International Design Practice: Business, Law, and Culture

The practice of architecture is becoming more and more global. American architectural firms pursue foreign markets; foreign architects compete successfully for prestigious commissions within the United States; the creation of regional entities such as the European Union has removed long-standing barriers to practice in large multinational regions. International design practice forces designers to confront a tension between different value systems: what Michael Ignatieff calls the clash of cosmopolitanism and nationalism. Architects and other designers may view themselves as members of a global, cosmopolitan culture that transcends national boundaries and identities. Their drawings, their technologies, their clients, even their workforces may flow easily from one continent or one culture to another. Yet they must still confront the stubborn, sometimes intractable demands of nationalism. The organization of the construction industry varies widely from nation to nation, with profound consequences for design. National and local governments have not faded away and neither have the barriers they have erected to protect local business and artists from foreign competition.This course will explore the challenges and opportunities of international practice for architects and other design professionals. It will address critical business, legal, and cultural issues facing an architect who is working outside of his or her own country including but not limited to Americans who practice abroad and foreign architects within the United States.