DESIGN INTELLIGENCE: Rebuilding the Profession
By Mark Wight
June 13, 2022
We’re talking with Mark Wight, the chairman and CEO of Wight & Company, an 80-year-old, Chicago-based architecture, engineering and construction firm with 200 employees working around the world.
Our editorial theme for 2022 at DesignIntelligence is influence. For this quarter, our theme is world building.
The first question is: How can architects create more influence?
Mark Wight (MW): For starters, architects can be more influential by breaking out of the traditional roles established by architecture schools and the AIA standard form agreements.
I’ve been lucky enough to lecture at the Notre Dame School of Architecture for many years. In my class, I pose the question of how architects went from being master builders to commoditized service providers in just three generations, yet the profession is thousands of years old.
From my point of view, it was AIA’s decision to try to mitigate designers’ risk by publishing standard form agreements that essentially divorce design from construction. Although the AIA is a valuable organization, they did a tremendous disservice to their members by creating standards that put architects in a restrictive design box. Within this framework, architects only interact with builders in systematic and contractually dictated ways. How can architects exert more influence? By getting out of that box. At Wight & Company, that’s exactly what we’re trying to do.