From the Publisher

Jan. 18, 2006
A Better Conversation

What can give an architect the edge over the competition when courting a client? At a summit in November, architects from some of the country’s most successful commercial design firms said that knowledge of the latest leading-edge building systems technology can make all the difference.

In fact, being technology-current seems to be a minimum requirement for doing business today. “Nothing is more embarrassing than meeting with a prospective client who knows more about building technology than you do,” said a notable architect from one of the country’s big three firms.

I don’t think anyone at this summit was suggesting that innovative design, creative material application, and other traditional factors are not important. But the point is appreciable that the bar keeps being raised for smarter, greener, more intelligent commercial buildings. A key to bringing the latest and best to the client’s table is an understanding of the latest technology.

At first glance it would seem that it would be easy for an architect to stay technology-current. Manufacturers’ reps offer to lunch-and-learn influential architects every day. But a lament by several architects at the summit was the level of conversation with manufacturers’ reps. Too often, I hear from influential architects that the conversation with manufacturers is one intended to sell. “All PowerPoint presentations blur together after awhile,” said one.

The conversation many architects want is one that educates. “I would get more out of 30 minutes with their R&D guy at a coffee shop than dinner at Morton’s with the account rep,” he added.

Without a doubt, leading-edge building systems technology is the fuel that is currently driving successful commercial building projects. It’s also a given that architects and progressive manufacturers are co-dependents in bringing that technology to commercial building design. The edge that architects need may well lay in a higher level of conversation with their manufacturer partners.

Jim Forthofer

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