They say hind sight is 20/20, and they are correct. Looking back on something gives us the “what would I have done differently” perspective on any given thing that we choose to reflect on. Nothing can escape this desire, not even architecture and the architectural profession.
So what has 2010 taught us? Are there any great lessons to learn or are some correct that we are simply still in a downward spiral with no clear course back towards prosperity? Personally I think there were many lessons learned in 2010, but in a desire to keep this a short blog post, here are my
top 5 lessons I’ve learned as an architect in 2010
Architects are seeing the need to focus more on providing education and guidance to their clients rather than just providing a service in order to collect a fee.
As clients find less value in the typical services that an architect offers, architects are finding ways in which to add additional deliverables thereby increasing the architects value to the client.
With Builders and General Contractors continuing to market themselves as Design/Builders and push Architects out of their own market, the quality of construction will continue to decline and unfortunately further the clients’ perception that the architect is irrelevant.
We’ve allowed ourselves to be pushed out of our own market by not defending the quality of our work on behalf of our clients, thereby giving more power to the contractors to demean and devalue our work.
Even in a down economy, Architects can not afford to reduce their fees to the point of virtually working for free in a competitive market. We need to stand by our product and the value of our services (no different than a doctor or lawyer or mechanic) and, if necessary, tell clients to take a walk.
This last, and most important, lesson may seem extreme and some will even say “well, that just means someone else will take the job for less money”…I say let them. In VERY short order clients will see they got just what they paid for, or what they didn’t pay for, as it were, and will come to see that the little extra they would have paid in fee would have saved 10’s of thousands in cost later.
In an extreme economy and in extreme situations, it’s time for those worthy of the title “Architect” to stand up and be noticed by the profession and by clients as well. My goal for 2011 is to try and work towards reversing some of what I’ve talked about above. Architects are not just a necessary part of the construction process, but we are the first part of that process and we should all work to elevate ourselves to that position.