Making an investment to your business in the form of space is one fraught with complexities. It usually begins with the CEO and financial controller engaged in a number-crunching exercise and the stark realisation that there is only a certain pot of money available to spend. Layers of high-level collaboration with stakeholders ensues over many months as the need to juggle the business needs and wants and cash-flow become a stark reality.

Once the decision has been made and rubber-stamped the rush to the head frivolities begin as excitement builds at the realisation of new ground being broken, new possibilities that were once a pipe-dream and new paths being tread. So, the collaboration must now continue in earnest and the search for a design company in the form of an architect to help bring this vision to life begins. Some stakeholders push for a well-established firm, others are keen to push the creative envelope and seek out new firms. Nobody around the table can proffer up more than basic design skills of the architectural merit and fear sets in, so in a moment of rebound panic the long-established firm wins the bid.

Fast forward 3 months later and the presentation has taken place for the new building. The company were appointed a senior architect for the project who came and spoke about the scale and project complexities as they presented the drawings laid out across the page, engulfing the once enormous boardroom table. Many markings were made, oohs and aah’s exchanged as everyone became excited with the possibilities. A hand goes up. ‘I’m struggling to picture the packing line area for QC inspection, is it possible to have this in 3d?’ I was watching a home design show last night on TV and they were able to walk their client through their new home’.  The architect quickly rises to his feet, offering up many excuses that this is how it is always done, and it is very expensive to produce in 3d’. The meeting continues.

‘So, when can we get started’, came a reply from the back of the room? ‘When we pass these to the engineer and QS, we sit down again to review’ ‘, came the earnest reply.

Fast forward another 3 months and the mood in the room is altogether more sombre. The precarious heights scaled with the initial design have come crashing down with the sobering reality that after the meeting the other professionals found much to query, and the budget has now far surpassed the initial estimate. A familiar voice is heard in stealth tones from the back of the boardroom ‘we cannot afford this, and we need time to take stock of all of this. I find it highly unusual to create a prototype and not work with your collaborative team before presenting this to us. As a manufacturing company it would be unheard of to create a prototype without engaging all stakeholders before presenting to a client. Can you tell me why this wasn’t done?’.

The architect stiffened in preparation to reply.

‘You see this is how it is always done; we prepare the design, see if you like it and then talk to our other colleagues for further input’. The meeting ended and everyone left feeling deflated and scratching their heads in frustration, not quite being able to put a finger on what happened or where to from here.

You see, the adage of this is how it’s always done just doesn’t cut the mustard any longer; organisations spend every waking minute designing for their customers. They are creatively fine-tuned and need to see their new space in full 3d to walk it and feel their way through. Offering a 2d plan nowadays is akin to asking a person to buy their car without ever test-driving it or even seeing it. Sounds crazy right? This is exactly what is happening when you are being presented a new building or space in a set of plan drawings for serious consideration. Sure, they have a place for the architect to prepare for their own spatial planning and brief consideration but handing them to a client whose currency and language is not this is downright disrespectful. It is not more expensive to have your design presentation in full 3d using properly licensed products; yes it takes time to train and build your specifications libraries but the cost saving to the customer means that the real value can be given and that isn’t always measured in euros and the opportunity for the architectural team to engage in proper collaborative work means you get a much happier design team that WILL produce great work together.

 

Written by Karen Douglas

Karen looks after all clients from the first call to handover and brings 15 years as a coach to the practice. She has recently completed a Masters in Business specialising in Lean Operational Excellence and is passionate that all customers get a jargon-free service that puts them at the centre of all communication and one that meets their needs and wants.

Visit the author's website: http://www.dmgarchitects.ie