Top Questions to Ask When Choosing an Architecture Firm
No matter the industry, the process of designing and constructing a building is a significant investment. A building with a 50-year life span has the potential to pay dividends 100 times over the life of that project. Therefore, when looking for an architecture firm, it’s essential to consider more than just cost. Designing a building is a collaborative and relationship-focused process. It’s essential to select one that will produce the best results for your needs and be a trusted advisor putting your priorities first.
Be prepared to ask the following questions to help ensure a successful project.
What are your company’s goals, objectives and guiding principles for the project?
Before you begin searching for an architecture firm, establish your project goals internally. Understanding your budget and top project priorities is essential when entering discussions with potential partners. If you can set expectations upfront on what aspects are required and what can be trimmed to remain in budget, it will make sure everyone is on the same page and help streamline decisions as the project progresses.
What is the architecture firm’s design approach?
The expertise that architecture firms offer clients extends beyond the building’s appearance. They also address how the building functions, the types of technology integrated, and how occupants move within the space. Before selecting a firm, ask them to explain their design approach for all of these aspects to ensure they can deliver an innovative, functional and aesthetically pleasing end product.
Multidisciplinary firms can bring a wealth of diverse knowledge and expertise that an industry-specific firm may not have.
What are the architecture firm’s areas of expertise and project experience?
It’s not uncommon for architecture firms to specialize in specific industries. Still, holistic experience across multiple industries is often just as valuable. Multidisciplinary firms can bring a wealth of diverse knowledge and expertise that an industry-specific firm may not have. When speaking to potential architecture partners, ask for relevant experience, references and similar project examples, no matter the industry.
Who from the architecture firm will actually be working on your project?
It’s critical to know upfront who from an architecture firm will be dedicated to your project. A firm might have decades of experience, but you also need to know that the people executing the hands-on work have the necessary experience and expertise.
Different firms often have varying priorities, so it’s important to establish clear communication and alignment on budget, expectations and responsibilities.
Is the architecture firm in sync with the rest of your project team?
Your architecture firm needs to collaborate well with the general contractor. Different firms often have varying priorities, so it’s important to establish clear communication and alignment on budget, expectations and responsibilities. Ask potential architecture firms if they have experience working with your preferred GC and how they form positive working relationships from day one.
Does the architecture firm align with your company culture?
Arguably, the most crucial consideration before hiring an architecture firm is to ask yourself and your team if you can trust them. Every project encounters challenges, big and small, so you need a team that will work alongside you to develop solutions and deliver exceptional service. If you’re aligned on how you approach the project and your ultimate expectations and outcomes, you can establish a foundation of trust to build a successful project.
Every market, project and team is unique, so the order of importance of these questions when selecting an architecture firm may shift. For example, a healthcare system that needs a building it will own and operate for decades will have different priorities than a developer primarily interested in property sales. However, each question should be considered during your next architecture firm search to ensure a successful project and a valuable working relationship.
If you are looking for an architecture firm, reach out to our team and leverage these questions to see if we would be the best partner for your next project.
Partner | Design Manager
Michael works with clients and project teams to translate a client’s business vision into a design that works to achieve their objectives. His well-rounded professional experience includes design, programming, project management, construction documents, and client management for a variety of healthcare and education projects.