Howard Roark, the architect/protagonist in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, famously says, “I have clients to practice architecture. I don’t practice architecture to have clients.” The implication is that for many architects, having clients is a means to their own ends. We invest many years in training and apprenticeship. We take a grueling series of exams. Stir in utopian tendencies and strong imaginations and you have a profession that is very sure that it knows best when it comes to designing and constructing buildings.
The characterization of architects as aloof and arrogant is, unfortunately, well-earned. A congruous proclivity is perpetually invoke how erudite we are. We like to show people how smart we are. Too often we approach a client with the attitude of, “You’re doing it all wrong. Here, let me show you how you should do it.” Rather than be helpful, we hector.
Don’t get me wrong, you want your architect to be knowledgeable, experienced and talented. But an architect’s true value to you is their ability to lend those collective resources to your mission — to take on your agenda as if it’s their own. The right architect for you is the one you believe “gets you,” who serves up that knowledge experience and talent in a way that is consistent with the culture of your organization.
If someone “proves” that they know more than you, you might respect them, but not trust them. I want Blue Ridge Architects to be respected, but more importantly I want us to be group of people you can trust.