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Originally published in Interiors & Sources

02/19/2013

Crowdfunding Architecture

 
In a time of economic uncertainty, architects and developers are turning to crowdfunding projects.

In today’s financial environment developers and architects are discovering new ways to get projects off the ground.  Crowdfunding, the practice of investing in projects through the use of a crowd-supported web based fundraising campaign, may show significant promise for attracting investors to smaller real estate projects and getting them off the architect’s drawing board, according to a report issued by the American Institute of Architects.

According to the white paper, “Crowdfunding Architecture,” the increasingly popular tool is being used to leverage dedicated internet fundraising websites to spur community support and financing for an assortment of infrastructure ventures that would ordinarily have difficulty finding money due to their smaller size.

The report, compiled for the AIA by massolution, inc., concludes that “donation-based crowdfunding” holds the most potential as a financing tool for beleaguered developers and architects. According to massolution’s May 2012 “Crowdfunding Industry Report,” the amount of money generated by crowdfunding was close to $1.5 billion in 2011, of which almost half was raised via donation-based crowdfunding.

That’s because the donation-based crowdfunding campaign model relies not on providing tangible returns for its success, but rather the enthusiasm of a local community for causes such as covering an individual’s medical expenses, political campaigns or community projects that would otherwise require municipality or government funding for completion, the report concludes.

For the architect, who is often the primary catalyst for new projects and construction, the crowdfunding concept holds special promise. Usually architects’ role in funding projects is limited. But crowdfunding increases the role of architects in the funding cycle by providing investment models and communications tools for a broad array of self-selected projects, from pedestrian bridges to urban skyscrapers, the report notes.

Crowdfunding Architecture” details specific examples where crowdfunding has already had an impact in providing financial support for community projects that were too small to get started with traditional financing methods. A link to the report can be found here. A link to the AIA’s database of Stalled Projects can be found here.

 

 
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