The Entrepreneurship Question

Julia De Vito


On September 16, 2015, the student collective A-Frame, formed within the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP) at Columbia University, organized “The Entrepreneurship Question” event.

Stemming from the observation of the changes technology brought to the relationship between professions and the economy, the goal of the event was “to identify what entrepreneurship has to offer the field of architecture,” with the belief that it was “time to make our own bold propositions about architecture’s relationship to the economy.”

To address this question, A-Frame curated a panel of five professionals—a real-estate tech founder, a virtual reality entrepreneur, an architecture labor activist, an architecture incubator director, and an architecture business strategist—to share their diverse views.ins

Three main themes were discussed throughout the two-hour-long panel.

The first was the acknowledgement of the value of the varied skill set architects possess and the suggestion that architects define which alternative types of services, other than those strictly related to designing buildings, they could offer.

The second theme was financing and the apparent inequality of entrepreneurial enterprises. Architects should learn to garner the financial resources needed in order to see their ideas through.

The third theme centered on changes needed within academia. The final call was for students to take control of their education and not wait until after graduation to pursue their interests and ideas.

These three main strands fall under a more general issue that inspired the event in the first place: the precariousness generated by the architecture work culture, where the long-standing dichotomy between art, considered “good,” and business, considered “bad,” along with the belief that “architecture can be the product of a single visionary” has impeded architects from being true agents of their professions and coming up with alternative practice models.

The event, an entrepreneurial action in itself, ultimately became a call to action for students and professionals to take agency of their role at the global and micro scale.


Columbia GSAPP, “The Entrepreneurship Question”, Sept. 16th 2015, available on YouTube at

A-Frame, Alternative Practices Workshop at GSAPP Incubator, New INC, Feb. 5th 2016, available on YouTube at

Lohry, Matthew and Pedtke, Julie, “The Entrepreneurship Question” Intro, found at

A-Frame, “The Entrepreneurship Question”, edited by Lechene, Valerie, Pedtke, Julie and Schugars, Miranda, February 2016, available on Issuu at