RE: Hiring an Architect
From: Casey Morrigan (
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 12:01:01 -0700 (MST)
Robert, what I have learned is:

1.  The gap between the architect's design and the contractor's execution of
it yawns wide - it takes time and  ongoing negotiation between the two to
leap the chasm.  It's not a personal problem of either one that it's tough
to handle - it's built into the process of building; its a structural
issue - but you can make it a priority to find an architect who is skilled
and professional in managing that always-difficult relationship and set of
formal and informal negotiations.  Architects are not often trained in
construction and engineering and so a multitude of leaps of faith and value
judgments need to be made during the course of construction.

2.  Hiring an architect who lives in your community sets up a conflict of
interest that also takes a great deal of skill to balance.  The conflict is
this:  the architect may have a point of view regarding design that is
especially important to him or her because they are going to live there.
This point of view is likely to come into conflict with a group point of
view on design or construction issues. The architect then has to choose
between her role as a community member and her role as an architect.  Those
two roles can conflict.  Think also that the architect is in the position of
building what will essentially be a live-in showplace if clients come to see
it, and the stakes for holding out for aesthetics over consensus may get
higher.  This can make consensus decisions difficult, and in the "move-it,
move-it" atmosphere of construction and design, the community can be short
of time to resolve these issues.

3.  So when you hire an architect recall that you are hiring a human being
whose skills in both design and in negotiating construction issues will be
very important.

That's what I know!

Casey Morrigan
Two Acre Wood
Sebastopol, California

-----Original Message-----
From: cohousing-l-admin [at]
[mailto:cohousing-l-admin [at]]On Behalf Of Robert Arjet
Sent: Thursday, October 31, 2002 9:24 AM
To: cohousing-l [at]
Subject: [C-L]_Hiring an Architect

Hello folks:

Please excuse me if I'm asking an old question, but I don't seem to be able
to turn up what I'm after in the Cohousing-L archives.

We (Central Austin Cohousing in TX) are in the process of hiring an
architect for site design, and possibly other phases of the design
process.  I've read the section dealing with hiring professionals in "The
Cohousing Handbook," and now I was wondering if any cohousers out there who
was involved in hiring an architect could share what you've learned.  Are
there suggestions you would make for how to go about the process?  Pitfalls
to avoid?  What about hiring an architect from within the group?  Any
feedback would be appreciated.


Robert Arjet
Central Austin Cohousing

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