Ideal Architectural Client
We have been in business for long enough that we have been fortunate to work with a very wide variety of clients and personalities. We know some from past projects, or we know their families, or patronize their businesses. Others are strangers who will become friends as the project progresses.
Contrary to what you might be thinking, our ideal client is NOT someone with unlimited budget who gives you carte blanche to “design whatever you want”. Though this would certainly have its perks, it would not really be what we DO, which is helping people solve problems. Clients come to us with their very unique requests, some more complex than others, and we work closely with them to create a solution.
All clients are different. Some clients are more hands on than others, all have varying degrees of understanding of drawings and the building process, some understand the role an architect plays and some do not. Regardless of their level of understanding, ideal clients are always invested in their project. This means that they are willing to dedicate their time and energy into the process in order for us to tailor the outcome to their specific desires. The below is excerpted from Panfilo, an architectural blog focusing on the business of architecture (https://panfilo.co/) .
We have had “good” clients and “bad” clients, and have grown familiar with the qualities that comprise both. The ideal client is:
She understands herself, her lifestyle, her tastes and her preferences. She is able to communicate these characteristics to us so that we may enshrine them in our design solution. She recognizes that she is not a customer [customers and consumers are different than clients], that she does not know how to solve her problem. She has engaged us to do what she cannot and is comfortable with this relationship.
She treats us not as an opposing force that must be managed, but as a partner in the shaping and execution of her dream and our design vision. She is honest with us, providing both positive and (constructively) negative feedback. She is also honest with herself, recognizing that her budget and brief [project requirements and scope] must be aligned with one another, a process of compromise that will require a great deal of self-reflection.
She inescapably comes to us with a pre-formed picture in her head of how she imagines her project will be. But if we were to design that picture, we would not be doing our job as architects. Our mandate is to take that picture, understand its ambitions and qualities, and improve upon it. A positive emotional response to our design is ideal, but when our proposal differs from the picture in the ideal client’s head, trust in our vision is essential.
She is not overawed by the quantity of decisions that must be made during the design and construction processes. She can review all the possible kitchen sink options, accept advice on the ones most suitable, choose, and move on without second-guessing herself. She understands that the construction of a building costs a considerable amount of money, and is prepared (if not necessarily overjoyed) to spend it.
She is committed to design quality and appreciates that a work of architecture embodies relationships to history, culture, the city, the street, the natural environment and future generations. She is enthusiastic about our interest in these relationships and is committed to exploring them with us. She shares our architectural values of sustainability, craft and the sublimely utilitarian. She understands the difference between cost and value, and is willing to invest in good design.
We work very closely with our clients, often for years. We value our relationships and work hard to make sure we have happy clients.
“We hope that by understanding what characteristics constitute the ideal client, we will be better armed to attract more of them.” –Roger Hargreaves, Panfilo
Written by Karen K. Klein, Project Architect and Partner at Agora Architecture