Session 02: Entrepreneurship & Management

Date: April 08, 2022
Location: Haworth – 600 Massachusetts Avenue NW Suite 200, Washington, DC 20001
Led by: Kiruthika Balasubramanian, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
Thomas Masino, RA, NCARB
Session Sponsor: CADD Microsystems, Actalent, & Smoot Construction
Venue Sponsor: Haworth
Session Downloads: Session Program


Kiruthika Balasubramanian and Thomas Masino organized an amazing session focusing on the entrepreneurship and management. It was a hybrid event which was held both virtually and in person at the Haworth showroom. Six exceptional guest speakers, all of which have designed and developed their own unique career path and businesses, shared great insights on this subject. The scholars were able to learn different firm cultures, from small to large and business models that are cutting edge in the industry. 

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Presentation #1

Design Leadership & Project Management: Scales of Entrepreneurship & Management
Speakers: David Jameson, FAIA & Maryam Katouzian, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C

David Jameson talked about how to run a small firm which maintains design excellence and creates a close-knit team that promotes work-life balance. In doing so, he shared his business model and how being knowledgeable about construction has helped him to create innovative ways to serve the clients. By strategically assembling his own construction team from the best tradespersons that he worked with in the past, he is able to deliver high-quality projects and maintain the design intent. He also shared his perspective on the benefits of keeping the firm at a small scale and choosing the clients carefully. Finally, he touched on the fact that it’s important to find ways to get your name out there such as engaging in community activities or getting involved in the academia field.

Maryam Katouzian shared how critical it is to set a 5-year plan in your career and how that has helped her stay on track through the years. She also stressed on the importance of being passionate about the work and repeat clients. By showcasing several high-profile higher education and healthcare projects, she revealed the complex process of maintaining a good relationship with clients and different stakeholders. She also shared her mentality that the hard work can always be rewarded by seeing how well the design is serving its occupants.

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Presentation #2: Design, Construction, & Business

Architect-led Design-Build & Architect as Developer
Speakers: Thomas Gluck, RA

Thomas Gluck started the presentation by analyzing the history of architecture as a profession. During which, he revealed how there has been a divide between who does the drawings and who does the building: Professional vs Tradesperson. His insights and introspective comparison of the architects’ roles through history brought about the mindset that as architects, we tend to think we know better, but this is not always the case.

Diving into his firm’s business model, diagrams were shown to illustrate how their project teams wear different hats. From designing in the office setting to managing the construction site in the trail, their office was able to carry through the design from the beginning to the end successfully and effectively. With this model of consistent involvement by the design team, it ensured the design intent was realized. He also showed impressive examples of how materials are creatively used through architects’ involvement on the construction site.

Tom also introduced Architect-led Design-Build delivery method. Utilizing the knowledge and management that is already inherent in architecture, an architect should feel competent in taking on and performing GC’s work. He encouraged architects to learn from subcontractors since they are very knowledge about the most up-to-date products and techniques. He emphasized that by working together, we can find an effective solution very early on, which helps to make better design and knowledgeable profession.

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Presentation #3

Architecture, Education, & Content Creation: Hyperfine Academy
Speaker: Ben Norkin

Ben Norkin has shared his inspiring story of how he started his own business by sharing his knowledge with the public on his website, attracting and building an audience. He talked about the value of having different strategies to generate multiple revenue streams through knowledge sharing and how this could be beneficial. He also encouraged emerging architects to feel confident in what they know and find ways to share it. Finally, he shared what he believes are the benefit of being a sole practitioner.


Presentation #4

Business Management & Practice Operations: Charette Venture Group & Monograph
Speakers: Lucas Gray, Associate AIA, SEED & Robert Yuen, Associate AIA

Lucas Gray shared his career path and his journey working around the world.  He introduced the practice at CVG and presented a vivid case study of marketing and business development, leadership and financial assessment.  To him, designing a business is just like designing a building and explained how an architectural background helps.

Robert Yuen shared his own unique entrepreneur journey. From setting up Section Cut to co-founding Monograph, he used his architectural background to find his true passion. Partially rooted in the forward-thinking culture in the Bay area, he spoke about his ideology of ‘Do not wait for permission to do things’. He also shared his dream of helping firms to really understand and manage their business at a more proactive and easier to understand level in order to deliver shrewd business decisions.