Tag Archives: ENTREPRENEUR

#185: WHAT IS ARCHITECTURAL SUCCESS?

April 5, 2024

Lincoln Studios, Santa Monica, California, by Poon Design (photo by Gregg Segal)

As an architect, are you successful? How should we measure success?

(photo by S K from Pixabay)

Making money is an obvious gauge, but there’s more to life than a paycheck.

Good design should count for something, but design is subjective. So success might look towards an architect’s accolades, like design awards and national honors. But there must be more than bragging rights and industry fanfare.

FAIA Investiture Ceremony, 2022 AIA National Conference, Chicago, Illinois (photos by Olive Stays and Poon Design)

We architects enjoy seeing our name in the headlines, as well as photographs of our work gracing magazine covers and online features. But is this the result of being a successful architect or having a good PR agent?

Feature profile on Metropolis (photo by Grant Bozigian)

A portfolio with depth—with projects big and small, local and national—is surely a critical marker of success. Victory might also be evaluated on one’s international projects, evidence of a world traveling architect who jets off to yet another country in demand.

(photo by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay)

Often, the success of an architect is simply having a happy client. And the more clients, the more successful this architect must be. How many new clients did you close this year? But keep in mind that quantity isn’t quality

Design Roundtable, founded by Anthony Poon, at EYRC, Los Angeles, California (photo by Design Roundtable)

Success should come from both collaboration and being part of a team, as well as leadership and managing a team. One’s contributions to the industry should count for something, whether a thought-leader, teacher, community service advocate, or respected professional.

Poon Design Inc., Los Angeles, California (photo by Anthony Poon)

Perhaps, success is identified with the entrepreneurial path, being one’s own boss, having one’s name on the door, and having 10 employees or maybe 100. Or success can be within a corporation with an architect reaching the top of the company ladder, being named partner. Or perhaps doing either quietly under the radar without the need for the spotlight of conceit is worthwhile.

Poon Design Inc., Los Angeles, California (photo by Grant Bozigian)

As a struggling (starving) artist, can an architect be successful? Being part of a creative journey, searching one’s soul for answers, or mining the world for abstract ideas—such ambitious endeavors might be a measure of success regardless of the outcome.

For many, success in architecture comprises the simple things: being challenged and learning new skills.

Poon Design Inc., Los Angeles, California (photo by Grant Bozigian)

Happiness is often one of the more authentic measures of success. I believe most architects are happiest when getting to design, to be creative, to think back to how as a child, they could build things with Lego. It is about being part of open-ended travel through an existence of glorious ideas and imaginative designs, and then seeing such a vision come to fruition.

(photo by StockSnap from Pixabay)

#53: EIGHT THINGS I LIKE ABOUT ARCHITECTURE

January 6, 2017

Contraband & Freedmen’s Cemetery and Memorial Park, Alexandria, Virginia, by Poon Design (rendering by Zemplinski)

(This list is a follow up to Eight Things I Dislike about Architecture.)

ONE.

The social importance of what we do. Architects design everything from a retreat home to a veterinarian office, from a homeless shelter to a public school, from a park to a temple. Doctors have been plagued by insurance headaches. Bankers have confronted corruption. Well, lawyers? Not too much new to say there. What fields still have nobility?

Concept model for the new Anaheim Cultural District, California, by Anthony Poon (w/ HHPA, photo by Foaad Farah)
Concept model for the new Anaheim Cultural District, California, by Anthony Poon (w/ HHPA, photo by Foaad Farah)

TWO.

Being creative. Whether problem solving the client’s schedule/budget or envisioning a downtown district, architecture is at the wonderful intersection of art, science and business.

THREE.

Always learning. No matter how long one has been an architect, a new graduate or an expert of 50 years—all architects have new things to learn every day. The field is a challenge, and we love challenges. And we enjoy learning about new clients, new companies, new cities, and new institutions—and building new worlds for them.

River of Life Christian Church, Santa Clara, by Poon Design

FOUR.

The diversity of each day. We go from one interesting project to another. In a matter of months, we will have created several new restaurants. But a performing arts center might take five years. Nonetheless, each project is a unique adventure: having design presentations, finding the right species of wood, coordinating with the electrical engineer, debating with city agencies, sketching in my notebook.

“Adorkable” Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Daschanel, in 500 Days of Summer (2009)
“Adorkable” architect  Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Daschanel, in 500 Days of Summer (2009)

FIVE.

It’s just plain cool to be an architect. Many architects have studied various pursuits alongside architecture: art, literature, photography, history, math, and science—and even real estate, publishing, coding and music. Also, thank you to Hollywood and the likes of Tom Hanks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ellen Page, Keanu Reeves, Henry Fonda, Wesley Snipes, and so many more, for projecting an exciting image of architects in film. See Celluloid Heroes.

SIX.

The entrepreneurial path. Architects can be a designer at a big company or a sole proprietor, a husband-wife studio or a technology manager. Regardless of role, the journey involves independent thinking, creative contributions, business acumen, and risk taking.

SEVEN.

Rewards. Though the rewards are rarely financial, architects are compensated through the growth of our soul, the smiles and handshakes of clients, participating in the realm of beauty, and embracing each year with worthwhile ambition.

Girl’s bedroom, Roberto Residence, by Poon Design (photo by Anthony Poon)
Girl’s bedroom, Roberto Residence, by Poon Design (photo by Anthony Poon)

EIGHT.

Dreams become reality. One day, we are creating abstract concepts in a sketchbook or Revit. Not much later, concrete is poured, steel is erected, windows are installed, and an architect’s vision is constructed for the world to witness.

Leighton Concert Hall under construction, DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, by Anthony Poon (w/ HHPA, photo by HHPA)
Leighton Concert Hall under construction, DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, by Anthony Poon (w/ HHPA, photo by HHPA)
© Poon Design Inc.