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Navigating the Economy: Selections from The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice, 14th Edition

The following articles, all useful resources for managing a practice in a difficult economy, appear in The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice, 14th Edition (2008), authored by the American Institute of Architects. Reprinted with permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Strategic Planning for the Design Firm

Before a firm can be effectively client-centered, it must first learn through its principals to “know thyself.” Strategic planning is the integrated process of examining, deciding, and composing the life of the firm. [section 4.3]

Establishing a Niche Practice

A niche practice is a powerful concept. This section lists some reasons that firms find pursuing a niche practice to be rewarding and challenging and describes action steps for firms developing one. [section 4.4 Backgrounder]

Practicing in a Global Market

The excitement and rewards of working on an international project must be tempered with a clear understanding of the culture of the client, with attention to minimizing risk for the design firm. [section 4.8]

Marketing Strategy and Planning

A strategic approach to marketing — and a plan to attract new business and retain existing clients — will enable an architecture firm to allocate resources to support the growth of its practice. [section 5.1]

Seeking the Project

More than one well-known architect has said that the first job is to get the job. In a world of sophisticated owners and many qualified architecture firms, getting the job can be a challenge. This section includes two Backgrounders: "Proposal Development" and "The Project Interview." [section 5.2]

Staff Development and Retention

Developing a staff of architects requires special attention to, and recognition of, the creative work of the profession. Training can be formal or informal, but it must be ongoing. [section 7.5]

Resignation, Termination and Staff Reduction

Staff departures are a reality in all architecture firms. For whatever reason departures occur, handling these situations well — no matter which side of the desk you sit on — is a mark of professionalism. [section 7.7]

Maintaining Financial Health

Well-managed firms continually assess their financial health and take appropriate measures to stay on track. [section 8.3]

To learn more about The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice, and to purchase a copy, select the link for Store at the top of


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