The first client meeting is not a discussion about a project. It is a compatibility interview that pushes the question, ‘is this a Good Architect and / or is this a Good Project’? Often times, the conversation is directed towards ‘how much will this cost’? And ‘how fast can it be completed’? The client seeks the appropriate professional, sometimes unknowingly, to carry out a specific job – 'His or Her Vision'. An impressive portfolio might drive a client to your doorstep, but only a good architect that responds to the client’s needs and reciprocates with dialogue that alleviate overwhelming anxiety, keeps the meeting focused on the pressing issues, and make it comfortable for the client, both expressive and emotional. This will bridge the trust and bring the client back repeatedly. We hear all too frequently, why us, and the Client answers ‘because we listen’. Our mantra of listening first while generating ideas for our clients has been the ingredient to successful projects and relationships. Any architect can generate plans, but a good architect needs to execute the final vision successfully.
Ok, so now that the client and architect are paired and both parties believe it’s a good fit with an initial vision for the project, what happens next? Well, let the crazy begin! No matter what schools, books or the internet says, no two projects are alike. Our ‘team player’ attitude is an essential part of the job throughout any project. We encourage the full team assigned to participate in the design side of the visioning process of the project, focusing on key aspects of the project. A small, team lead group, 3 – 5 people, drives our sweet spot for design ideas around the main ideas, flushing out multiple scenarios far beyond the initial concept. Exploring future outcomes before it happens, using different software and, of course, the timeless tool of sketching. Once we reach a consensus and the design is moved forward with the Client approval; We essentially always have multiple staff members on standby, ready to fill in at a moment’s notice to flex up or down for scheduling. An architect, team lead, plays a driver’s role to address the needs of the project, internal and external, as well as concerns of the client. Build in buffers for scheduling as projects may change, with hard stop dates for phases. A Good Architect is not only responsible for realizing and bringing a client’s vision to life, but unlocking the myriad of opportunities to fulfill the project needs sensitively and suitably. At the end of the day, most clients know what they need completed, just not the path to get there. Our teams understand if they see something, say something, a simple mantra that saves additional heartache in the end and the majority of the time, items can be fixed before it has a negative impact.
Therefore, it is extremely vital to Listen to the client. The various scenarios of usability of a space and maintaining a versatile meeting environment is a shared experience between the client and the architect. One hour client meetings often seem insufficient for a detailed discussion of a beautiful project. Therefore, concise communication with small doses of information should be prepared in an organized manner. It should not overwhelm the client in a meeting room while progressing with the vision and overall needs of the project. Lastly, a good architect – client relationship is key to creating not only a beautiful project but a relationship for a lifetime. Stay calm, at no point should the dialogue be misconstrued or misinterpreted by either party, internal or external, while discussing the project details. Therefore, control over emotions and an amiable discussion will ensure a strong healthy relationship that drives the project to fruition smoothly.