The Architecture Lobby Cooperative Network researches and advocates for worker-ownership structures in architectural practice to increase equity, diversity, and resilience within the profession.
The case for cooperatives.
Cooperatives provide a more equitable structure for architectural practice: an alternative to the precarity of a boom-bust cycle, and exploitation of a race-to-the-bottom market. The ‘one worker, one share, one vote’ structure makes a worker cooperative a democratic workplace.
In the United States, 76% of architecture firms are 1 to 9 people, yet they capture only 14% of total billings.
Small firms are struggling to compete in a market that favors large firms. They are often unable to afford the specialized staff that tackle the vital administrative, managerial, financial, legal, development, and marketing tasks that support architectural work.
Yet small firms have their own distinct advantages: on-the-ground knowledge and working relationships with communities, the ability to experiment and innovate, a focus on design and detail, work-life balance… Working together can help small firms build collective power and resilience.
A cooperative network builds collective agency.
Forming a cooperative network allows small firms to share critical support infrastructure, while expanding their collective professional, economic and political capabilities.
The network provides members with the essential tools to run a practice. Within the network, firms share resources: leveraging the economies of scale to jointly hire consultants, exchange knowledge and workers, share space, software, equipment…
Through strategic partnerships with other types of cooperatives, community organizations and activists, the network connects firms with potential project partners, while helping to build a broader cooperative economy rooted in collective power.
What we’ve done so far
The Coop Network group has published several key articles that summarize what we see as the possibilities for cooperatives and cooperative networks within the architectural profession, and the interrelated transformations of society that we could achieve through cooperative work. See our publications and presentations archive to read these articles!
These articles in are the best summary in different contexts:
- PRACTICE – The MAS Context article on Coop Networks
- THEORY/HISTORY – The Spatial Practices chapter and Log’s Cooperativizing Small Firms
- LEGAL – The white paper
- QUICK SUMMARY – The Architects Newspaper short article
- Building out resources on Notion
- Gathering example model documents and flow charts on Miro (email us for password.)
Andrew Daley AIA, Associate Organizer, IAMAW