How can you be sure that they’re really the one? That their values are the same as yours. That they’re a good listener. And that they really understand what’s going to make you happy. After all, it’s a decision you’ll have to live with for years.
If this litmus test for choosing an architect sounds similar to selecting a significant other, it’s not surprising. “If you’re looking at working on a long-term project, it’s a big investment, so you want to make sure you have a good relationship,” Stephen Verner counsels. “It’s a long commitment and you really get into the nitty-gritty.”
Malika Junaid acknowledges that closeness is a necessity: “We really get to understand our clients, sometimes even more than their own families, because we have to understand their lifestyle in order to design what will work for them.”
Jerome Buttrick agrees that chemistry is critical. “You’re ask the architects words by SHERI BAER going to be working with this person for a number of years, so you should get to see them and know them in as many ways as you can,” he suggests.
In the end, how do you know if it’s right? “It’s definitely a vibe thing,” is how architect Noel Cross summarizes it.
This is also the kind of thing you can only learn by asking the architects. And that’s the point of the 5th Annual AIA Silicon Valley Home Tours on May 4, showcasing projects ranging from 3,000 to 10,000 square feet. The math is simple. Four homes from Palo Alto to Los Altos plus four architects equals an opportunity to get educated on the latest design solutions and gain insights into what makes a healthy (client/architect) relationship.
We took a sneak peek at the homes and jumped in early with questions for a deeper dive,
Malika Junaid had a unique understanding of her client’s needs. That’s because the client was her own family and Malika and her engineer husband shared a vision for transforming a secluded Los Altos Hills plot of land into their dream home. The design objective: to merge cutting-edge technology with a seamless indoor-outdoor living experience, using strategies spanning the ultimate in smart home automation, innovative sustainability and open planning. Malika viewed her home’s construction as a test run—not just for the Junaid family, but for all of her clients. She emphasized sustainable finishes (even Sharpie pen-proof countertops) and engineered novelties like a retractable kitchen tool/spice rack (using a TV lift) and tucked-away appliances revealed with the press of a button. The biggest jaw-dropper? Adapting an aircraft hangar door to turn an indoor pool into an out- door recreational space. While the Junaid residence may seem like the stuff of science fiction, Malika estimates that 80% of her home’s approaches can be scaled and applied to client projects.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN BY BEING YOUR OWN CLIENT?
“Going through something like this helps you relate to the people on the other side, and what they’re going through. At the end of the day, it’s their passion, it’s their lifestyle, it’s their families and it’s their money and you need to be very sensitive about how you’re spending it and how you’re advocating for them. Construction is not easy. There’s a lot of stress in it. Keep in mind, a ask the architects specific project is being done specifically for a client and might not necessarily be your style. What you’re looking at is whether they actually solved the problem that they were asked to solve? Did they cater to what their clients wanted? All of us on the tour are like a library of information.”