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Trust Your Architect

This is my contribution to this month’s ArchiTalks topic, “Advice to Clients.”

The other posts are linked below; you can also find them on Twitter by following the hashtag, #ArchiTalks.



When I ran my own architecture firm, Thousand Story Studio, I spent a lot of time upfront educating my clients.

See, most of my clients also ran small businesses. They were experts at what they did (medical practices, restaurants, retail stores, etc)  but they often knew very little about design and construction. Some potential clients came to me with the most basic questions about zoning and code requirements. A few were forced to postpone or cancel their projects when they learned what was involved. Hard lessons indeed!

I learned right away that informing my clients should actually begin with my marketing. “The one who educates the market owns the market,” was the advice I eagerly acted on. I made much of “storytelling” as a means to that education.

Marketing Content

I’m now in a position where such one-on-one teaching isn’t integral to the work I do. I miss it. I still want people to understand what Architects actually do, and to know the incredible value an Architect can add to a project – when given the opportunity. (Now I carry on this educational mission though my short story writing. More on that later.)

My advice to clients in an architecture project could best be summed up in this:

Trust your Architect

A design client seldom questions his doctor, lawyer or accountant. Those experts are are worth whatever fee they charge. Even a plumber, a mechanic or computer tech generally gets to name their price.

Dear Client, please engage your Architect wholeheartedly. Ask questions, listen to the hard-won wisdom, enjoy the process. Trust your Architect! He or she has a wealth of insight and instincts to make your project succeed.

You’ll end up with your own personal “architectural story” and you’ll be glad you did.

Now, please read these other architects and heed their advice…

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
advice to clients

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
ArchiTalks: Advice for Clients

Collier Ward – One More Story (@BuildingContent)
Trust Your Architect

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Advice List — From K thru Architect

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
advice for clients

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
A Few Reminders

Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
[tattoos] and [architecture]

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Changing the World

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Advice for Clients

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Questions to Ask an Architect in an Interview: Advice for Clients

Samantha R. Markham – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Dear Client,

Kyu Young Kim – J&K Atelier (@sokokyu)
Advice for Clients

Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Advice for clients

Rusty Long – Rusty Long, Architect (@rustylong)
Advice for Clients

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Advice 4 Building

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Advice for Clients

Gabriela Baierle-Atwood – Gabriela Baierle-Atwood (@gabrielabaierle)
What I wish clients knew


    1. Collier Ward /Reply

      Great question, Mark.
      I personally believe it’s because the public at large doesn’t understand what we do and therefore they don’t value what we do.

      I believe that we individually need to be better communicators and that some of us need to step up as storytellers – speakers, writers, filmmakers, etc. to present the “thousand stories” of architecture.


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