The Entrepeneur Architect Interviews Kurt Krueger of Kurt Krueger Architects
The Entrepeneur Architect interviews architects about their practices, including their background and the particular passions which drive them as architects. The series is meant to help architects share their knowledge with other small firm architects.
In this podcast episode, EntreArchitect, discovers how an artistic kid, with a talent for drawing became a successful architect in Los Angeles. Kurt shares his experience and the wisdom he gained when choosing to open an Architect-led Design-Build firm specializing in new construction and the renovation of mid-century modern style homes in the Brentwood, Los Angeles, California area. “The history of mid-century modernism in the Los Angeles area is fascinating” and Kurt believes “there’s a lot to work with in the area.”
“Find what you love, work hard, and get pretty good at it. Find your passion and pursue it.”
Specializing in the design-build system, Kurt’s firm is unique in that they do both the architectural design and the construction. Kurt is both the principal of the firm and the lead architect with two other full time architects on staff and other resources to scale up when projects require it. Kurt’s business partner is the General Contractor and runs the construction side of the business. After Kurt and his team come up with the design, the two firms work together to provide estimating and continue this real time collaboration through the construction phase.
Most client’s starting out a project aren’t familiar with the traditional relationship between architect and contractor. In most case they’re surprised to hear that they don’t usually work together in the design-build type of partnership in which Kurt Krueger Architects does. They become convinced however this is the only way to proceed when they learn about all of the benefits of this type of working relationship: budget, schedule, direct access to the site and the subs, and a smoother running project.
“It felt uncomfortable not to have that direct connection to the site.”
Kurt became inspired to pursue this type of business arrangement early in his career. For him, pairing design and build was just “the logical way to do it.” Learning first hand out on the jobsite not only taught him about how things come together, but made him understand why design should be done this way (with construction knowledge). “Architects should be required to be out on the jobsite.” That practical experience only serves to enhance their design skills.
Kurt and his business partner met many years ago while both working for other companies. They developed a friendship and stayed in touch over the years. They’d discussed a few times about partnering up, but Kurt initially declined the offers. An opportunity came up to work on a project for a defined 6 month period. Kurt said yes thinking he’d try it out on weekends and evenings. One project led to another and he was able to ‘cushion’ his way into the job. This ‘safety net’ approach allowed Kurt to make the transition to a small firm architect while minimizing risk by not just starting out day one looking for clients.
A few of the lighter side questions asked by EntreArchitect:
EA: One thing that makes you unique and different?
Kurt: The method we use. We are an architect-led design build. We are able to improvise quite a bit during construction. We tend to deliver projects with a concept and design–the BIG idea of the project and move one from their because we have the flexibility to be more agile in the construction process. Part of the process is to iterate as we go.
EA: At what age did you become a licensed architect?
Kurt: At age 30.
EA: What’s your Target market?
Kurt: Brentwood, Los Angeles doing single family, modern residential homes. We also do some commercial work.
EA: What makes you happy other than architecture?
Kurt: Outdoors, traveling, and reading. But what makes me the most happy is waking up everyday with a sunny (California) day!
EA: Best advice you received?
Kurt: I interned in Raleigh, NC for Frank Harmon. He said to me one day while I was at the office working late as I often did, “you’re going to learn far more outside of this office than inside it.” It was then I made a pledge to always explore new places and study their history. There’s only so much you can learn in books and in the office.
EA: What’s in your daily routine for success?
Kurt: I try to get in some form of exercise in the morning. I also try to practice having a habit of gratitude. This helps you not to get mired down in the struggles of solving the problems of an architect.
EA: What apps or programs would you recommended?
Kurt: Google Docs
EA: What book would you recommended?
Kurt: “Living Forward” by Michael Hyatt. Discusses putting down in writing your personal goals.
EA: What can the Entrepreneur Architect do today to build a better business for tomorrow?
Kurt: Find a niche and target that. It can be scary to do that, you might think that you don’t want to limit yourself; but this focus and specialization leads to customers finding you amongst all the other architects in your area.
We focus on the geography of the Brentwood area of Los Angeles. We specialize in being an Architect-led Design Build firm.
To hear the Podcast: http://entrearchitect.com/podcast/entrepreneur-architect-kurt-krueger/