The Value of Hiring an Architect
There are some common assumptions and misconceptions about the role of an architect. An architect’s most fundamental purpose, and the reason for having a professional license is to protect the life safety, health, and welfare of the occupants of the buildings they design. However, there are many other tangible and intangible benefits a building design professional offers. While it may seem easy to view an architect’s fee as another added cost to your project, professional architectural services actually add value to projects in a multitude of ways.
5 Ways an Architect Provides Unique Expertise and Value
1. Proper Design
Good design properly balances scale, proportion, massing, material use, and aesthetic relevancy. It incorporates many other variables such as site or environmental concerns, building occupancy and functional needs, and spatial experience qualities. Design has the ability to engage or disengage people which contributes to the vitality and success of a building’s intended use.
2. Social or Community Relevancy
All building types require a compatibility within the context they are built. Whether a single-family residence, urban mixed-use project, or a suburban commercial building. It is easy to take for granted that all buildings must incorporate proper planning and social experiential qualities that make them compatible within the fabric of our society and communities.
3. Problem Solving (Creativity vs. Pragmatism)
The design of any building type is essentially an exercise in solving the puzzle of how various distinct spaces and uses should fit together in a compatible, functional, and pleasing way. Some of the most challenging issues on a project can, in fact, produce some of the most creative and original design solutions. An architect brings value to a project when he or she can take a challenging problem to solve and make it an opportunity for creativity and pragmatism to work with the highest potential synergy.
4. Cost Control
The magnitude of site and building design requirements for any given building type has a direct correlation to the feasibility of the project budget. An experienced design professional can be an asset for gaining understanding of the monetary and performance values of material selections and their relative costs, construction methodologies, various design approaches, and long-term maintenance or replacement costs.
5. Sustainable & Lifecycle Value
A building’s sustainability can be quantified through its lasting aesthetic quality, but also for its performance-based value over a long-term period. Architects can profoundly influence these aspects of building design. Good design will age well, have an appreciative value, and therefore offer a positive impact on the built environment. Likewise, sustainable building practices and materials will add long-term value to a building’s energy performance, materials lifecycle, and interior environmental qualities.
Not all the professionals within your project team have a comprehensive understanding of the entire project like the architect. Whether the project is a single-family residence or a commercial building, the architect best understands the necessary pre-design and planning variables, site and environmental concerns, proper space design and circulation, life safety considerations and structural requirements, aesthetic value, construction materials and details, and how building occupants function within the building’s intended use.
In our economically hypersensitive culture, architects are often viewed as an unneeded necessary means to an end in order to accomplish designing and building a project. As demonstrated, there are many great reasons to hire an architect beyond the requirement of the law or building codes. The value added to a project’s experiential qualities, practical usability, and long-term sustainability creates an equity that cannot always be easily measured.