Fear of technology change is leaving firms at a loss.
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Full Episode: Firm Choices

Season 2, Episode 3

Firm Choices

The business of architecture has never been in a more precarious state. Lower fees, shrinking budgets, higher costs and rising client demands have created a dangerous financial precipice for firms large and small. In return, owners are turning to technology for new methods of efficiency, sometimes betting their very survival on making the right software choice.

To understand the critical decisions that principals need to make, and the confusion that often accompanies it, By Design met with three firms that leverage digital technology and BIM as central to their business success, overcoming a real fear of change along the way.

Inside the Episode

From the quiet suburb of Concord, Mass., Tom Levi looked at the New England market and saw nothing but increased competition. With nearly 2,000 firms fighting for attention, Tom recognized that his 20-person practice, LWDA Design, would need more than a strong track record in hospital and senior living design to maintain share, let alone grow it.

After an exhaustive search, Tom identified BIM as offering not only a more efficient workflow, but decisive advantages in collaboration, responsiveness and accuracy. Today, LWDA’s expert BIM process allows it to effortlessly handle $40 million projects that would overwhelm firms many times their size, with the added draw of being one of the only practices to also utilize BIM for landscape, interior design and planning.

In New York, Joseph Vance Associates competes in the rarified air of luxury residential development. Here, the goal isn’t just exceptionally tailored design, but satisfying a clientele that demands constant personal commitment. BIM allows the firm to offer both to an unparalleled standard, while elevating profit and flexibility in the process.

With a team of just six, Joseph Vance has steadily grown his practice from townhouse renovation to transformation of manufacturing sites, warehouses and more. By creating a fully accurate 3D model that automatically generates and updates documentation throughout a project, the firm can immerse clients from the start at no risk, and save hundreds of work hours in the process.

Taking BIM to an equal level is Christopher Lee. Based in the resort town of Jackson, WY, Chris inherited his five-person firm, Design Architects Associates, from his father. Upon taking control, Chris realized that any growth, however small, would overwhelm him if he didn’t find a way to rapidly elevate efficiency and performance within the confines of a narrow operating budget.

By making BIM the workhorse of the firm, Chris restructured DAA into a highly streamlined modern practice able to easily complete simultaneous multi-million dollar projects of amazing scale and complexity, regularly winning pitches against firms many times larger than his own. All without taking on a single new hire or increasing staff pressure.

Watch the episode for a revealing picture of the pressure firms are facing, and the impact of technology choice on profitability. Then follow us on social media for additional stories, insights and much more.

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