How To Pick an Architect… Even If It’s Not ATXA

When hiring an architect consider a couple things:

1) There is a spectrum of operating philosophies that architects work within. At one extreme is an inspired genius who delivers to you a design completely independent of your programmatic or budgetary needs. At the other end of the spectrum is the Tom Sawyer architect, the collaborative designer, who shifts the entire design process to the you. They convince you that the work you hired them for is actually much better done by you. These two types of architectural characters represent extremes and you should try to find an architect in the middle of this spectrum. The best relationships will evolve when you find an architect who listens to and understands your goals for the project AND employs their expertise and experience to deliver their best interpretation of your architectural needs.

2) There is a reason people hire particular architects: signature. Their signature is some quality which is identifiable in all the work they’ve done in the past. This doesn’t mean, for example, that all the houses they’ve designed look the same, but it might mean that something, even if you’re not able to decide what that something is, appeals to you.

So how to choose. Start with the signature and then select the character. By starting with a list of architects whose work you find appealing, you can be much more confident that the end product will appeal to you. Once you have a short list, interview them. Ask them directly what your responsibilities will be and what they will deliver to you. Make sure they explain the process from start to finish, from the first time they put pen to paper to the moment they hand you the keys to the front door. If you’re not happy with the answers you get, interview the next architect on your short list. Your goal is to identify the architect whose signature and character you are most comfortable with.

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