Architectural Myths Vs. Reality: Part Three


The design process is daunting and difficult. It’s a notion many believe to be true, but in reality, the role of an architect is to make it the exact opposite of that! That’s why I’ve chosen to discuss this misconception for my final article in this three-part series on architectural myths.

Professional architects are adept problem solvers. Their role is to help make designing a space as smooth of an experience as possible, offering choices where there were challenges and solutions where there were once stressful decisions. Dare I say it, working with an architect can be fun and even exhilarating! Knowing someone else has your best interests in mind and is thinking several steps ahead of where you’re up to reduces the number of not-so-pleasant surprises one can encounter along the way.

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From the very inception of a project, when the parties agree to work together, the architect assists the client with putting together a realistic budget and schedule, all vetted by coordinating with, and getting real numbers and timelines from, subcontractors and the parties that will help see the project through to completion. By managing expectations and agreeing on pre-set parameters, the project is off to a solid start.

An architect becomes a partner to his or her client, assisting them with bringing a vision into a space that suits its needs and meets codes. For example, my firm is currently working to design an office space for a well-known transportation company. We’ve already begun exploring locations throughout New York City and quickly performing test fit studies on the serious contenders to see if these potential “new homes” truly fit the bill. With each test fit, we’ve discovered new elements that impact the entire real estate deal as it’s developing. For instance, we now know that this company requires more space than they initially thought they did.

This scenario is hardly unique. The test fit process, coordinated with the expertise of a professional, is almost always a game changer. The requirements can shift on a daily basis — and to the betterment of the client. It can translate to many things: leasing more or less space; eliminating a particular building as an option; and honing in on a neighborhood, to name a few. What it should do is give the client a true understanding of its own needs and wants and the architect a better idea of how they can help that client bring those to fruition.

However, that’s just one example of how working with an architect can simplify the experience of leasing new space, moving or adding onto an existing one. During the design process, an architect will work with the client on major components and subtle technical pieces of the deal. They may advise on branding, finish choices and many other elements.

However, no matter which phase of the project a client is in, they should feel like they have a partner in the experience. Working with an architect can enhance the end results and increase a client’s satisfaction exponentially — a far cry from the commonly held myth about what the experience is like.

Scott E. Spector, AIA, is a principal at Spector Group, one of New York’s premier architecture and interior design firms and a leader in corporate tenant and building owner-based design. The award-winning company has affiliate offices nationally and internationally. To date, it has completed more than 1,500 projects.