Any business or location of employment where one or more licensed architects operate is referred to as an “architecture firm,” “studio,” or “practice.” But what exactly does working for an architecture firm entail, and what can we anticipate when searching for one?

Nothing makes us happier than hearing from other architects about their firms, including the good and the bad. So, in this article, we’ll examine the inner workings of an architecture company and talk about what makes them such fun places to work.

Architecture Firm Meaning

As was already noted, the phrase “architecture firm” designates a business that provides and commissions architectural services. A firm, on the other hand, tends to refer to a broader group of businesses in the UK, whilst “studio” refers to businesses with 20 or fewer personnel. Regardless, there are numerous methods to establish a business, including through partnerships, limited liability partnerships, corporations, or even just as a single practitioner.

If the term “architect” or “architects” appears anywhere in the firm’s name or description, the firm must employ certified architects. However, in other nations, anyone without a license is allowed to provide architectural services as long as they do not include the word “architect” or “architects” in their description.

Who Has The Reins?

However, each company will have a principal or principals who are the sole proprietors of the firm and, depending on its size, share the tasks with partners and directors who will frequently be shareholders. We briefly discuss the form and organization of an architectural firm here.

Organization Small businesses with five to ten or fewer employees frequently lack a formal organizational structure and are managed completely by the owners. Employees, however, can (if they desire to) obtain significant experience by working with other aspects of the firm that others in larger organizations would not get exposed to due to the nature and amount of labor involved from both an architectural and commercial point of view.

Medium-sized businesses with between 10 and 50 people begin to organize themselves into teams and departments that are overseen and controlled by senior personnel. Teams can be split up according to expertise levels, project types, administrative needs, and occasionally even by state, county, or nation.

Additionally, large companies with 50 or more people frequently maintain numerous offices around the globe. This not only implies that they can find employment anywhere in the world but also that a company can operate across the world 24/7 due to the many places’ varying local time zones.


Similar to architecture itself, a firm’s culture contributes significantly to its success by making every effort to give both its permanent staff and any clients who may visit an exciting and welcoming workspace.

This has been expertly captured by architecture photographer Marc Goodwin of atmospheres, who documented some of the biggest businesses in the world and captured the unique working environments and atmospheres of each company.

Dezeen and Design Boom have documented how diverse each company is, but also how they all provide bright, cozy, and occasionally green workspaces for their employees. Layout The number of employees has a significant impact on the firm’s layout, which is extremely arbitrary and interchangeable.

A meeting table, a row or bank of desks with computers, plus a tiny kitchen and restroom for staff are all standard in small businesses. You can anticipate finding more staff amenities, an admin desk or department, a designated conference space, a library, a model department, separate offices for the principals, and even more desks with a medium-sized company.

Large practices will typically feature all of the aforementioned on a much greater scale spread out over several stories of a building. Some of the larger, medium-sized, and larger businesses will have their own staff and customer hospitality departments that provide drinks and dining options.

Firm Types

The following aims to demonstrate the huge range of creative environments that exist. Much like any industry, there are a lot of different architecture businesses out there. While also showing how drastically diverse management styles the principles have. No one atmosphere fits all, and in the end, people tend to gravitate toward the setting that best suits them and allows them to freely express their own creativity.

One-person Businesses

Tiny projects, including additions, renovations, and one-off dwellings, are typically undertaken by lone practitioners who work from home or a small office. As the name implies, they work alone, which, while it may sound isolating, allows them the greatest flexibility and independence.

Some architects are relocating to bigger spaces to hire a small crew as they work toward the next level, while others are content right where they are. Tiny boutique businesses: These offices often have 2 to 5 employees that operate in a small studio or occasionally an off-site location at the principals’ house.

Comparable to an emerging practice that is gradually taking on more and bigger tasks while searching for the next step, they generally resemble a lone practitioner moving beyond that.

Medium-sized design firms: These businesses often have two to three partners or principals, and by this point, they have successfully carved out a specific market niche for themselves in the field of architecture.

There will be basic management structures and a staff ladder in place. This atmosphere frequently consists of a close-knit group of young people with similar interests. The major names are the Norman Fosters, Rem Koolhaass, and Zaha Hadid of the architectural world, and they are the places where many young architects and architecture students hope to work and fulfill their aspirations.

Although many businesses have many long-term employees, there is a significant turnover rate, with many young and aspiring architects looking just to have the firm’s name on their resume. But the name doesn’t come for free—you’ll have to put in a lot of time and effort to get it.


This is a relatively new method of structuring an architecture firm, but it fosters a friendly and productive workplace by holding everyone accountable and giving them the power to directly affect the business’s performance.

Each employee will own a portion of the business, including both its earnings and losses; this encourages sharing of responsibility and fosters an exciting learning environment for budding architects.

Large, Global Companies

These companies will have locations all over the world and employ a large number of people. They will have rigid and effective working procedures in place, along with a well-organized hierarchy of employees and management positions.

They frequently provide the best salaries and benefits, but they are merciless in firing employees and show little to no commitment to their workforce when times are tough or when work slows down. You can anticipate working on a wide range of public and private initiatives, with chances to work and travel abroad.

Family-owned Businesses

A family-owned business is frequently passed down for at least two generations. They frequently take great pleasure in their ideals of loyalty and family, and they work hard to take care of their crew, which frequently consists of multiple long-standing individuals. Although they are not always at the top of their game creatively, they will go above and above to complete the assignment.

Company Locations

Businesses can essentially be found anywhere, and the location is up to the individuals. Many people live in vibrant cities with convenient transportation, but some prefer to settle in rural locations where life is more peaceful. Everyone can find something they like.

What Characteristics Distinguish a Strong Company?

The most significant part of a firm, in our opinion, is its personnel and the like-mindedness of the individuals, aside from selecting a company that creates the work and architecture that you are interested in.

It’s crucial that you get along with (most of) the people you work with since, like it or not, that’s who you’ll spend the majority of your time with.

Thirdly, as previously mentioned, the surroundings and working conditions can significantly contribute to the development of a creative and rewarding environment. Fortunately, when you go to the interview, it is usually simple to determine if it is the appropriate choice for you.

If you are interested in more articles like this, here’s one about how to get hired at an architecture firm.