My opinion might be better than yours…

Bob Borson —  January 16, 2010 — 12 Comments

It’s true and I can tell you why. That’s why it’s better – because I can tell you why.

Have you ever been somewhere and thought “I really like this place” but if asked why, you don’t know? You just do. This could be about anything or any place.

Architects, and specifically architects who design, have been trained to understand why they like something and to then be able to articulate the reasons. You might like the color green because it’s pretty but I might say I like green because the way the light hits it and causes the surrounding areas to change and modify the perception of the size of the room.

It doesn’t mean your wrong or that there’s no value in your opinion, it’s just that I can evaluate the motivations for why I perceive things a particular way. Being able to express the reasons for evaluating a thing makes that judgement more valid. It isn’t a gift, it’s a skill that takes a long time to develop and understand and I work at it constantly.

The ability of any designer to be any good at what they do (at least in a service capacity) is their ability to listen to a client, who can’t describe why they like something other than they like it, and walk them through what they are looking at and describe it for them. Hopefully, the process will get you both to the essence of what makes a thing great and apply those qualities to something new without resorting to copying.

  • Sabastine

    I am an Architect from Nigeria, I have finished my Bsc program in Architecture but I have always dreamt of registering with American Institutes of Architects but don’t know how to go about it. can anyone help me out

  • hyperme:D

    EXACTLY…… that explains it all!!! ;)

  • hyperme:D

    EXACTLY…… that explains it all!!! ;)

  • Ken@bluedotdesign

    Hi Bob, been reading your blog for a while so i’ll come in from the shadows since I’ve been meaning to write a post on this very subject. For me. this addresses the age old question I get from owners and from contractors, “why do I need an architect.” The best way i’ve been to convey it to people is to compare it to the profession of medicine.  I usually respond with, if I go pass the medical exams to  be a MD. will you let me be your Dr?  If not why not??? Here is my thinking……
        Dr’s like architects have take a rather lengthy set of exams to before they become and MD.  So If you can pass the test this makes you a Dr. right.  No, like architects the profession is not all about book knowledge(although very important).  It is learning a particular way to evaluate a set of  conditions and its variables. For MD’s this way of thinking called differential diagnosis.  Medical rounds during residency  are essentially crits(critiques) of this developing skill of differential diagnosis.In architecture school then intent is to develop critical thinking of design and be able to communicate this clearly. Our studio critiques in school like medical rounds serve as a forum to present a solution which is critically examined. Unfortunately unlike  Medicines empericism, architecture is subject to constant subjective interpretation of aesthetics. The question of being sick presents all sorts of objective symptoms to the laymen. But lack of beauty(symptoms of ugly) only present  to those who have developed the skill to understand what qualities lend to beauty in the first place, Architects(or designers in general) 

    Cheers,

    Keep up the great work. 

  • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob

    Hear, Hear! (get it?)
    Great comment. It makes all the difference in the world and the experience for the client is so much better but the part that is the real kicker is that the designer will have a better experience as well.

  • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/ Bob

    Hear, Hear! (get it?)
    Great comment. It makes all the difference in the world and the experience for the client is so much better but the part that is the real kicker is that the designer will have a better experience as well.

  • http://www.kitchendetailsanddesign.com detailsanddesign

    Excellent. I tell my people, “you have to ask the right questions to get the right answers” and this ties into what you are saying here. Most people do not get “it” whatever “it” may be for that particular situation because they are not listening to the client and really “hearing” what they are saying which may not have any relationship to the “words” they actually use! That is the hallmark of a great designer…being able to “hear”between the lines!!

  • http://www.kitchendetailsanddesign.com/ detailsanddesign

    Excellent. I tell my people, “you have to ask the right questions to get the right answers” and this ties into what you are saying here. Most people do not get “it” whatever “it” may be for that particular situation because they are not listening to the client and really “hearing” what they are saying which may not have any relationship to the “words” they actually use! That is the hallmark of a great designer…being able to “hear”between the lines!!

  • bborson

    Thanks.

    Owner's representative is also an under appreciated role in the process of getting quality projects built. Two of my best friends work in that capacity and I have experienced first hand the benefit they bring to the mix. Hopefully your experience with architects includes some good times as well. If not, come work with me!

  • bborson

    Thanks. Owner's representative is also an under appreciated role in the process of getting quality projects built. Two of my best friends work in that capacity and I have experienced first hand the benefit they bring to the mix. Hopefully your experience with architects includes some good times as well. If not, come work with me!

  • James

    "The ability of any designer to be any good at what they do (at least in a service capacity) is their ability to listen to a client, who can't describe why they like something other than they like it, and walk them through what they are looking at and describe it for them."

    You know, that is a great statement. I work in the construction industry as an owner's representative and you have no idea how many "prima donna" architects I have worked with over the years that just won't listen to their clients because their egos get in the way.

  • James

    "The ability of any designer to be any good at what they do (at least in a service capacity) is their ability to listen to a client, who can't describe why they like something other than they like it, and walk them through what they are looking at and describe it for them."You know, that is a great statement. I work in the construction industry as an owner's representative and you have no idea how many "prima donna" architects I have worked with over the years that just won't listen to their clients because their egos get in the way.