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    Small Firm Makes It Big

    by B.J. Novitski

    When John Marx, AIA, was a senior designer at a large architecture firm, a joke circulated that "two guys and a fast computer" could accomplish more work, more quickly than a management-heavy design department. Indeed, with well-honed skills in both design and computer modeling, Marx often completed the firm's competition entries for very large buildings with a team of only two or three.

    Now he is further testing the veracity of the joke in the new 13-person San Francisco firm of Form4 with partners Robert Giannini, AIA, Gary Adkisson, and Paul Ferro. Scarcely a year old, Form4 enjoys the challenge of large, complex projects normally considered beyond the scope of small firms. The efficiency gained from doing practically all their work on computers also affords them the luxury of engaging small projects.

    But diversity of projects is not their only benefit from technology. They also use it to blend design and business skills to meet a range of client needs. Where other firms use the subtitle, "architecture, engineering, and planning," Form4 business cards list "architecture, management, and collaboration."

    This emphasis on nontraditional services reflects the partners' work with clients beyond the construction of a physical facility. It also recognizes that a small firm benefits from working in partnership with other firms and individuals. Form4's architectural design, business management, and team collaborations are all integrated through computer technology, giving them a competitive advantage. Giannini sums it up: "To make it as a small firm, we must be able to do more, better and faster."

     

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    ArchWeek Photo


    Image: Form4

    ArchWeek Photo

    Form4 architects created a relatively simple birds-eye-view rendering of the Carmel Valley Club in San Diego to enable the clients to understand the dramatic roof form.
    Image: Form4

     
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