awards, for my work in the upcycling of used shipping containers.  Though I have yet to find a serious client to build one, I continue to be actively involved in research, discussion, and marketing for this opportunity.  I hope to build one soon.
  • Residential Development Projects.  As my own client for several projects, and in partnership with a small handful of investor colleagues, I have been able to “even out” my workflows in the office.  The challenge here is that it hurts cash flow because the “pay” only comes at the end of the project, with the property sale. But if one can sustain the monetary issues, this is a very helpful business model for architects to consider.  It provides a type of diversification that is unusual, and I continue to feel strongly that this experience brings a special level of knowledge to my other projects and clients.  Having experience as a developer makes us unusually sensitive to costs and project process.
  • “Unusual” commercial commissions.  My work with our Three Twins Ice Cream client has led to other opportunities in that industry.  In addition, the people I have met through our Synagogue client also have provided a new network.

Of course, simply doing a great job for our clients remains the best marketing we can do.  We try very hard to provide unusually comprehensive services, including detailed assistance with materials, fixtures, fittings and other finish choices, as well as offering our contacts lists for aggressively priced materials, finishes, and subcontractors to all our clients.

How to survive the economic downturn?  I will simply continue to look for the most unexpected project types, do the best work I am capable of, and hope that this is rewarded with referrals and repeat clients.

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