Matt McMullen

Matt McMullen

Last updated: August 14, 2020  •  3 min read

7 Traits of a Successful Architect

When it comes to attracting repeat business from clients, there are many traits that a successful architect will possess.

Having worked in the industry for over 34 years, here is a list of 7 impactful habits that I believe are worth considering adding to your own portfolio.

1. Leave space for people to amaze, surprise and delight you!

As architects, we like to think that we get the big picture for the project, given our years of professional training and ongoing continuing education. However, leave room for your clients, consultants, project users and members of your own architectural team to provide fresh ideas and input. Some of the best ideas come from folks who haven’t been boxed in by regulations and code-heavy thinking.

2. Engage your client

Don’t be afraid to step outside of the traditional professional relationship with your client. Enable them to be passionate about their project and their requirements. If it’s a residential project, it becomes their home or their tenant’s home. If it’s a commercial project, it becomes their home away from home. The reality is that the average worker spends more time with their ‘work family’ than their own family.

3. Develop a trusted team of consultants and craftspeople

Treat your consultants, general contractors and subcontractors with respect. Their goal is to create a magical project that aligns with your goals as the designer. Like a championship team on the playing field, a finely honed project team in the office and in the field can create a structure that brings a magical experience to all that inhabit it.

4. Coach and mentor all team players

From the time of project inception through post-occupancy, use any opportunity to provide coaching for your team as well as mentorship for your younger team members. Be sure to ask permission first from the other party before launching into coaching. Architects are trained to be problem solvers, and the most successful ones know the right questions to ask in order to provide a solution to the correct problem. Mentoring opportunities will often present themselves from mentee to mentor by request.

5. Document your project site before, during and after construction

A range of technological advances have taken place that allow the Architect to gather significantly more data from the Project Site and its surroundings. Two new methods take the form of aerial drone footage and LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). These collection technologies allow data to be captured and used by BIM (Building Information Modeling) to create a realistic 3D model of your site, project and surroundings to provide context. Matterport, Leica and other manufacturers allow you to capture the project as it’s being constructed to document the various stages of construction before they’re covered.

6. Understand your kit of parts

Building technology and delivery methods are changing in order to respond to construction market timing, supply chains and lack of skilled construction labor. Whether you use site-built or off-site built (modular and panelization) construction methods, become familiar with the limitations and more importantly, the opportunities they provide for cutting edge design.

7. Create reality with a clear distinct future

Now that you have your client’s attention and passion, along with a strongly motivated project team, supported by data and a building system to support your cutting-edge design, provide a clear 3D vision of what you’re proposing.

Enscape is an incredibly user-friendly software with a low bar for entry in both price and training. And since Enscape works directly within your CAD, A BIM model can be quickly rendered in real time, either in motion or as still shots for presentation, or online or print media. Clients can tour their project, interior, and exterior, with minimal coaching, to experience the project however they see themselves using it.

May these 7 easy-to-implement traits prove beneficial to both you and your practice. What other habits do you think are important for architects to adopt? Please share on social and add your thoughts!

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Matt McMullen
Matt McMullen

Matt has 34 years of experience in the design, real estate, and construction fields. Matt is a licensed Architect in Colorado, California, and Texas, a licensed Real Estate Broker Associate in Colorado, and holds AIA, LEED-AP: BD+C and NCARB professional designations. Connect with Matt on LinkedIn.