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The OAA is developing a new course aimed at assisting architects with specific issues relating to starting and running an architectural practice. The course offers an engaging introduction to the business of architecture with a focus on setting up and running a design-centered practice. The delivery format consist of five key lessons offered in two consecutive days.
Learning Hours: 12
Architectural Practice in a Contemporary Context
The context of architectural practice is changing. New project delivery methods, new industry players and disruptive business models are altering the landscape in which architects deliver design services. Architects are no longer as close to the centre of project decision-making as they once were, with the rise of paraprofessionals and the shifting priorities of clients. This session will provide the participant with a contemporary view of the social, commercial, sectoral and environmental contexts in which to make decisions about starting an architectural practice.
Mandatory Requirements – Architectural Practice in Ontario and Canada
There are mandatory requirements for operating an architectural practice in Ontario and Canada. This session will address those requirements that are specific to architectural practice. The next session will explore those mandatory requirements common to all businesses. The two main topics of this session are the regulation of architectural practices by their respective provincial associations and the requirements to maintain insurance.
Mandatory Requirements – Business Structures in Ontario and Canada
Operating a business in Canadian requires compliance with federal, provincial and in some cases municipal legislation, regulations, and bylaws. This session will examine the options available to a firm in terms of legal structures, and review the various taxes that may apply to a firm including income tax and GST/HST.
Practice Management: Operational Systems – Finance and Brand Marketing
There are two types of systems that function in an architectural practice: operating systems and project systems. Operating systems include those processes that continue on an ongoing basis, do not have a defined end, and are, for the most part, repetitive. These include financial management, human resources management, brand marketing (not related to a specific project), and information and technology systems management. Project systems involve those activities related specifically to a project. These include client architect agreements, production processes, project based marketing (responding to RFP), and project planning.
The next two sessions will explore the Practice Management systems that are required to be planned and implemented for starting a practice. This session will address financial management and brand marketing.
Practice Management: Human Resources, Technology and Information
The second session in Practice Management will explore the topics of human resource management issues related to starting firm, such as hiring, employment agreements, and HR policies and procedures. Also discussed will be considerations in purchasing and/or leasing technology systems (computers, servers, printers, etc.) and setting up scalable information systems that can grow with the firm.
Project Management: Project Marketing and Fees
Project systems include those activities of a practice that are based on the life cycle of projects. Unlike ongoing practice operating systems, such as financial management, project systems are temporary in that they come to an end and have a defined, unique outcome. Project systems include project planning, project execution, project control and project closer. Being a project-based industry, by far the majority of a firm’s resources are invested in project activities. The two project activities to be discussed in this lesson are project related marketing, including responding to RFPs, and estimating project resources and analyzing market forces to develop an appropriate and competitive fee.
Project Management: Client Agreements and Project Planning
This second session in project systems explores starting a project on the right foot. Generally speaking, projects that go sour have often done so within the first 30 minutes of getting the commission. This is because there is a rush to get deliverables produced and an aversion to spending time on contracts, planning and other activities that do not, on the surface, generate billable hours. However, from the standpoint of practice and project risk management, establishing a system for quickly developing agreements and planning projects sets a solid foundation for firm growth and sustainability.