Taking Off…part 2 of 2

In my previous posts I explored a gap that I perceive exists between wanting ones own architecture and getting it. I left with the question of what else needs to be done. Here I will offer some steps related to closing that gap.

For starters, consider the following two important points:

  • On the one hand, there’s creating a strong desire for ones own personal architecture, desire powerful enough to sustain the considerable effort needed to follow through with getting it.
  • On the other, there’s having a plan for acquiring it.

Create a desire powerful enough to sustain the considerable effort needed to accomplish what’s being sought. 

Where does that strong desire come from? What gives rise to it?

No easy answers there. The seeds of desire are either there or not. If they are, they will need feeding and proper care if something is ever to germinate. But, whatever it is, a want must first be identified if it is ever to ultimately be passionately desired.

Wanting something badly is uniquely personal in the way it’s dealt with. But generally speaking certain methods of bringing wants to life succeed more than others:

  • focus intently on what it is you want; research it
  • think it through and through from every angle
  • visualize it – make it real in your mind; talk about it
  • experience it through something similar and closely related
  • and, yes, laying in bed, fantasize what it might look and feel like.

In short, by immersing yourself in the imagined version of your ideal environment – your personal architecture, while adhering to a plan of action, you will facilitate its eventual entry into this world. Remember, it will be your vision coupled with your passion that ultimately propels your project into existence. Treat yourself as someone who is worth it.

As you move closer to your destination, the more you will come to experiencing the pleasure of seeing the project grow, first through the design stage, followed by its actual construction, and ultimately arriving at the destination of so many dreams and so much effort.

As witness to its arrival, excitement growing, you’ll find yourself perhaps feeling more alive. Yes, there will be plenty of counterbalancing moments of frustration and desire to call it quits. But chances are, the growing excitement over seeing your dream come to life will be sufficient to move you beyond.

Have a plan that will get you where you want to go.

With the help of others, if need be, develop a well thought out plan, but one that doesn’t straightjacket your efforts by being too rigid. Keep your eye on your original purpose for taking on this project.

Since it will be a long journey requiring many complex decisions made along the way by you and your team – your architect, his consultants, and your contractor, planning for every single contingency is not possible and most likely would be counter-productive.

It can be difficult, but its important to make an effort to adopt a relaxed attitude. Otherwise the risk grows that the inevitable tensions that come with a building project begin to feed off each other with damaging results – in much the same way that small vibrations in a bridge can sympathetically mount, bringing about the bridge’s eventual collapse. Remember that the project is ultimately for your benefit, not your bad health.

When developing your plan’s feasibility be sure also to keep it flexible enough to allow for the creative effort by all involved. Prevent, whenever possible, cost concerns, as important as those are, from squeezing out the best possible results for your money.

Find an architect that you think/feel you can work with over the duration of the project, someone you sense will be respectful of your needs, wants, and requirements. If you are serious about achieving the best possible outcome for your project, you will need to work closely with him or her.

Creative efforts often traverse tricky territory in a client-architect relationship. Try and allow for that. You will want to have a creative rapport with the one pulling a rabbit out of the hat. That means an architect with whom you’re comfortable talking to about about the things most important to you. You want to be heard and they need to know what you want.

The architect also needs to be someone unafraid to offer you suggestions that may seem foreign, knowing that you may take offense at being challenged. While your gut reaction may be to doubt this particular piece of advice, try nevertheless to allow for it. Of course you don’t need to obediently agree with their suggestions, but you’ll ultimately be the beneficiary by allowing them to be made.

There will be times when you see or are shown something that wasn’t originally planned. Architects who are worth their fees need to discover the boundaries of the project’s aesthetic envelope. In spite of the best intentions otherwise, this may result in occasional tension. Allow yourself permission when things get bumpy to back off if needed. Do what you need to occasionally recharge. Again, successful projects require willing cooperation between all involved in its delivery.

It’s important that a serious effort is made by all involved in the creation and delivery of your project to work together as a team. Since coordination among the various players is essential to the success of the project, financially, practically, and aesthetically, it’s vitally important that coordination responsibilities lie with one person.

Ideally, you will need to adopt a mindset of encouragement for taking creative leaps. While commitment to staying within budget must be made by all involved (this will be difficult at times, especially for you when the cold hard facts of costs don’t support getting something you just know you must have), it can also be at times counterproductive.

Contrary to what your inner fiscal guardian may be screaming in your ear, you will benefit most in the long run by allowing plenty of wiggle room for creativity. Don’t be subservient to it, but do respect its potential rewards.

In your dedicated efforts at being fiscally responsible, allow yourself room to see the bigger picture, as hard as that may be for you to accept. Allow yourself time to weigh the merits of budget-challenging proposals before nipping them prematurely in the bud. The flower that was never allowed to bloom might have been yours. 

Coordinating all the many channels of input is not a position of carte blanche power, but rather one requiring the ability to see the project as an integrated whole. The architect is the only one with the training and experience to fill that role.

Nevertheless, being in a position dependent on the quality of the input from the other players places the burden of responsibility on the architect, as a decision maker, to keep things moving in the right direction. The architect is the one most likely to fully grasp the project’s full scope and potential and keep it on track.

Contrary to popular imagery of their aloofness, contrariness, and disregard for the owner’s budget, the architect is, in fact, the one most qualified to fill that position. Architects know how to visualize a completed project better than most and have the ability to provide a road map for actualizing that vision in the form of construction documents.

Having said that, the architect is also driven to keep his or her creative efforts respectful of your budget. This shifts some of the burden back on you the owner to know as best you can how much you can and want to pay for realizing your dream.

The specific steps needing to be taken to to realize your project, the various stages along the way needing to be navigated, are the subject of another post, but can be found in many places such as in AIA guides.

For my purposes here, I’m ready to conclude, but with this final offering: Getting started may be your hardest move, but when you’ve done it, when you’re finally ready, then set sail – you’re the captain, after all, of your ship; you set its course.

Yes, it’s not all smooth sailing, it’s occasionally scary, but you’re not alone; your carefully chosen team is there to help you with the navigation. The rewards for leaving port can be enormous; the voyage exciting. Remember: the destination – your own architecture – is amazing.

Related Posts:

Investing in Architecture   Fees…Taking the Plunge (or not)   Considerations   Wanting More   Designing Your Ideal Home…Part 1   Part 2   Raise the Bar   Shelter: A Choice   Risk Taking   Missing…But Not Lost   Space

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2 thoughts on “Taking Off…part 2 of 2

  1. Beautifully written posts. When I built my house a few years ago and sat down with my architect for the first time, I was fascinated with the process. Finding the words and images to explain the vision of my future home (not only what it would be visually, but what I wanted it to mean for me, what the spaces needed to be for me). And then learning to listen as he was able to translate those images and needs into a practical and livable space and to be flexible to allow for his own creativity. It was an incredible learning experience for me and, the best part, I have a lovely home!

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