No “I” in TEAM

I spent 2014 working with 15 other young architects from around the state of Virginia on a partially hypothetical project without a program, goal or budget, for a real client that didn’t ask us to or understand why we were working for them.

At the beginning of the year only a few of us had ever met before. We had no team hierarchy and no idea what skills and experiences the other possessed. At the end of the year we were expected to present a viable project to city council members and planning staff, and in front of an audience at a large Mid-Atlantic region industry conference alongside such speakers as Bryan Mackay-Lyons.

This experience was the 2014 class of the Virginia Society of the AIA’s Emerging Leaders in Architecture program. Best described as a ‘Learning Lab’ for community leadership, the program throws people together to figure out how to accomplish things in a somewhat safe, but also somewhat risky environment. There was no money on the line or jobs at risk, but our own reputation in front of our peers, city decision-makers and the design community was at stake.

It was more challenging than any ‘real’ project I’ve worked on in an office. A real project typically has a client that knows they’ve hired you, a budget that must be met, a program that must be fulfilled and physical constraints acting on the design. A team most likely has clearly defined roles: a project manager, interior designer, civil engineer, etc. with a defined decision-making hierarchy. But even with all those ‘rules’ it can be a challenge to communicate with team members, have productive meetings, and move ahead with design decisions. A team of 16, all selected for ‘leadership potential,’ faced a challenge in finding a productive mode of collaboration.

As architects we very often end up leading teams made up of different professions and personalities with different goals and motivations. Combining those diverse inputs into a coherent and successful design can be the hardest part of a project. This Section Cut is dedicated to WORKING WITH those diverse inputs, personalities, ideas and drivers.

Kylan's Section Cut

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