StudioVIEWS: When Architects and Developers Work Together
Drew White– FAIA, LEED AP, StudioAXIS Partner
Great projects happen. But, let’s back up and walk through the imperative how and why it takes a multi-discipline approach to deliver projects that inspire, impact, and influence the cities and communities they reside.
When you see a construction site, you are seeing months and many times years of ideation, concept and planning coming to life. The planning is never singular, but a collective collaboration of crucial players: architects and property developers. The professional roles are different, yet dynamic, and that’s why working together makes great projects happen. So what’s the secret sauce, the magic in a successful architect-developer relationship? Pull up a chair, get comfortable, and let’s talk about it.
Architects Make a Big Idea, More Than an Idea.
We all remember a place or space “before” it was transformed. Maybe it was unkempt, unsafe, unappealing or under utilized? That is where timeless design and development makes our cities and communities better. With an idea/vision, places get a chance to be re-imagined. As architects, we come to the table to help developers turn their vision into form. As the creative minds behind the design and conceptualization of buildings and structures our primary focus is to blend aesthetics, functionality and sustainability to craft spaces that resonate with human experience. Architects possess a deep understanding of design principles, materials, construction techniques and spatial dynamics. We prioritize the harmony between form and function, delivering tangible drawings and plans that make a working idea a working project.
Architects Understand Market Value and How Cities Work
Cities are complex structures with complex stakeholders. One new or refurbished building can jumpstart a city’s comeback or growth, impacting market value. Architects provide an invaluable understanding of environmental context. We invest in researching and planning to ensure the building’s exterior structure and design elements compliment its surroundings today and for years to come. Successful projects with developers are rooted in planning that consists of meeting and listening to stakeholders and community members. This collaboration helps to define project goals and deliver detailed drawings that ignite excitement and support of new projects in the earliest of phases.
Architects Design for Safety and Sustainability
Beyond aesthetics, architects are responsible for ensuring the safety and compliance of their designs with local building codes and regulations. We thoughtfully consider factors like structural integrity, accessibility, energy efficiency and environmental impact. Frankly, these factors are more important than ever before, and as architects, we work diligently to help contractors and engineers execute this to meet the vision of the project and its future use and function. Applying LEED certified applications and products throughout the design build process positively impacts the building’s footprint, and is ultimately better for the community.
Property Developers Bridge Creativity and Profitability
Property developers play an integral role in how our communities look and function. They invest in cities with projects that change their trajectory and the market. Their role revolves around identifying real estate opportunities, securing funding, managing budgets, and overseeing the entire development process. Architects focus on the creativity and design attributes of the project, while property developers are responsible for delivering a profitable investment to their stakeholders.
Developer due-diligence focuses on market research to identify demand and potential profitability. They evaluate factors such as location, market trends, and target demographics to determine the feasibility of a project. When a promising opportunity is identified, developers secure financing through various means, including loans, partnerships and equity investments.
In addition to carrying the financial weight of the project, property developers establish the overall communication and management of the multidisciplinary team. With a multitude of moving parts, successful projects are always rooted in strong communication, collaboration and respect for the knowledge and perspective all contributors bring to the forefront.
Collaboration and Symbiosis
Better together. Our greatest achievements on any level are done with others. As an architect, I’ll always challenge my colleagues and collaborators because that’s what ensures we do the best work. Yes, architects and property developers have distinct roles, but our collaboration is integral to successful construction projects. We bring creativity and innovation into designs because we want people in their communities to feel and experience the impact that great design has on our lives. It enhances the marketability and appeal of a development. In turn, our developer colleagues bring these creative visions to life while ensuring profitability and financial viability.
When architects and developers work together, great projects happen. To get there it takes open communication and mutual respect. It is always possible to align design aspirations with budget constraints. Understanding the differences and synergies between our roles drives the impact of urban development and shapes the spaces and places we enjoy and inhabit.
About Drew White, FAIA, LEED AP | StudioAXIS Partner
Complex urban assignments have benefited from Drew’s ability to work with a variety of interests. His interactive approach to working with communities benefits from both hands-on learning by clients and his motivational style. Drew focuses public discussion on issues critical to success. His ability to do this with colleagues is evident in his leadership and service within the AIA and growing a dynamic and successful national practice. Drew has helped increase the Midwest region’s “design awareness.” In his role as president of both AIA Indiana and AIA Indianapolis, he elevated the public discourse about design. Increasingly, Drew shares his experience through lectures and writing. He is a leading contributor to the national reputation of the AIA as an advocate and voice for sustainable design and social responsibility.
STUDIOAXIS is a U.S., Thailand and India based group of architects, designers, urbanists, interior designers, and researchers. Founded in 1995 in Indianapolis, Indiana USA, its core purpose is to elevate design through collaboration and innovation. STUDIOAXIS work has been recognized with the profession’s top accolades earning international recognition from distinguished institutions nationally and internationally winning over 130+ design awards across the globe.