The Value of Design

Architects, we’re a means to an end. What kind of end do you want? In a 30-year career, I have never provided a client a building. I have, however, provided the design and service to help many clients achieve their goal for new facilities.

There are two parts to that equation, “design” and “service.” Let’s start with design. Let’s face it, our Midwestern values don’t typically center around

Avant-garde aesthetic statements at any cost. Our clients value good design at reasonable construction costs.

Recently, I was at the Grand Island Chamber dinner where one of our clients, Grand Island Public Schools (GIPS), received the Outlier award for their Career Pathways Institute (CPI). It was clear that this educational program and facility had energized students, the school district and the community; in fact, it has received regional and national attention.

Good design does not need to compromise Midwestern values, for functionality, value and stewardship. Good design can make a very big difference in the future of your organization.

Sometimes I imagine it would be easy to win awards if we lived on the coasts. It seems winning awards, at times, can outweigh functionality or stewardship. Designing great buildings that work, look great and don’t break the bank should be the goal of all architects. Isn’t that the true definition of creativity?

The value of good design? It can inspire a student, energize a community, provide a healthy environment for a patient, make a statement for a business, or inspire an atmosphere of worship.

The second part of the equation is service. I was at an Architect’s convention once and was in an informal conversation that included a “star-chitect” – one of those regularly published for winning awards for buildings that were obscenely expensive, and by all appearances were uninhabitable. Someone asked him how he consistently won so many awards. His answer, sadly, “I get to the point with every client that they are just about ready to fire me and then I pull back.” Clearly his goal was to design the statement he wanted to make, not the building his client wanted or needed.

You won’t have that experience at CMBA. In addition to great designs, we like to build great friendships. We value good design and firmly believe it can make a tremendous difference for your organization. We won’t, however, lose sight of whose building it is.