The Gaines Group

The biggest competition in the architectural profession is “no design.”

The architectural industry is an interesting one (and the only one I really know, so probably not unlike any others) in that as architects we compete for a very small pool of projects against each other, but we all rely on each other to promote the industry as a whole. The biggest competition for an architect is “no design” and boy does that happen a lot! Many don’t know what we (architects) do, don’t understand our value, or simply think they cannot afford to hire an architect.

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I spend a lot of time promoting the idea of design. I know it brings me opportunities, because my clients have told me they want good design. I know it benefits our industry because it brings awareness to the idea of design and therefore it helps other architects. It is important to me that everyone understand the value added to having good design for the built environment as it impacts our community, our daily life, and our future. Here are some folks in our industry that are doing way more than I could ever do and having a tremendous impact on our world.

Studio MM promotes good design by promoting other architects. Marica posts a different architect’s work on her social media pages every week showing off design that she loves that is done by others. This is an incredibly generous gift to give that other architect, but also a wonderful way to share her love of design with her potential clients.

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I am forever grateful to Cherise Schacter for her constant and overwhelming support of our industry on social media. Cherise is an incredible person / professional / Kraken that tirelessly promotes excellence in the design industry. I am not sure how she manages to keep up with all of the relationships she has built on SM and in person, but she does it with passion. Her work to promote the design industry is helping us all.

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Joshua Lloyd works hard to teach others about sustainable residential design. This is a huge help to those of us focused on green design. First his work helps me know better the right solutions for my clients and second he is promoting a similar message so potential clients hear it from multiple sources. I have heard from many other design firms that don’t believe SM is important for our industry, I think Joshua is showing that it is very important.

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Bob Borson created a series that is geared to show what we do as architects. The #ArchiTalks series includes some of the best architectural thinkers of our time! I know I have learned from these posts and it is certainly promoting our industry in a positive manner. Bob specifically brings the profession down to a human scale by showing the life of an architect from Christmas lists, to moving into a new office, to helping the next generation understand the industry.His approach to outreach is informal, fun, and inviting. This is how you promote an industry in a positive manner.
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Design Matters – New construction vs custom construction

Design matters. If you are building a new home, proper planning and design will provide you with the most energy-efficient, durable, and healthy home. There are many things that are done in new home construction that are considered standard, that might or might not be healthy, durable, or energy efficient. The design phase is a chance to set the performance standards for your builder to incorporate into your new home (and the price of your new home). Without an architect, you have to rely on the builder to set the design standards for you.

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Design matters. Setting the performance standards, designing the spaces that work for you, selecting the right products for your design are key decisions that should be done  prior to getting a price for the construction. We frequently work hand in hand with a builder to make sure we keep the budget in check while in process with the design. Decisions can be made as a team, which will provide the best solution to you at the best value.

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Architecture cannot exist without function and beauty. DESIGN MATTERS.

Architecture is an interesting profession. You begin to notice things in your community that others overlook. You see inefficiencies that others simply accept as status-quo. The joy in our profession for me exists in the ability to design solutions, solve other people’s problems, and help them achieve their dreams. The downside is that everyone has an opinion about what you have done, what you should have done, and how they would do it better.

I sponsored the Harrisonburg Parklet Project with a strong desire to start a conversation about the importance of design in this community. In an agricultural community that was born out of people who are known for getting things done, no frills, and hard work, Architecture is often not a primary focus. This is not to say there are not beautiful design solutions in our community, but there are not many that marry both function and beauty. During the Harrisonburg Parklet Project there was a very obvious focus on beauty in some designs and function in other spaces. Those that wanted to design a beautiful space but did not invite people in became museum pieces that were hard to inhabit:

There were also those that focused on the function of the space and left the beauty to the work of the artists doing face painting.

There does not have to be a break between the two ideas. Beauty and function can coexist and should be in all projects for the betterment of the community. While the Parklets were all extremely successful and fun, I think these small installations are very much an indication of the larger community. We have accepted the idea that some buildings are just places that serve a function and have forgotten the importance of beauty, while others are focused on beauty and lack functional necessity to continue to be relevant. We as a community need and deserve more. We should all ask for a higher standard for our public and private buildings. Architecture cannot exist without function and beauty. DESIGN MATTERS. 

Harrisonburg Parklet Project – In Pictures

First step, find the best spaces

Next Advertise the event on social media and place community posters

Spaces reserved 24 hours in advance

Construction of the spaces

Parklets begin to take shape

Spaces open to the public

An incredible event with lots of foot traffic, conversations, and questions!

A Home Specific for you – Design Matters

No matter what your goals, you can design a house around the way you live and for your site. This home has a jacuzzi on the roof to take advantage of the views and the way this client lived. While a house this specific to one person may have an issue with resale, if you are designing your dream home, why would you design it for someone else?

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For more thoughts on saving money, protecting the environment, and on architectural design visit my websites:

www.facebook.com/virginiaarchitect

www.twitter.com/thegainesgroup

www.thegainesgroup.com