Daily Prompt: Nomadic Architecture

If you could live a nomadic life, would you? Where would you go? How would you decide? What would life be like without a “home base”?

Photo by A Yin - nomads of Mongolia. www.rmanyc.org

Photo by A Yin – nomads of Mongolia. http://www.rmanyc.org

Architectural practice, with few exceptions, is a territorial art and business. Architects typically operate within their own city, sometimes venturing into neighboring cities, but almost always within their state of residence. Mostly this is a product of the licensing process by which architects are only licensed to practice in an individual state. And, while getting licensed in multiple states is not terribly difficult, it is incredibly expensive and time consuming to maintain, so very few architects will maintain a license in more than one or two states at a time.

In my own practice, not having a license has actually made it easier to work on projects in multiple states and even other countries. There are challenges that come with that type of arrangement, but they are not terribly prohibitive. The biggest challenges are communication with clients, getting a basic understanding of the local laws and building codes, and tailoring your drawings accordingly. Luckily a set of architectural drawings are for the most part typical no matter where you are in the world. The same type of information has to be effectively communicated no matter what.

And when I began my little side practice now more than 3 years ago, this is exactly what I had in mind – a practice that was flexible, affordable to clients, and was not bound by geography. A nomadic architecture if you will. And, once I am fully licensed, this nomadic practice will be both more and less challenging. At that point I will need to decide on the few most advantageous locations to maintain licenses in, but it will also make partnering with other licensed professionals easier as well. And, after all, building a truly nomadic practice is entirely dependent on the relationships you build in the locations you practice.