Ways Architects Deliver Value

Architects wear many hats (and not necessarily hard hats). However, our roles and responsibilities are among the most misunderstood in the industry. This week I’d like to shed light on five ways an architect can add value during the scope of a project.

Here are some of the key skills any effective architect should have:

Critical questioning—Anyone can take in basic information, but the skilled architect knows how to draw out the not-so-obvious details. This requires going beyond the basic problem-solving and questioning a client’s vague requirements or nebulous goals. Digging deeper allows the architect to design a space that will not only solve a single problem or need, but will work well within the context of the entire company or brand.

An ability to analyze—The wise architect will take a basic inquiry one step further, analyzing the collected intelligence to get to the core issues. This process includes getting to the root of the problem, developing possible solutions and determining the interplay between the two and the ways to realize efficiencies within those. Can areas be combined to serve two functions? Can a change in layout create a better flow?

A clear picture—An ability to visualize design and to translate that into models, drawings and renderings helps a client understand the abstract in a tangible way. These representations should show the space from a number of viewpoints so that all parties have a clear understanding of what the finished product will look like. A unified vision is integral to any successful project.

Communication skills—Even the best plan can’t forge forward if all of the parties don’t know how to proceed and in what direction. Architects play a critical role in formalizing specifications, whether though detailed documentation, models or specific instructions. They also have another important responsibility: rallying the troops. If all parties and stakeholders understand the goals, process and value of the project, then it can move along smoothly.

Supportive role—Engaging an architect should make the build-out process simpler. That’s why the ability to enable and assist clients, serving in a consultative role, is of supreme importance. The architect should have an uncanny ability to anticipate needs before they even arise.

So, now it’s time to turn the tables. What do you value in your architect relationship? Tell me what skill is a must for delivering value. I always welcome hearing from you!


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.

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