February 3, 2022

Questions to Consider Asking an Architecture Firm

Questions to Consider Asking an Architecture Firm

Posted by CMBA Architects on May 11, 2021 8:00:02 AM

When planning your K12 project, selecting an architect is an important decision. Most people interview two or three architects before making a choice. We are all familiar with the basic questions to ask, such as references and portfolio examples, but sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know! In order to help you dig a little deeper, we’re here to give you an insider’s perspective on important questions to ask when hiring an architect…

Q: What do you do to stay informed about current trends in K12 design?

Any skilled architect brings a solid grounding in the principles and methods of design, but there is a great deal of nuance to the ways in which a learning environment can help or hinder the pedagogical goals of educators.

While ideas and trends in education are constantly evolving and changing, there is important and meaningful research underpinning those developments. Understanding trends within this context helps architects make intelligent choices as to where to advocate for something truly innovative and where to resist simply because it's a novel idea.

Q: When was the last time you were in a learning environment?

Teaching is an active pursuit and nothing helps one understand it like doing it. If your architect is familiar with both sides of the equation – teaching AND learning – they will bring a level of insight that may be missing from someone who hasn’t seen the inside of a classroom or engaged with a student since they themselves were in school.

Q: Could you describe your roles and responsibilities with respect to helping shape the vision for our project?

It is critical that you and your architect share the same expectations of what they will actually be doing. Few things are more frustrating than feeling like your time is being wasted, or like you aren't being listened to. The best way to avoid that feeling is to be clear about expectations up front. Set the tone from the very beginning by asking for a description of what the architect’s assumptions are and then working from there to align them with yours.

Q: How do you see your role in terms of bringing different educational ideas and strategies?

While the primary responsibility of the design team is to create a project that meets your needs and addresses your concerns, they also bring a wealth of experience to the table. They probably shouldn’t advocate for a new or different pedagogical strategy from the one you employ, but they can expand the conversation by suggesting alternative or complementary strategies that you may not be aware of or have not seen. It is useful to understand the extent to which your architect will be able to enrich the conversation and expand the boundaries of a design, particularly given that most projects are both rare and expensive, with enormous consequences as well as enormous opportunities for wonder and satisfaction.

It’s important to pick an architect you trust. You should feel confident that he or she understands your goals and aspirations—they need to get you. Once you’ve selected an architect, your team can begin the design process.

Topics: K12-WOYM