Developer by Design

TR Number

Date

2020-07-16

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Virginia Tech

Abstract

Historically, the role of the architect has evolved. It has evolved past the point of needing to construct for shelter, act as a master builder, and nowadays, design for profit. Today, a very common business practice for architects is to design for a developer, and only make a small percentage of the project's overall profit. There are many benefits to this arrangement: It protects the architect from fear of potential litigation; provides more consistent work, and there is small financial risk. In fact, many educational curriculums are centered around this arrangement. But what if there is a different path? Why do so many architects wait to be hired on a project instead of initiating them? An architect has all the skills required to self- initiate these projects, and not settle for a small percentage of the return. Once the architect is willing to bet on themselves, they will take control of the design process as well as capture the true economic value that they bring to a project.

This thesis will analyze the different processes of both the architect and developer when starting a new project. Through this analysis, a different role for an architect can be defined by merging the separate processes into one. In order to further explore the blended process, a case study has been developed that will highlight the positive results that come from a project proposed by an architect developer. The case study will cover the steps in phase one of the blended process, followed by a more in depth look into the proposed design for this project.

The case study discussed in this thesis is a mixed-use development project in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Although most developers prioritize financial profitability, this project will prioritize creating a better built environment in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. Profitability will not be secondary to the architecture, but rather an active parameter in each decision made. The case study will cover each of the steps in phase one of the blended process, followed by a more in depth look into the proposed design for this project. The case study will illustrate the benefits for an architect to self- initiate work.

Description

Keywords

Developer, Design, Architect

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