An Inside Look at Archinect, Part II

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Interview with Archinect’s founder and creative director Paul Petrunia Bernard Tschumi Architects interview with Archinect’s founder and creative director Paul Petrunia

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“…it can be much more difficult to understand the value of a critic online…”

Since 1997, Paul Petrunia, Archinect’s founder and creative director, has overseen the launch and expansion of a popular online community that was a precursor to social media.

Though Petrunia isn’t directly involved in MDC, we thought attendees might be interested in an inside look at a site architects frequently use to seek advice, share advice, post and find jobs, and chat.

In this, the second part of our interview with him, we couldn’t resist asking him what he thought the most successful aspect of his site was. But we opened, with an issue that came up when we talked to AIA members about what critics.

In a recent series of interviews for the MDC about what makes a good critic, designers noted that the web has democratized architects ability to get their work out, and yet it’s hard to know what voices to trust on the web in terms of criticism. What’s your POV?
That’s a big issue with the web, in general. I think that, when it comes to the web, the value of a person’s or a critic’s voice depends on the same types of criteria that people base reputations on in the real world—their previous content that they’ve written online or in the real world.

A lot of websites are developing value systems for members—that’s something we’re actually working on at Archinect too. So that when people post content, they’re able to get reviewed by their peers to build up credibility. That’s one way of establishing a reputation online and developing trust online. But it’s true, it can be much more difficult to understand the value of a critic online.

What’s the most successful part of your site to you?
That’s a difficult question. There’s the most financially successful component, there’s the most successful component in terms of satisfaction.

I would say that Archinect has established a lot of trust in the industry among architects and students. And with that trust comes a lot of quality content. A lot of firms like listing jobs with Archinect because they understand that the community is a rich community of talented and smart people that they can trust.

That’s why a lot of Internet job boards don’t get any action, because the community behind those websites is not really trusted.

So I would say the trust and relationships within the online community are really our biggest success.

“I wanted to become an architect when I was ten years old…”

You went to SCI-Arc. Why did you decide to go into communication for architects instead of working as an architect yourself?
I wanted to become an architect when I was ten years old and that plan changed when I was in architecture school. I originally learned how to create websites while I was at the University of Oregon in 1995 before I went to SCI-Arc.

The creation of a website is very similar metaphorically to the creation of buildings and cities—there’s a lot of similarities. So the process of creating websites appealed to all of my different interests. My background tends to be a little bit more science, even though I have a passion for design, so the web offered a more scientific, rationale approach. And also, I think, I’m too impatient to be an architect.

Tom Kundig speaks at this year’s conference. You can read our interview with him, here.

Why did Jeanne Gang’s pavilion at the Lincoln Park Zoo become more extensive than a structure?

Need extended education credits? Want to hear Barcelona’s Borja Ferrater speak? You can do both by attending the MDC. Don’t put off registering.



The AIACC represents the interests of more than 11,000 architects and allied professionals in California. Founded in 1944, The AIACC's mission supports architects in their endeavors to improve the quality of life for all Californians by creating more livable communities, sustainable designs and quality work environments.

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