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Archipelago’s First Anniversary – A Message from Brian Liu, Founder

Today, as Archipelago turns one, I find myself reflecting on a journey that's taken me from being a civil engineer in Toronto to founding this collaboration network.

Back in 2008, I started my career with a passion for using technology to improve design workflows. While at a large consulting firm in Toronto, I was part of the shift from 2D to 3D CAD, not just learning new software, but also pioneering improved teamwork and design processes.

My path then led me to Calgary, where I embraced outdoor activities in the Rockies, gaining new insights into work-life balance and community involvement. My next chapter began in Squamish in 2016, amidst a development boom. Here, I led the digital overhaul of my team’s design workflow, integrating tools like Microsoft Teams and OneNote, and creating a central resource hub. This period also saw us smoothly transition to remote work during the pandemic, proving the effectiveness of our digital strategies.

These experiences solidified my belief in the great potential of collaboration, technology, and innovative thinking, leading to the founding of Archipelago.

climbing Star Chek near Squamish
Climbing the classic route, Star Chek, near Squamish, BC (2017)

Why I Founded Archipelago

I founded Archipelago to address several gaps in the AEC industry. Despite having advanced design software, I noticed firms were barely scratching the surface of its potential, often due to a culture that undervalued innovative, non-billable work.

Additionally, I observed a notable lack of collaboration and knowledge sharing, in stark contrast to the tech industry, which has long recognized the importance of these elements. This often led to inefficiencies in large-scale projects, causing redesigns, miscommunications, and delays.

Archipelago was my solution to these challenges. It's a platform designed to foster collaboration and innovation, encouraging member firms to push boundaries and rethink traditional practices.

Reflecting on Our First Year

Our inaugural year saw Archipelago evolve from an idea into a budding network with three member firms. We focused on making sure our own operations were streamlined before we could fully support our members. This included experimenting with integrated business solutions and automation, and working with LANDEV to develop templates and integrate project management tools like Streamtime.

We also explored various accounting and fintech solutions and built our capacity for hiring contractors globally. A key part of our first year was personal outreach, connecting with potential partners and sharing our vision.

Looking Ahead to 2024

The next year is all about growth. We aim to increase our membership, which in turn will boost collaboration and make Archipelago even more attractive to prospective members.

We're also excited to welcome a team of advisors, experts in technology, finance, law, and the AEC industry. They will be instrumental in guiding Archipelago and offering our members access to specialized knowledge.

In the coming months, we'll unveil new services and partnerships, aligning with our mission to enhance productivity and embrace technology to meet the demands for infrastructure and housing.

Thank you all for being part of this journey. Here's to many more years of growth and innovation at Archipelago!