Friday, July 10, 2009

Archisage Grows

Archisage, an open social and professional network for architects, architectural students, and design buffs, has been growing at a steady and impressive rate. When I was asked to join in the spring, there were maybe 120 members. In a short while, the number has practically tripled, with new members from India, Australia, Greece, Texas, and everywhere in between.
I recently asked the founder Vishal Charles, an Indian-born architect now based in Baltimore, about this professional network. The mission was simple- bring together people in the design field from different parts of the world and see what happens. Achieving this goal was another story.
In addition to juggling his job as a project architect, Charles made three attempts in establishing such a network. After leaving college in 1999, he wanted to set up a website to keep in touch with his classmates, but there was no concept of social networking back then and the tools available for setting up an interactive site were limited. He started something called 'communiqué' which he calls, “a very rudimentary attempt that ended up as a hobby project.” In 2005, Charles launched a web forum with the name archisage and managed it for about two years before taking it offline because of lack of activity. Ever determined and with the help of his brother, Charles re-launched it in a social networking format February this year.
Like many new blogs, initial members were personal friends and friends of friends. Though some found archisage from web searches, Charles began to reach out, connecting with students from his alma mater and others he found on the internet. Next he invited bloggers from some of the blogs related to architecture. Today, he says, “Members are trickling in without much effort on my part. I think as this network grows, it will be defined by the core group which is very diverse and I'm excited about that.”
When asked about the greatest challenge to architects today, Charles says, “Avoid getting irrelevant. I dread the future with small architecture groups in large engineering firms with assembly line production.”
With forums like archisage and the conversations taking place there, the ideals of architecture remain incredibly relevant.