When selecting an architect firm for your building project, the candidate firm’s experience with your type of building project should be a very important consideration. Although it may be tempting to choose new or bold ideas over experience, the risks you face can include costly changes during and after the construction process. Complex new building projects or renovations that require adherence to multiple codes and regulations and projects that must accommodate ongoing occupancy during construction demand a familiarity with those requirements and needs in order to bring off a successful project with minimal changes, disruption, and delays.
A candidate firm’s recent track record with projects of the same or similar type and size should also be considered and verified. Some firms specialize in master plan studies, while other firms’ experience covers the life of a project from preliminary studies and design through construction documents, bidding, and construction administration. For projects that are subject to explicit bidding requirements, the firm’s experience with construction documents and construction administration in the same area can be invaluable.
If you are looking for new ideas that you do not see in the work of the experienced candidate firms, then you may find a good balance in a design team that includes both an innovator firm and a firm that offers more experience in your building type and size. Even then, it may be beneficial to ensure that the roles of the firms are balanced so as not to downgrade the influence of the firm that has more experience in your project type. It may also be beneficial to remember that early design decisions can have a tremendous influence on the ultimate outcomes of a building project, including constructability, cost, and building performance after construction.