Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I once worked for an architect that tortured his clients.

Not in the physical sense, of course, he used subtle methods, like pitting them against their own builders, changing his designs on the fly and in the last minutes of construction, specifying materials unnecessarily expensive and hard-to-maintain and by not turning up at pre-arranged meetings.
He charged them exuberant fees and his projects were always late, the delays measured in years, he mocked them publicly and kept an unlocked-backdoor to his office to sneak out when they turned up unexpectedly.

And they kept coming back to him.
These clients, or if not them personally, their family, friends, competitors, enemies.
He was the darling of the industry, come to think of it, he still is.
He taught me one of the most valuable work-related lessons in life:
‘The building is not important, people love getting a bargain’.

His clients, sitting at the well-off end of the range, valued their bargains a bit differently than, say little-kitchen-renovation-clients would, or school-client boards-of-trustees.
For them the bargain was the ‘national award’ the building was likely-to win, the invitation to the architectural institute’s dinner, being considered an ‘enlightened architectural client’, the envy of the neighbours, the prestige.

I since learned that this ‘pursuit for the bargain’ is absolutely universal, yet strategically so often ignored by key building-project participants.
If you think BIM has nothing to do with this, think again!