26 March 2014
Yes, most things will eventually remind me of architecture or this profession.
A few weeks ago, my family traveled so my son could compete in a state math competition. This of course means hotels and restaurants over the long weekend. (I have a hotel story too, but I’ll save it). We ate out for lunch and dinner and our success is typically good because my wife and I research possible places ahead of time. Later we decide as we go with a list of potential choices. We love to find new interesting places with unique and fresh foods or something special, something that we can’t get exactly at home. There’s no point eating at McDonald’s while traveling when I can eat at McDonald’s at home (and that’s only for my son).
We visited places that each had a sharp web site, an appealing image, really good food and a nice atmosphere, but there was something about the experience in two cases that was disappointing. In one case it was a misunderstanding of the food and how it was prepared, how it was presented along with an unusually long wait to get the food. Simply put, we (my son primarily) did not get what we had envisioned, and it took too long to get. Our expectations were not met. Did we have unrealistic expectations or did the pictures, website and menu represent false expectations?
The next day at a second place, a similar thing happened where again our son did not get a dinner that he had envisioned. I think that was largely our fault for not reading carefully or asking questions. We weren’t properly engaged. Nevertheless, we were seated too close to the front door so we were uncomfortable for most of our dinnertime. The entrance did not have an airlock and the second door did not have a closer. My wife got up several times to “close the door” while giving the stink-eye to the hostess. We thought we were to be seated somewhere else, but as we followed the host, the manager guided him back to seat us by the door. It was very crowded, a small dining room and the last “comfortable” table was promised to someone else. Every time someone came in, the cold air seemed to aim right at us. The waitress was overbooked with tables and did not return soon enough to check on us. Again, the food in this case was good but other aspects of the service did not complete an experience that left us satisfied or content.
As architects we need to be able to deliver a wonderful building, a wonderful space, a wonderful environment. However, if it is off the mark in terms of what the client envisioned or off the mark in terms of the time it was supposed to take, the client can go away with the same disappointment as we went away with from our dinner experiences.
There certainly is responsibility on both sides. We could have been more careful in reading the menu and more proactive in asking questions about the items on the menu. However, as a customer, most of the things were not in our control and it left us disappointed – despite a good-looking product. That’s the memory.
photo is from copernicus’ stock photo gallery on Stock.Xchng (used under the Standard Restrictions)