Last week the growing Architizer team packed its bags and headed north to Copake, New York, for a two-day summit of ideas, bbq, and epic games of Risk. As an architect, I was never trained to consider an off-site as a productive activity. Grad school drilled a very specific idea of work into my head—better design meant more hours in the studio, toiling through the weekends, a million sketches, and a pile of trace paper. You had to grind through it, alone, to make it work. Nowhere in studio was there mention of “ice-breakers”—team-building exercises and guided brainstorming. Read more.
So, to be frank, I initially thought an off-site was a waste of time.
Man, I am eating humble pie. Well actually tomato pie that we bought at the farmers’ market.
Architizer is expanding quickly. Jenna McKnight recently became our new editor in chief, and just last week, two new awesome staff members joined our group. We have huge plans for the coming months, and it was invigorating to get out of steamy NYC, sit in the countryside, and talk about big ideas. We all got on the same page, produced a flurry of amazing concepts, and put our world-domination skills to use while playing Risk. We left a stronger and more cohesive team, with a heightened sense of focus.
The retreat was so useful, in fact, that we’re going to try the same thing at my design firm, HWKN (HollwichKushner). Every year we host a summer party, like most firms, but I’m thinking it would be great to get our architects out of the office and into the sunlight to rethink how we work and where we are headed. I’m still not sure what the right board game is, but I am leaning toward Monopoly—we can all play client for a little while. I’ll let you know how it goes.
In the meantime, if your architecture firm has ever done an off-site, I’d love to hear any tips. Please share your feedback below!
All photos by Ashley Wells