Kirk’s Paradigm says, for a great project you’ve gotta have the right owner, the right program, the right site, the right budget, the right contractor, and the right architect. If one of these is missing, the whole project can suffer for it. If you can get all six things to come together, then you have an opportunity to make something great.
The final element: Gotta Have the Right Architect!
Now for the punch line, the 6th Thing. Of course, it’s the Right Architect. The wisdom in Kirk’s Paradigm is the recognition that the right architect is part of a larger building design and construction ecosystem. Given the right conditions, and the right players, there is an opportunity to give life to great projects.
Kirk was a great architect. He was also a mentor, a trusted voice, and had the presence to carry a room when he was speaking on the topic of architecture. He was a Harvard grad, civic-minded, and a true southern gentleman. He could work a room at a party and everyone was a friend. He understood people. He had a delightfully high, giggling laughter, and favored very loud leisure attire. He demonstrated the best way to lead a diverse group is with a light touch, to engage each in the talents they bring.
In our personality-obsessed society, the term “Starchitect” is often used to describe that singular design personality that must take command, providing the singular vision to produce great architecture. Project leadership is vital, and Kirk knew that leadership of diverse teams is all about listening more than speaking, teamwork, technical precision, professional integrity, and collaboration over designing for fashion or winning a design award. Kirk’s irreverence for hubris extended to “Frank Lloyd Jesus”, the original starchitect of his early career.
Kirk’s Paradigm recognizes architects are more conductors of the orchestra than virtuoso soloists.
Cooperation and collaboration with the other players can produce the synergistic result of great projects.
What They Say About Us
On a recent complex downtown construction site, we had a general contractor comment to the CGDers that they liked working with CGD, and were looking forward to more projects with us, that we seemed to “get it”. I heard the story back at our office and asked if he’d elaborate. This is what he said:
Here is a list of things that come to mind for the folks at CGD, and so far I can attest that you are all cut from the same cloth…so you’re doing a good job with your new hires!
You listen to us. Too often these days designers want things done per their detail whether their detail makes sense or not.
You are flexible with your details based on constructability.
You are trustworthy. There are many times where you give us direction in the field and there is no correspondence in writing. There aren’t many firms I trust on that level.
You are conscious of the owner’s budget and are willing to entertain our thoughts and ideas when the budget is an issue.
You have a project architect that follows the project from start to finish. Having too many layers of people on one job makes things complicated.
You are all pleasant to be around.
The Right Architect listens, is empathetic, and understands the sensitivity needed to shepherd a project, with all its goals and expectations, through design and construction.