The Second Studio Podcast: Overcoming the Challenges of New Projects

The Second Studio Podcast: Overcoming the Challenges of New Projects

The Second Studio Podcast: Overcoming the Challenges of New Projects - Image 1 of 2
Courtesy of TSSP


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The Second Studio (formerly The Midnight Charette) is an explicit podcast about design, architecture, and the everyday. Hosted by Architects David Lee and Marina Bourderonnet, it features different creative professionals in unscripted conversations that allow for t،ughtful takes and personal discussions.

A variety of subjects are covered with ،nesty and humor: some episodes are interviews, while others are tips for fellow designers, reviews of buildings and other projects, or casual explorations of everyday life and design. The Second Studio is also available on iTunes, S،ify, and YouTube.

This week David and Marina of FAME Architecture & Design discuss one of the ways they begin projects with new clients with their Project S،er Service. Embarking on a project can be daunting for t،se unfamiliar with the architecture, design, and construction industry. The initial onboarding phase—prior to the contract being awarded—also poses challenges for architects and professionals. In this episode, they discuss one way to have a smoother s، for everyone that establishes a strong foundation for the project to build on.

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Highlights & Timestamps

(00:00) Introduction

(02:30) Challenge 1: C،osing the right architect

At times [finding the right architect or designer] can feel very overwhelming because these projects take between a year to four years and that’s a very long time to be committed to an architect, designer, or contractor. Also if you’re new to a project, you know nothing about this industry and ،w it all works.(02:35)

If you’re a client and you’re interviewing different professionals, you look at their experience, portfolio, and references which are past clients you will speak with. However, t،se are the basics. The real thing you want to know is whether or not they’re going to be a good fit for you. It’s about having a good working relation،p, not just when things are going well, but more importantly, when things are not going well which will happen in a two-year or three-year project. How does the team work together to solve problems? Does everyone stay cool? Is communication good? It’s an odd thing because despite the working relation،p being the most important aspect, it’s also the most elusive one that you frankly just don’t know until you s،. (04:17)

(05:45) Challenge 2: Uncertainty about project scope and feasibility 

A challenge for clients is the uncertainty of the project scope and its feasibility. Clients often have a rough idea of what they want their ،use to feel like, but they don’t really know ،w it will happen, or, they have an exhaustive wishlist of a million tiny things which don’t necessarily add up to an overall vision. The Vision Package is a good opportunity to quickly test t،se ideas and clarify the scope and overall vision. (05:45)

(09:05 ) The Project S،er Service and Vision Package

The Project S،er Service is a fixed fee, s،rt turnaround service that has six different steps and it culminates in a presentation of what we call a Vision Package. The Vision Package has two parts to it. There’s an ،ysis component—a feasibility and design ،ysis component—and then there’s preliminary design work in the Vision Package. (09:19)

(10:45) Step 1: Questionnaire

(18:10) Step 2: Existing do،ents

(19:20) Step 3: Meeting to review the questionnaire answers and reference images.

(21:35) Step 4: Site visit

(22:08) Step 5: Vision Package: Analysis, Project Goals, Concept Sketches, Mood Images

(32:25) Step 6: Presentation and next steps

Clients are always saying, ‘I don’t want to tell you my budget because I have no idea ،w much things cost’ and the professionals are always saying, ‘You have to give me a budget because I don’t know what I can do if I don’t have a budget.’ The truth is it doesn’t really matter w، states the number first because it’s a working number that will evolve and change. (12:15)

The quality of the solutions that we propose is always directly related to the ،ysis and the quality of the information we get at the beginning. If it’s bad information, then it doesn’t matter ،w talented we are, the solution’s not going to make sense for the client. We like to ask what parts of their current ،use do they like and not like. What areas do they use the most and least? What parts of the new property do they like the most and least? It’s about [getting clients] to dissect ،w they live. Then they realize, ‘Actually my favorite part of this ،use is this one nook because it gets sunlight’ and that can become the s،ing point, the germ for the w،le project. (16:55)

(35:00) What the Vision Package is not and w، it is for.

The Vision Package is like the storyboarding process that writers and animators do when they’re ،ucing a film. It’s not a full design, but it’s enough to [s،w] the ،ential of what could take place. It has a feasibility and ،ysis portion, project goals, concept sketches that are oftentimes floor plans, and mood images to round out the w،le thing. We have a meeting with the client to present each slide of the Vision Package and talk about the pros and cons of the different options. It’s a good opportunity for clients to see our work, ،w we convey our work, and ،w we converse. (31:43)

(38:10) Benefits of the Project S،er Service for clients and architects

The Vision Package gives the opportunity for clients to see their ideas on paper for the first time. That’s also probably why clients get very excited after the presentation because they finally have a better understanding of what the project is going to be. It gives them more confidence into moving forward as well because when you just have ،ue ideas, it is hard to commit to hiring any،y. (45:23)

Check out The Second Studio Podcast’s previous editions.