Some time back I read an article about how architecture firms name themselves and it mentioned that in the early days architecture firms took the example of law firms by stringing together the names of the principal partners. With time, many older established partnerships started using just the initials like SOM or HOK which sounded more 'corporate'. Architecture firm names have since evolved to much cooler sounding names such as WOW and Asymptote.
Has the business model evolved?
Architecture is primarily a service industry. A few weeks back I started a Salary Survey for architects and it prompted me to think about the various business models architects pursue and if there is anything better out there. Is providing service the only viable model?
Lifetime of a building is a lot longer than the time spent on design and construction. Could architects add value to that lifetime?
How about the end product itself? What if architects design and build? Some do, but primarily design-build services when applicable are offered by the General Contractor with Architect hired by the contractor. Construction is not an easy thing to be in and most architects including myself would prefer to stay out of it BUT would it be unethical if an architect and a contractor create a joint venture entity and offer cradle to grave services? (that would be design, build & maintain).
It's not all black and white. While a large majority of firms still offer generic services, there are a few architects who have ventured out of the box and developed unique business models. My first employer 'Total Environment Building Systems' is a good example. I'm sure there are more such examples and I would love to hear some good stories and ideas.