Crowdfunding: a good resource for architects?

A new white paper commissioned by the American Institute of Architects points out the advantages of raising money from "the crowd" to finance bridges, skyscrapers, and other large projects.

Sure, we all know about crowdfunding successes in the realms of books and gadgets, or in the social innovation space. But what about buildings and infrastructure? Can a skyscraper or a bridge be built successfully with this type of 21st-century financial support?  Examples are popping up, from the 66-story  BD Bacata Downtown in Bogota, Colombia (which will be partly owned by the local community), to a new pedestrian bridge in Rotterdam, the Netherlands (via the I Make Rotterdam project).

A new report, Crowdfunding Architecture, released on February 4 by the American Institute of Architects and prepared by massolution, makes a cogent case for matching large-scale building projects and pooled money from "the crowd."

As the authors write, crowdfounding can have very specific advantages for architects. One particularly moving one is that it can "provide architects with the ability to work with local communities to discuss, develop, and then implement design ideas that benefit the members of the community while creating both short and long term job opportunities."

The best part of the report, however, is that it provides an excellent and accessible primer for anyone to understand different models of crowdfunding, from donation-based, reward-based, or crowdfunding with financial returns. Yet it doesn't shy away from the limitations of each for architects: challenges, the authors write, include overselling a property or the pressure of raising very large amounts of money (compared to, say, a Kickstarter campaign for a short documentary film).

The report also includes a helpful section that guides readers in forming their crowdfunding campaigns. The authors suggest, for instance, that communication of a project should include "strong video content; a written narrative; [a] campaign owner's passion; multi-tiered broadcasting; and demographics-oriented communication." Although the publication is geared towards architects, you certainly don't have to be an architect to appreciate the detail and guidance it provides. (The white paper is available here in its entirety as a PDF).

Image: Stephen L. Harlow/Flickr

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