yes, we do that

12 March 2013

2013-03-12 19.15.34

I suppose I cannot speak for anyone other than myself on this issue, but I find it extremely relevant to our profession. Last week I had two meetings with potential clients. At one point in the meeting each person said “you do that” with a look of being surprised but impressed. What they were referring to was “design” – their term not mine. In other words they didn’t realize architects can choose features other than the structure and wall placement, in other words the fixtures and finishes. Choosing finishes and fixtures (paint colors, wood finishes, lighting fixtures, countertops, flooring, furniture, accessories, etc.) is extremely important to me as it completes the overall vision for the project. I don’t approach it in a FLW-over-the-top-control-freak way, but I think it is important to carry a design theme through from the big idea to the details and finishes. This is architecture.

 2013-03-12 19.12.29

Perhaps the reaction that sparked this post should cause me just to chuck this one up to the public not knowing or understanding what architects do (or can do). It’s unfortunate. I can’t say that I get to make all of these decisions on every project but I expect to offer the service unless I am told otherwise. On a commercial project I consider the finishes carefully as they are part of the image or branding of the business or institution. I explain this at the outset. On residential projects it is not intended to take the “fun part” away from the client. In fact it is the most enjoyable when I work side-by-side with my clients and we work out these finishes and select the fixtures together. If we have a common goal and a common vision, then the results can be really amazing, however, HGTV has made everyone believe they can be a designer.

 2013-03-12 19.12.01

What is difficult at times to explain is how the architect has (or should have) an overall vision for the project. You should expect your architect to have an overall vision. We are more than technicians that draw floor plans and work out code issues. If your architect can’t do more than that, then why did you hire them? (Don’t answer that, I know why).

 Welty House Colors Before_After_Page_1

Now back to our client meeting or interview when people need to know that you are capable of making those decisions and trust your shared vision of the project. If clients don’t think about these things, then we need to guide them to think about these things. Give them reasons beyond opinion, preference and taste.

So answer is “yes we do that.”

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5 Responses to “yes, we do that”

  1. Jeremiah Says:

    Reblogged this on r | one studio architecture and commented:
    “yes, we do that.”
    If I could count the number of times I’ve uttered these exact words in my career…well, even if I could count that high, I wouldn’t want to.
    This post expands nicely on another post by Lee titled “I just need a drawing”. Architects are about much more than just putting lines on a page and “getting it through permitting”. There’s a “something” that we bring to the table that isn’t tangible, but it’s no less important and valuable to your project. As your architect what that “something” is that he/she brings to your project. You’ll be glad you did.

  2. William Thompson Says:

    Designing for residential is always fun..We have access to suppliers of fixtures and materials that most clients never knew existed..Yes, it is true HGTV has given the public the notion that there is nothing to designing a structure..They seldom see the behind the scenes work that must be done such as all of the calculations that go on..Boring stuff to the public..

    • leecalisti Says:

      HGTv has hurt and helped us. There are far more design element accessible to the public without having to special order them. However, as you pointed out they edit out the “work” part of what we do and only show the “magic.” The work is what they have to pay for because it takes time.

  3. Kevin O'Brien Says:

    “Yes we do that”

    Lee, I know exactly where you are coming from. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to walk potential customers through the process of what we do as Architects! You know I wish our professional association (AIA) was better at communicating to the general public what we do and how we do it! Other professional organizations are very good at it! I guess it’s up to us to continue educating the consumer on what it is we do for a living! I enjoy your blog! Kevin

    • leecalisti Says:

      I’m with you and I’ve complained about the AIA too. However, I’m not exactly sure how I’d want them to do that if I could dictate it. I suppose now I just keep finding ways to do it on my own and through the collective voice of architects like us. It’s one person at a time. Thanks for reading.


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