AIA: Design/Build Eases Client Stress

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A firm that handles both design and construction can make life easier for its clients.

September 01, 2002

The Client Experience, a new study from the American Institute of Architects, reinforces what many remodelers have known for a long time: A firm that handles both design and construction can make life easier for its clients. In the words of the report, “The single point of accountability offered by the design/build model is attractive to clients seeking simplicity.” The study also identifies key findings in its analysis of data collected across markets and organizational levels:

  • Master communicators build relationships, and those relationships built on strong communication rule the project process.

  • There is a perception gap between architects and clients about the architect’s role in the process. Clients see the architect as a designer, while good architects consider themselves responsible for helping clients figure out what they need and want, and incorporate those needs and wants in the design.

  • Change is a constant in all projects. Change of some kind creates the need for the project in the first place, but it also creates stress. A design/build approach is one way to smooth the process.

  • The participation of project “stakeholders” is critical to success. The ultimate occupants of the building are excluded from several stages of the project process, but architects can fill the role of liaison with the end users.

    The complete report is available from the AIA (

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