Leading the Design Firm

This course introduces students to the business side of the design industry. It highlights the ways in which a design firm is a business like any other but with unique cultural, strategic, and financial characteristics. The course covers leadership and management of design firms including topics such as starting a design firm, marketing, promotion and branding, management and leadership, organization, finance and economics, the life cycle of design firms, ownership transition, succession planning and mergers and acquisitions. The course addresses the unique leadership challenges of design firms through the combined lenses of professionals holding leading positions in the industry and relevant academic theories through which students gain an in-depth understanding of the reasoning of design firm principals. The course is comprised of lectures, written assignments, and real-world cases and examples. Expert guest speakers address specific topics. Vital for Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Planning and MDesS, students desiring to understand starting and leading design firms. This course complements other practice-related courses offered at the GSD and fulfills the professional practice elective requirement.