Re: Design Process/architects
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 94 15:56 CST
RE: the recent interchange about architects, I'd like to add a little
correction to  the Monterey (Mococo) experience:

In message Fri, 11 Nov 94 11:49 CST,
  "School of Mathematics, U of MN" <dept [at]>  writes:
> Monterey CoHousing-Mpls is at a similar stage and I too am worried about
> the cost of our architect.  Especially the benefit/cost ratio.
> Personally, I doubt he is worth the money we have already paid him, and
> we're not  done yet with final drawings.  We were lucky in having a
> member with a  background in architecture (a former student) and she sat
> down with the  various households to come up with a design to suit their
> needs.  It would  have cost a heap to pay the architect for that.
> Anybody like that in your  group?
> Monika Stumpf, Monterey CoHousing-Mpls, dept [at]

And shedrick coleman <shedarch [at]> 
W. Shedrick Coleman, AIA                |
Architect                               |
Facilities Planning & Space Utilization |
Georgia Southern University             |
Statesboro, Georgia                     |
It appears that in each case mentioned, either of two things have happened:
1. You did not have a clear program outlined stating your needs and overall
2. You picked the wrong architect.

It is vital that prior to selecting a architect, that any group sit down and
arrive at what the expectations are.  By doing this, you can arrive at some
measurable criteria to gauge prospective architects.  Also, the architect
will know just what you expect from him/her through the process.  If you
Don't make your intentions clear, you are setting yourselves up for
dissappointment.  Your architect should share your excitement for the
project and be willing to honestly listen to your needs.

To think that the experience and knowledge a good architect can provide can
be provided by someone who has taken architectural studies is misguided.
All architects are not equal in the services they provide or their level of
commitment.  I'd like to see the profession that can offer such individuals.
The state of construction costs are not caused by architects, but I'll
guarantee that if you have drawings prepared by an inexperienced party,
your contractor shall eat you alive in additional fees.
shedarch [at]            |

The person in the group who did the unit designs is a professional architect,
not now practising.   I know we would not have employed a student, tho I also
know there are some in the group who have not been impressed with some
architects and think they could do better themselves.  I disagree.

The one thing we certainly learned to our distress was that we should have been
clear on who was to do the work when we hired the architect.  We *were* told
that someone else would be the main person on our project (I forget the phrase)
but it was after the decision was made as to who to work with.  And the person
we worked with after the 1st was replaced was much much better to work with. 

On the occasions that the principals of the firm have worked with us, they have
indeed been very helpful.  I'm not sure how it happened in our case (once the
milk is spilt it doesn't help a lot to go back) but I wish we had at least
discussed how and when the principals would be involved.  They were noticeably
absent for too much, present at the beginning and the end.  I'm not sure it was
an option, however, to have them do most of the work  (we are now talking site
plan, by the way).  

I also think process of selecting an architect is complex.  

Judy Baxter, Monterey Cohousing Community, (MoCoCo)
Twin Cities Area, Minneapolis/St.Paul Minnesota
e-mail: baxter [at]
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