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The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice, Fifteenth Edition Released with New Emphasis on Small Firms and Business Management

New chapters on public interest design, research, and diversity available for purchase individually

Much has changed in the practice of architecture since the publication of The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice, Fourteenth Edition in 2008. Many tools that architects take for granted in 2014 were not widely used or available in 2008. More important, that year the U.S. economy fell into the grip of a widespread and deep economic downturn, with a long-awaited recovery just now beginning.

Many articles in the 15th edition of The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice discuss the significant impact of the Great Recession on the profession of architecture, including “Navigating Economic Cycles” by AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA. Chapters on firm management, particularly in the areas of human resources and marketing, benefit from insight gained during this difficult period. Articles such as “Entrepreneurial Practice: Starting an Architectural Firm” offer understanding gained from practice experience about management strategies that respond to the new normal.

Significant changes in technology and project delivery have also taken place since 2008. Architects and owners are increasingly turning to delivery methods other than traditional design/bid/build in an effort to improve effectiveness and reduce risk. The 15th edition includes an expanded section on project delivery, and for the first time in the Handbook, an entire chapter devoted to technology.

While no chapter specifically focuses on sustainability, the topic is not ignored. Just as sustainable design is no longer additive but instead integrated into the work of most architects, the topic of sustainable design has been integrated into other content. This is particularly the case in relation to teamwork, project delivery, and codes.

New to the 15th edition

For the first time, AIA members can purchase individual chapters of The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice, Fifteenth Edition online through the AIA Store. Readers can buy the sections that are most relevant to their practice, from professional ethics and financial management to public interest design and research in practice. Each of the 17 chapters costs $19.95. An electronic PDF version is $179.99. The 15th edition is also available for tablet readers such as iPad, Kindle, and Nook.

Two-thirds of the 15th edition’s content is completely new, reflecting the state of practice in 2013 and looking ahead to emerging trends. In an effort to present the most current information, over 90 percent of the 15th edition’s authors are new to the Handbook, although all are experts in their topics.

New chapters

Diversity and Demographics. This chapter discusses diversity as a practice management issue, and provides a historical perspective on diversity in the AIA. Significant data on practice trends from “The Business of Architecture: AIA 2012 Survey Report on Firm Characteristics” are also presented.

Career Development. Contributions from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) explain the basics of the Intern Development Program and the path to licensure for emerging professionals. For seasoned practitioners, articles cover the regulatory environment of professional practice, including state-mandated continuing education (MCE) and certification as a minority, women-owned, or small business enterprise.

Public Interest Design. This new chapter reflects the growing interest in and participation by architects in activities that benefit local communities and the public at large. It offers many examples of how architects are applying their skills and talents for the public good. Also discussed are the architect’s role in disaster recovery and preparedness, pro bono work, and the profession’s engagement with the nonprofit sector.

Research in Practice. Research is becoming an increasingly regular and integrated aspect of architectural practice. In this chapter, academic researchers who work in practice settings and experienced practitioners who engage in research discuss various topics, including evidence-based design and research in a small-firm context.

More content for smaller firms

For the 15th edition, care has been taken to include information and best practices applicable to architects who practice in small and midsize firms. As a result, a number of backgrounders target small-firm practitioners, among them “Professional Developing and Mentoring in Small Firms,” “Architect-Led Design-Build for Small Projects and Small Firms,” “The Multi-Office Small Firm,” and “Research in Small Firm Practice.” “Small Firm Collaboration” explores ways small firms align with other design firms to acquire and deliver work. And in the realm of technology, “Small Firms, Small Projects, and BIM” addresses the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM).

Expanded business management content

Twenty-first-century business realities require that entrepreneurial architects and their staffs develop skills in business management. The chapters on organizational development, marketing, finance, and human resources contain articles that demystify concepts and introduce firm leaders to best practices in each management arena. For owners of midsize firms with mature practices, there are articles on developing multiple offices and a global practice, and advice on how to maintain a culture of creativity. Articles on ownership transition, leadership effectiveness, the legal context of practice, and more, provide information and knowledge vital to leaders of firms of all sizes.

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