Before You Start: Setting Your Project Up for Success
May 2, 2024
Ron Dick, Partner, Senior Architect

Starting a build project can be intimidating, even if you’ve had experience with it before. There are many factors that go into a successful project, so where do you even begin? Two experts in the field at Design Collaborative, Ron Dick with the help of Mike Niezer, reveal everything you need to know about the entire process. 

First, we begin with the “why.” It’s critical for architecture and design teams to ask the right questions and listen to the answers before getting started.

One of the first things we do when starting a project is ask an owner, “Who are you, where are you going and why?” Most clients we work with already have a mission and vision, but a lot of the time they’re already thinking ahead to the practical, functional needs that they have to accomplish. And maybe somewhere in the periphery is the thought: We have a culture to preserve and a vision to advance, but we need this, this and this. In reality, those elements of mission, vision and values should be the building blocks that any project starts with.

The next question we ask in those early meetings is, “How will you define success for this project, or what do you want your staff to feel when they walk into this project?” If we dig, hopefully we get to discussions about improving culture or having a more sustainable space. Answers to these questions are driven by intangible qualities that tie to the mission, vision and culture-type elements. 

As we get further into the design process, we’ll start driving for the functional objectives of the space. It always helps to know as we define those elements — What’s the big idea? Is there a big, overarching, driving design idea that we need to accomplish with this project? Whether that be exterior aesthetics or the way people move through the building, the big idea can and should drive a lot of the design decisions through the project.

Stay tuned for our next conversation on the design process when we dig into the three essential parts of a project: Quality, cost and size. 

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