As you begin your commercial design project—whether it be a new restaurant design, a retail shopping center strip, a remodel of an existing business, or a hotel or office tower—one of the most important first steps is choosing the right commercial architect. Making a bad choice here could mean ending way over budget with a design you don’t love.
As a premiere architect in the metro Atlanta area, MRP Design Group is passionate about being your single source solution for award-winning commercial architectural and engineering services for a variety of market sectors. But we also want to make sure you’re choosing the right firm for you and for your project.
Here are some important things to look for as you consider selecting the right architect for your project:
Experience: How many years has the architect or the firm been in business? What’s their track record? Make sure they have experience in the type of project you need; specialization in that area is even better. And what’s their experience in your location? Having someone who is familiar with your local building codes and regulations can save you many headaches down the road. At MRP Design Group, we’re a one-stop shop, providing engineering and project management services in-house.
Communication: When it comes right down to it, you will be connecting with a person, not a firm. You need to know that you can connect personally with the architect. If your communication styles are diametrically opposed, you could be in trouble. You want to be sure you are on the same page and that you have clear expectations of each other.
Accreditation and certification: Make sure the architect has a degree from a college or university accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). They should also be certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and licensed in your state.
Current: Make sure the firm uses the latest digital tools and resources. Detailed and vivid plans means there is less chance for miscommunication. Plus computerized plans make adjustments faster and easier. A quick look at the firm’s website can tell you if they are up to date and moving forward or just resting on past laurels.
Now that we’re clear on what to look for, let’s think about how to find the best commercial architect for your design project:
Start with the Internet: To make a good list to start from, search the Internet for commercial architects in your area or who specialize in your project type: “Commercial Architect in Atlanta” or possibly, “Restaurant Architects”. Review each firm’s website to get a feel for the personality of the firm as well as their experience in your particular type of design project.
Ask others: Ask your friends and associates, especially peers in your field, for recommendations. Ask them if they know any of architectural firms from your search. Ask a pro in a field related to architecture (engineer, interior designer, general contractor). If they’ve worked with the architect, ask them about how well they worked together.
Other questions to ask about the architect: Do the architects listen well? What’s the firm’s typical response time to emails and voice mails? Does this firm employ experts in your project type? Does the firm provide a high level of service? Do they invest in long-term relationships? Do they have long-standing, repeat clients?
Interview your top choices: As you interview your top three to five choices, find out if the firm has a work-style that fits you and a communication style that matches yours. Ask if you would receive regular status updates and how often? And how will they happen—face to face, video conferencing, phone calls, emails, or all of the above? Make sure you are clear on expectations. This is your chance to evaluate the personal intangibles that can make or break your experience. If you search online, you can find many more examples of questions you could ask.
Check references: At this point you should be down to just a couple of choices. You may already have the choice determined and want to skip this step, but don’t. This is the time to check references. And go deep on your questions. Ask the hard questions and don’t be satisfied with pat answers.
As you evaluate architects, make sure to put MRP Design Services on your short list. We have been creating design and engineering solutions for the commercial retail, hotel, retail fueling, restaurant and food service and related industries for more than 28 years. Our mission is to meet each customer’s expectations by exercising creativity with a spirit to invent solutions. As a company dedicated to continued improvements and the growth of our customers, employees, suppliers, and the MRP organization, it is our mission to couple new discoveries and trained, motivated employees to deliver projects and services that will make our customers’ commercial sites the best they can be.