09 May 2017

Advice List — From K thru Architect

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Advice is like noise. Some of it is good like gentle music, children’s laughter or a targeted whisper, but some of it is bad like heavy traffic, guttural shrieks or angry voices. A discriminating ear successfully separates the good noise from bad. Judgement, however, is more subjective and requires conscious thought to distinguish between good and bad. In the absence of an unconditional advice-authority, I defer to Robert Fulghum, the author of  All I needed to know I learned in Kindergarten. Robert conceived an advice list some scholars declare is the most comprehensive human behavior recipe so I adopted this slightly redacted version of the All-I-Needed-I-Learned-in-Kindergarten advice for working with an architect.


An architect does his or her best work when immersed in a project and true immersion relies on intimate and accurate information. Share your dreams, ideas, expectations, limitations and most importantly share your budget. Architects use everything you share to develop the best project to meet your goals.


When you hire an architect, you hire the person for their time and expertise. Every architecture project requires exploration and your architect wants to explore scenarios to find the ultimate design solution. Additional exploration requires additional time and/or expertise. It’s important to play fair and acknowledge revisions or redirection may cost more money.


An architecture curriculum and studio-life rely on honest and critical feedback so architects consider constructive criticism an absolute to improve design concepts. Initial solutions may not contain every feature a client envisioned and there is often a well-reasoned explanation for the design content. Your architect won’t expect you to sugar-coat feedback, but won’t respond positively to verbal hits.


Part of being a good earth-steward is to preserve and restore site elements and features. Construction is a destructive process that begins with a demolition phase followed by new construction and reconstruction phases. Include site preservation to protect unique land features and restoration to put things back on your project site.


We only have one earth. Construction sites are inherently messy, but don’t have to be a nuisance to neighboring property or the environment. Ask your contractor to employ LEED-like on-site waste management programs and confirm the superintendent is responsible for perpetual and daily clean-up.


Copyright and trademark are protected ideas. No matter how much you prefer the building design across the street, it’s unscrupulous to take another professional’s work and reuse it without permission. No ethical architect will pilfer intellectual capital. If (s)he does, find an architect who can create ideas rather than take ideas.


Washing hands is an informal contract with your stomach that you’re committed to consuming a meal. Your architect needs a similar commitment. Once you sign the contract to initiate work, the architect expects you to be prepared for design milestones. Bring appropriate personnel to meetings, make informed decisions and reserve project funding for timely bid execution. Solid preparation begets successful execution.


You can’t have everything you want. You will unknowingly identify project scope, features and finishes that compromise your budget. Your architect will challenge you to prioritize requirements and desires to establish an affordable and executable project. Budget vs. design is a simple equation. You either find more money, choose less expensive options or Whoosh!


Chicken soup is a distant second to soul-regenerating warm cookies and milk. Make time to celebrate and include your architect in the celebration. We like cookies too, especially the organic, carob chip and gluten-free varieties our heart-friendly clients bake for us.


This should be obvious. Some things are bigger than architecture … like cookies!


A creative mind is always working, but the design mind needs rest to do it’s best work. State your desired completion date but allow the architect to schedule time to periodically reflect and evaluate a project solution against goals and budget. Short naps or inactive periods unearth more robust solutions but beware a prolonged delay which can stall creative energy and derail a project.


Being part of a design team means sticking together. At some point in the design journey you may feel lost but your architect and guide has successfully navigated many projects similar to yours and has a master plan. Resist the temptation to redirect a project. Hold on and follow your architect through this purposeful design journey.


Architects often present multiple concepts, but concepts aren’t always interchangeable so a feature in one design may not translate well into another. You’re not likely to build more than one project so pursuing multiple solutions is costly and time consuming. Even if you like unique aspects in alternate solutions, one design will separate itself as the most ideal and appropriate solution. Embrace the winner and let the consolation ideas die.


Observation is your biggest ally. Look at similar building types, neighborhood fabric, traffic patterns, light movement, wind direction, planning criteria, site layout, massing and infrastructure. Your architect will observe and document how these elements affect your project and if you also observe these site features the final solution will have more meaning and purpose. If you can’t look, then expect your architect to Look Out for you.

I’ll never profess that architecture is so easy that even a kid can do it, but advice relevant to a kindergarten student like sharing, playing, cleaning and living applies equally to every client and architect. So embrace the design spirit and ask your architect to come out and play.

Architalks Credits

This is another entry in Bob Borson’s blogging brain-child titled, “ArchiTalks”.

The #ArchiTalks goal is to inspire blogging architects with similar educational and professional requirements to opine on the same topic and simulpost their response so other architects and a broader audience can enjoy the rampant thought-diversity within the architecture profession

Select the links in “Architalks Entries” below to read how architects responded to the “Advice for Clients” topic.

image credits:

Architalks Entries

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
ArchiTalks: Advice for Working with an Architect

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Advice for ALL Clients

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
advice to clients

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
ArchiTalks: Advice for Clients

Collier Ward – One More Story (@BuildingContent)
Trust Your Architect

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Advice List — From K thru Architect

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
advice for clients

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
A Few Reminders

Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
[tattoos] and [architecture]

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Changing the World

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Advice for Clients

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Questions to Ask an Architect in an Interview: Advice for Clients

Samantha R. Markham – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Dear Client,

Kyu Young Kim – J&K Atelier (@sokokyu)
Advice for Clients

Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Advice for clients

Rusty Long – Rusty Long, Architect (@rustylong)
Advice for Clients

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Advice 4 Building

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Advice for Clients

Gabriela Baierle-Atwood – Gabriela Baierle-Atwood (@gabrielabaierle)
What I wish clients knew

About the Author

Your Architect is Eric Faulkner -- an architect licensed in Texas & Oklahoma with 32 years experience in design, construction observation and life.