Architects, Design and ROI

By Bruce Firestone | Real Estate

Mar 06

When I taught at Carleton University’s Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism, I emphasized through the course, Design Economics, the importance of treating your clients as patrons not customers.

That means, students were encouraged to:

-think about not only the beauty of their designs and the urban context in which they were built, but also the ROI (return on investment) for their clients and their client’s clients as well as the city as a whole

By clients’ clients I meant–buyers, renters, tenants, lessees, property managers, visitors, guests, tourists…

I also wanted them to understand their clients’ businesses almost as well as they did so that they could show the value they are creating for patrons.

Why was this important?

So, they could justify their fees not based on costs but on revenues, ROI and overall value.

I wanted to even up the field to make their struggle over fees a bit more equal.

So, when I read this email from a client, needless to say I was disappointed:

It’s shameful, what a douche-bag my architect is. My project has layouts that totally suck.

• Bedrooms that are 8 ft wide

• Balconies that are 3 ft deep to preserve the sleek look of no balconies protruding from the outside to make it look good on a magazine but useless to my buyers

• Dining rooms facing the back of the tv where all the cables are

• Over 350 sq ft of lost corridors and circulation space in each unit

• If you look at the plan, it looks ok, but that’s only because they shrunk the furniture!

• The exterior is an expensive terra cotta envelop–you could get the same look in precast with durability for a lot less plus terra cotta is terrible in a cold climate; it cracks due to severe changes in temperature

Basically, my buyers will have to pay over $500/sq ft for a 1,500 sq ft apartment when we could have gotten the same functionality for $350 on 1,150 sq ft by using better suited materials and eliminating wasted space.

Shameful indeed.

Prof Bruce

Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (civil), M Eng-Sci, PhD
ROYAL LePAGE Performance Realty broker
Ottawa Senators founder
Real Estate Investment and Business coach


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About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.