5 Reasons Architecture Programs should have a Think Tank Studio

Meetups, Think Tanks, beer socials. Whatever you call it, the concept of casual meeting spots for like-minded people from different professions is a growing trend.

Why is this? Because Informal meetups offer people a chance to physically network and potentially collaborate with others.

In all major cities, web Platforms like meetup.com give people the opportunity to create and join events of this nature.The very reason this concept is growing at the professional level is an indication to me that it should occur more frequently at the post- secondary level.

When I was an architecture student, I always wondered why there wasn’t more integration between the architecture, engineering and business programs. In the “real world”, no project is carried through to fruition without the successful collaboration of all three of these disciplines. So why not prime students at the college or undergrad level?

Therefore, I think that there should be a studio class that combines students from each of the 3 programs I have listed. Projects can range from design build development (where the architect and engineer act as the”design team” and the business student acts as the “owner”), to product design development (where the students design, build and market a product.) Whatever the project may be, the objective is to create, implement and execute.

Here are 5 Reasons that I believe Architecture Programs should have a Think Tank Studio

#1 Reality

Unfortunately, Money is a taboo subject in architecture school. Yes, I think design studios that are structured to maximize your design capabilities by stimulating your creative side is essential. Additionally, I believe that training architects to approach their design concepts  too rigidly can spill over into their professional practice. However, it is somewhat detrimental to students to make it all the way through their undergrad without being taught the basic financial aspects of real construction projects.

#2  Different Career Opportunities-

A large percentage of architecture students don’t become licensed architects. I am not discouraging students from becoming licensed, rather stating that if you are a student that doesn’t follow this route, you need not terminate your pursuit and start from scratch.

So, what else can architecture graduates do? For starters,technology has made way for new positions such as a BIM specialist, social media manager and 3D architectural visualizer. If you are more entrepreneurial, you can pursue paths such as real estate developer or product developer.

Brandon Donnelly , creator of Architect this city, is an architecturally trained developer that deviated from the conventional path. Jonathan Segal, founder of Jonathan Segal Architects has successfully proven that being a developer and architect don’t even need to be exclusive careers.Integrating architecture students with  engineering and business students may help them get a better grasp on what other paths are also  available.

#3 Potential Partnerships

How do an architect and a foodie create an ice cream company? No, they didn’t start out in a studio class, , but Natasha and Lucy’s story is a perfect example of how combining architectural and business trained minds can create and execute a lucrative product.

As Natasha states in her interview for Archipreneur.com, “I brought the design and marketing. I had a print, and she brought business and operations”.

Would two architecture students have thought of this? Maybe. Would they have executed on it? Although not impossible, it seems to me to be less likely. In this case, initially Natasha was the visionary and Lucy was the executor.

My point is: When you combine a creative skillset with a business mind, spontaneous innovation may occur organically.

    #4  Spontaneous Innovation:

Detroit’s recent startup “movement” is a great example of the benefit of shared workspaces. Incubators like Bamboo Detroit,  and Colab Detroit  are just a few examples of co-working incubators that  are set up to not only allow startups to operate without having to incur the overhead of leasing a full office, but also potentially foster partnerships that spawn innovative companies

#5 Re-define comfort zone:

You will likely find in your first day at your first “real job”,that you won’t be given a program with a set of guidelines that you can work on alone at your own pace.

In any office, you will be working underneath and alongside others, and you will also at some point be forced to collaborate with someone that you wouldn’t prefer to hang out with on your own time (or ever for that matter.)

Therefore, I would like to revisit my point from #1:  Yes, it is crucial that student’s develop their own design work throughout their University career. However, sheltering students from real interactions and uncomfortable situations can hinder their ability to adapt to professional reality.

I’m well aware that I am not making some revolutionary declaration. Perhaps this is already being done? Either way, I believe that it that it is a concept that Universities should further research and implement.

What are your thoughts? Please share!


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