Branding and Professional Definition



The professional brands, known as “architect,” “interior designer,” “landscape architect.” etc… are not clearly understood by the general public.  The brand “architect,” originally the master builder, is increasingly marginalized by other professions edging into the domain, carving out scope of work, and resultant professional prestige. Today, this brand teeters on a narrow precipice made more dangerous by our current slow economy.

Academic architectural theory, wholly separate from architectural practice, has created an attractive oasis of ideas, independent of many practical realities. Without academic interventions in practice, this independent theorizing further marginalizes architects by threatening a segregation between theoretical “haves and have-nots” within the discipline.

In evaluation of the extant literature in this arena, a delineation of background causes for current conditions is a goal.  Understanding the professional concerns of the various groups at work in the built environment is also important.  Further, an understanding of the need for invention is a critical objective.  Should a silver bullet solution affecting the branding viability for architects exist in the literature, it would be a great find.  Unfortunately, it does not seem readily available.  This is both a challenge and an opportunity.

Supplementing the research considerations above, by interviewing architects, landscape architects, interior designers, contractors, and owners / clients, I propose to analyze the roles of the various professions working in the design of the built environment.  Consequently, a new practice / process paradigm for the sustainable practice of architectural design is anticipated.  Through my analysis, I seek to learn what realities must manifest for an architectural design firm to survive well in the current economic conditions.

This review of literature, and the resulting research interviews and analysis regarding the professions, will support the following thesis statement:

Architectural practice began with medieval guilds and its form of education has barely changed since Napoleon. Architectural theory resides primarily in academia, and overlays professional practice through limited interventions. 

Ultimately, a sustainable practice of architecture depends upon prioritizing the brand “design,” requiring a synthesis of architectural practice and theory, interwoven with practical economics.



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