Despite the current building boom, many recent graduates from architecture and engineering schools are choosing to pursue more lucrative careers in high-tech and management consulting, rather than building and design.
This trend, according to design professionals, could have major consequences for the construction industry. As part of an effort to address it, a recent $1.5 million gift to Harvard’s Graduate School of Design will support The RMJM Program for Research and Education in Integrated Design Practice.
The program aims to encourage more graduates to practice architecture by showing them ways to integrate management principles and technological savvy with their design skills so they can balance aesthetic concerns with the bottom line. This well-rounded skill set will enable architects to excel in business by incorporating an understanding of all aspects of the construction process, from commercial and economic drivers to environmental and financial considerations.
And the forecast for a building boom remains very good, with Dubai and China in the midst of a building frenzy, and much of the world expecting to follow the trend over the next 25 years. Large-scale retail, commercial, and infrastructural projects are expected to be particularly buoyant.
“This program is about initiating the dawn of a new era for the architectural profession,” said RMJM Chief Executive Peter Morrison. “We passionately believe that tomorrow’s design leaders will be as equally adept and sophisticated commercially and economically as they are architecturally.”
GSD Dean Mohsen Mostafavi welcomed the gift: “One of our priorities is to facilitate transdisciplinary collaborations — both across departments within the GSD and throughout the University. The RMJM gift will help us promote such an effort through research and innovations in the area of integrated design.”
RMJM’s gift will support advanced student and faculty research; the development of case studies and curricula for use at the master’s, doctoral, and executive levels; and the dissemination of research findings through lectures, conferences, and publications.
RMJM is a U.K.-based international firm of architects, employing 1,200 people across its network of 16 offices in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, and the United States.