Friday, February 15th, 2019

A Letter to Young Architects


Ella Stelter, founder of Nestiv

Where’s the Architecture?

We know that recent architecture graduates are struggling in today’s economy. We also know, but don’t like to admit, that even in the best of times there are too many architects and not enough projects.

The role of an architect is to design buildings, and yet we aren’t involved in the vast majority of construction. We don’t need a masterpiece on every street corner, but we have done nothing to prevent us from turning into a nation of strip malls and McMansions.


We Are Our Worst Enemies

Architects use an outdated business model, and are much slower to adapt than other professions.  We fulfill long, low-paying internships and graduate to serve the rich and powerful.  However, the rich are a limited market, and we are capable of far more than drafting restrooms.

Where most professions have embraced the breadth of their market, seizing new opportunities and exploiting niches, architects have had little concern for what happens in the world at large.  This is indoctrinated in us by the majority of our professors, and reinforced by our work experience after graduation.  We want the perfect (rich and foolish) client and the perfect (unbridled) project.

Our Responsibilities, Our Opportunities

These problems were passed on to us from past generations, but are ours to solve.  The fight against this order has given us our greatest victories and advances.  The roots of modernism lay in the quest for social justice. The challenges of sustainability have led us to push our craft past the creative stagnation of the past generations.  We may dream of projects with compliant clients and unlimited budgets, but the greatest innovations have always come from our struggles with the most urgent realities.  And now our own realities are quite urgent.

We need to grow our market to prevent our generation from being lost to the profession. We need to find a way to have a hand in all new construction, from museums to warehouses.  We need to stop waiting for the recovery to finally reach us, and fix our own problems.

Instead of shutting out the middle class and those we deem too poor of taste, let’s acknowledge our responsibility to the entire built environment.  The Modernism movement, as noted before, was begun by social innovators.  But that was nearly 100 years ago, and we still call it new.  Ranch style homes are the most modern housing prototype.  Others of lesser skill are out there working this market, but we can do better. Thankfully we have new and amazing tools that we can master, such as the internet or open-source software.  We also have our energy, drive, and idealistic foolishness.

A Solution

I recently launched my own solution: Nestiv. An online marketplace where architects and professional designers can sell their home plans, Nestiv offers struggling designers opportunities to earn income and build their portfolio.  Nestiv  takes care of many back end components of business, such as payment processing, payment disbursements, printing and shipping, taxes, marketing, PR, some legal aspects, and generally things related to the business side, thus allowing architects to concentrate on design.  And more importantly, Nestiv allows young (and struggling) architects a chance to stay in the industry and get build works during these difficult times.

It is not the only, or even the best, solution.  But it is a solution, and one worth exploring.  So please, check us out. Or even better, start working on some solutions of your own. 

Ella Stelter, an architect living in New Orleans recently founded Nestiv.  She currently serves as the secretary for the USGBC Louisiana Chapter.

Blog readers receive a 20% discount on the purchase of Success by Design by using the code Blog20.


One Response to “A Letter to Young Architects”
  1. Sart says:

    I work for a small architect firm that has ofeifcs in the tri-state area. My Supervisor recently asked me to find new areas to promote our services given that the economy has hit our area rather hard, especially for new construction. My first thought was the social networking sites, especially Facebook, and when I told him that he was a little hesitant but told me I could look into it and let him know what I found. He was MOST concerned with getting on Google’s first search results page and that is what we are working towards especially. I was shocked there actually existed a BOOK telling us exactly how to go about it. But sure enough, Internet Marketing for Architects was superb in relating various ways we could increase our buisness, even locally, using search engines as well as the social networking sites. We have began two campaigns, both on Facebook and YouTube, and ARE seeing success already. Even though I knew that businesses were using social networks for some pomotion and even though I knew we needed to, I sure had no idea how to go about it. I am thrilled that Mr. Holliday compiled this guide. His click-by-click steps make things extremely easy. We are going to try Google Places next using his techniques although we are fairly pleased at Facebook already. Sure, social media might not ever be our primary means of promotion but we are pleased so far at its payback compared to the little time we have invested there. And as we move up on Google, we really hope to see returns.

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