Architecture Recruiting for the 21st Century

16 June 2016

Just sixteen years into the new millennium, the changes to the architecture industry are putting past practices into stark contrast. Following the recession, shifting attitudes toward architecture and design, coupled with new financial and staffing needs for both firms and clients alike have taken a new form, and some may be having difficulty grasping that.

New software requirements, building materials and design aesthetics are changing the industry. Form and function takes precedent over the creation of landmark structures constructed by name-brand designers. The public is increasingly focused on environmental impact and the development of LEED accredited eco-friendly structures. New trends in large urban areas seem to be moving toward mixed use multi-family residential projects that focus on inviting green public spaces, and large eco-friendly metal and glass towers arebeing packed with as many modern luxuries as possible. Whether this trend makes its mark on the next decade of design remains to be seen, but for the time being it is very popular.

It is important to think of what you need to do in order to succeed in the future not in terms of what you are going to do, but who is going to do it for you. Top architecture programs in the U.S. are already preparing students to approach their work in this fashion, and recent graduates live and breathe the architectural vernacular of the future. Consider the benefits of incorporating newer, younger architects into your hiring cycle that already possess this crucial workflow knowledge, and how they can shape your firm to take the future of the industry head-on.

Here are some other things you may want to know about hiring for the future:

1.) Thinking outside the box – new specialists and consultants etc., which mean new, more complex hiring needs.

Architectural firms are continually reshaping their perception of- and questions about- the built environment, and ways that architects can work to better understand the needs of the public. Nowadays, this means that the consultants that contribute to a project may not be architects in the strictest sense, or in the case of NBBJ’s latest endeavor, even the loosest sense. In the summer of 2014 NBBJ announced a new fellowship program that will bring experts from many different academic backgrounds into consulting roles at the firm, with the aim of assisting project teams by providing detailed research in specific areas, with the hope that this will contribute to the firm’s mission to better apply their practices to the needs of the consumer.

One notable research fellow brought on in this project is John Medina, an affiliate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Medina will be contributing research and advice to help NBBJ explore the relations between neuroscience and how to design and experience an environment from an individual perspective. This research will have practical applications on the firm’s healthcare and corporate building sectors. Says NBBJ Partner Richard Dallam, the lead of this program, “R&D is fundamental to our firm, so that we can continue offering clients the most responsive and resilient designs possible… By drawing on the expertise of external fellows like John, and plugging him into our project teams, we’ll be able to explore new areas of research that will change the way we think about our work and the spaces we create.”


2.) Employees will increasingly be asked to wear multiple hats.

-New tools like BIM are giving architects a bigger, more powerful role in the development process, one that adds to the need for talent. This need is having the interesting effect of employees being increasingly asked to wear multiple hats. People’s job roles are no longer segmented based on narrowly defined abilities. Says Julia Ingalls, an essayist whose work appears frequently on Archinect, “The collaborative nature of architecture means that you’ll rarely be serving only one function in a workplace. If your strength is in AutoCAD or physical modeling, you can certainly expect that it will be utilized, but you’ll likely be asked to research materials, help prepare for presentations, and keep abreast of the development of other projects. This is especially true for smaller offices.” Many people who have been in the practice for a long time may not be as comfortable with this change in expectations, but it is essential nonetheless in order for job applicants to keep themselves relevant in the marketplace.


These are just two of the changes taking place in the industry today, but they are the changes most likely to have the largest effect on the day-to-day working environment for employees. Be sure to follow the Microsol Staffing blog for more insightful information about the future of architecture!


About the author

Belle Gallay

Belle has 25 years of experience working in architecture recruiting and has been with Microsol Staffing since 2003. She works hard to form happy, long-term relationships between candidates and clients.