Whitewashing Camels: Powerful Fun

There’s an old joke about the pitfalls of group think: A camel is a horse deigned by committee.

Projects of any kind, any size, and any range of complexity require identifiable goals and clearly defined roles and responsibilities. When construction projects are designed and managed by committees two things are sure to happen. First, communally designed projects tend to become constellations of ideas with loose relationships to each other rather than unified works of architecture, and second, the less exciting, but no less important, management of the work suffers due to fluctuating schedules, ill defined responsibilities and poor communication of expectations and possibilities.

When hiring an architect consider a couple things:

1) There is a spectrum of operating philosophy that architects work within. At one extreme is a bespectacled and bow-tied 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 best done by you. Find an architect in the middle of this spectrum, someone who listens to and understands your goals for the project AND employs their personal expertise 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, and you may not even be able to decide what that something is, appeals to you.