The practice of architecture can be extremely rewarding. But like any profession, the practice of architecture must include attention to a host of various business and legal issues. For many architects, dealing with the myriad of requirements and the complexities they impose can be challenging, and there is a related subject that is often overlooked—ethics. In most instances, sound business or legal decisions will also serve to fulfill one’s ethical obligations. However, there are times when general business acumen will not serve to fully address ethical responsibilities or when ethical obligations dictate choices that are completely different than those from the business or legal perspective. It is in these situations that architects will be challenged to identify issues and formulate important yet difficult decisions that may serve to define one’s practice.
The design of the Citicorp Center in New York City provides an excellent case study to analyze the competing demands placed on design professionals and to examine how business, legal and ethical responsibilities must be carefully considered and balanced.