Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Projects by developers or by architects?

Arch. Marcel Wisznia. Photo by Tina Brown Sachs

I have been reading architect´s Marcel Wisznia´s interview for AIA, and the part that was most interesting for me was his opinion about the projects, if the architect should act as a developer or as a real architect. It bothers me to say that sometimes developers consider that money gives them the power of all decisions, but the architect´s mission, as Wsznia says, is to educate our clients, we know what is best for the project, though, of course we are open to suggestions and experiences. And this is true, that one gets tired of educating others, even at the smallest scale, some people do not realize that to change the house is to change their lives, their habitat and habits.
You don´t got to the doctor and tell him what he has to do, but regarding construction and design, most clients think they know everything.
From The American Institute of Architects, an excerpt from this interview:

AIArchitect: You started out as an architect, not a developer. What made you change?

Marcel Wisznia: Early in my father’s career, he was consistently asked by developers to provide schematic design services for a proposed project, but without compensation. The developer promised he would get the commission if and when the project moved forward.
My father quickly realized he was absorbing a good part of the developer’s risk, but without any upside. So, in the late 1950s, he began to develop medical office buildings, and in 1961 he designed and developed the first residential condominiums in Texas. My father and I merged our firms in the early 1980s, and continued to develop real estate together, primarily office buildings, until his death in 2004.
But in 2005, I changed our firm’s workload from 20 percent self-developed projects and 80 percent traditional third-party client commissions to the opposite. I had gotten tired of taking the time necessary to educate clients. I realized for a client to make good design decisions, an architect must spend a lot of time educating. In many cases, the enlightenment comes through an architect’s effort to show that a well-designed and cohesive solution will rent or sell for more than one that is solely bottom-line, numbers-driven.
Today, architects say I am lucky to “wear both hats”—that I can do whatever I want without having to sell our solution to the client. In fact, my firm faces the same difficult daily decisions required to turn any project from a dream to reality. The only difference is that we clearly see both the architect and the developer points of view, and blend the two in ways that add value to the solution.

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