Pull your client through the design process

A client recently had a major issue with a subcontractor. We were rapidly approaching opening day for a substantial project that had been a decade in the making, but this one system was still not functioning the way it needed to so that we could ensure the safety of the people using the building.

The client was rightfully frustrated that the subcontractor was so far behind. The people working for the subcontractor were under significant stress and were not responding well to the angry feedback. It was a very uncomfortable few days for everyone on the team, but thankfully everything came together. Unfortunately, we all developed a few more gray hairs and wrinkles in the process.

This could have been avoided had the subcontractor taken a leadership role and “pulled” the client through the process. While the client had experience using and maintaining the system, they had little experience doing the initial programming on a project of this magnitude. However, the subcontractor had been through the process numerous times and should have been actively leading the client to the finish line.

Architects and designers should keep this lesson in mind. Our clients live and work in buildings every day, but they usually don’t know what it takes to go from nothing, to a completed design, to a fully constructed building. It is our job to keep them on-time and on-budget. We have been through the process before.

It is important to develop the ability and confidence to let your client know when they are starting to delay a project or make it more expensive. Then we need to educate them on how we can right the ship long before it starts to sink.

Sometimes it will be uncomfortable, but you need to pull your client through the design process. They will be thankful when everything goes smoothly, even if they have no idea what disasters you helped them avoid.


February Billings Continue Decline

The Architecture Billings Index continued to contract in February at 48.0. That makes four months of declines in a row, but the level of decline remains fairly consistent - a sharper drop would be more concerning. New design contracts increased last month, but at a slower pace from January.

This month’s commentary covers jobs and salaries. While the number of architectural jobs has fallen recently, firms report that they are still having trouble recruiting new talent. Firms are also concerned about meeting compensation expectations since salaries rose substantially in 2022. If you need help asking for a raise, Archtoolbox can help.

February: 48.0, January: 49.3, December: 47.5, November: 46.6, October: 47.7, September: 51.7

ABI February 2023: Business conditions remain soft at architecture firms

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Changing the Culture of Architectural Education and Practice

In this first post of a series, Evelyn Lee argues that the culture of both architecture education and practice at firms needs to change. She suggests that the next generation of leaders and new graduates are ready to make that change, but that it has to be done intentionally to be successful.

The Culture of Architecture Needs an Overhaul, Part 1: The Necessity of Cultural Change

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An Architectural Firm is a Business

Expanding on changing the culture of a firm, Erin Pellegrino and Jake Rudin argue that firms should spend time designing the design firm much like they spend time designing buildings.

I would expand their argument that each project within the firm should operate as a business unit with clear goals that contribute to the firm’s bottom line (financially, and in general.)

Architects should design their businesses just like they design their buildings

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Artificial Intelligence Is Coming to Architecture

So far, most of what we have seen from artificial intelligence in the architecture world is in the form of fantastical imagery, but things are advancing rapidly and the new AI imaging platforms are becoming more useful. The Life of an Architect Podcast explores where things may be headed.

Ep 122: Architecture and Artificial Intelligence

Also, check out this list of AI Tools for the AEC Industry. I wonder if we should curate such a list at Archtoolbox.

AI Tools for AEC