The Difference Between Hiring and Engaging an Architect

And Why it Shows in the Results

Good architecture is often easier to sense than to define. What exactly makes an architect’s work good? A long list of awards? A trend-setting or signature style? Or perhaps specializing in a certain building type, like sports arenas, with laser focus?

We think differently at Selser Schaefer Architects. In a word, good architecture comes down to engagement — on our part and that of our clients.

We’re passionate about architecture. To a person, we are enamored with what we do. But we can’t do it by ourselves. We can design a building, but we can’t give it a soul without knowing its true purpose. This is where complete engagement with the client comes in.

Engagement takes us beyond a building’s program — the necessary roadmap of client requirements — to the building’s parti. The parti is the building’s story, its reason to be, the armature to which the entire design is attached.

A strong parti gives us answers all along the design path, answers like architectural vocabulary, colors, proportions…virtually everything. And in the end, it gives the client something that’s all them.

A parti can’t happen without an engaged client, because it must come from their vision. We can’t make it up. And because we can’t make it up, we do not have a particular architectural style. We have architectural authenticity.

If you find yourself in the fortunate opportunity to select an architect for your vision, remember: don’t just select or hire an architect. Engage an architect — and then be willing to engage with them on a level you never thought possible.