EXPERTISE FROM EXPERTS
By James Dougherty, Managing Principal – Alaska
DATE PUBLISHED: Aug 3, 2021
When some people think of architects, they think of beautiful public-facing facilities that alter the skyline and aesthetic of cities and universities. Few architects are responsible for these visions that form our society’s collective history. Most architectural firms are busy with smaller, yet important, problem-solving services.
There is a good deal of misinformation, or myths, surrounding what services the architect provides, if not high-profile project design. Our intent is to dispel these myths and help guide potential clients in understanding what services the architect can provide.
Myth #1: Your projects are recognized and award‐winning; you must be very expensive.
University of Alaska, Anchorage, Consortium Library
While it is true that an architect’s advice is not free, what may not be common knowledge is that architect fee structures are very similar throughout the industry. However, while the hourly billing rate may be similar, what a given architect can do in that hour may vary widely.
Expertise and ability should be the guiding factors in choosing services. An architect who specializes in a certain building type or process will know countless time-saving details, flattening the learning curve and providing greater efficiencies in problem solving. For this reason, high stakes clients like the federal and state government, universities, and larger entities that spend millions annually on buildings, select their architects on qualifications, rather than price, saving you money in the end.
Myth #2: My project is too small for you to consider.
What problem is too small to be solved effectively? Problem-solving and expert advice don’t “scale” with a problem’s magnitude. The experience gained from exposure to a variety of complex issues is exactly what makes the architect’s experience relevant. Whether the project is large or small, the knowledge gained can be leveraged every day, with everyday challenges.
Myth #3: I don’t need a professional for my type of problem. I have a friend.
The title “architect” has spread like wildfire throughout the business world. For example, there are “healthcare plan architects”, “software architects”, and even “solution architects”. The title of “architect” is applied to imply a broad understanding of complex systems.
A real architect has gone through rigorous training, an internship, and passed a nine-part exam. A registered architect knows much more about how to identify, plan, and solve your issues than a client’s “friend”.
Myth #4: I prefer the simplicity of a “one stop shop” approach to professional services. RIM just provides architectural services. How can I keep track of all the various disciplines necessary?
We hear this a lot. Well-trained architects are experienced in coordinating information from other professionals engaged in a project. What distinguishes RIM’s approach is that we select project team members based on the unique challenges of the project to ensure the work is suited to the client’s needs. We provide a single point of contact for the client—usually the project manager—to help ensure simplicity.
Sometimes Less is All You Need
Our goal is to become our client’s trusted design partner, building relationships as well as bricks and mortar. While not every client is in the market for a sparkling new building, we want to surprise our clients with other ways we can add value through partnership and collaboration.
Some lesser-known services that RIM can offer clients include the following:
- Fixing leaky roofs, windows, and walls
- Addressing mold issues
- Roof/wall, or window replacement
- Re-stacking a business for better efficiency
- Promotional brochures
- Energy-efficiency audits
- Noise, vibration troubleshooting
- Custom furnishings
- Building management
- Corrosion control
- Feasibility and environmental impact studies and site selection studies