Finding the best commercial architecture firm for your building renovation or new-build project should be easy, right? After all, an online search is just a click away.
But when Google, Yahoo or your search engine of choice shows you pages and pages of results, you could still be unsure where to turn next.
One way to find a commercial architect in your area is to add your city’s name in the search query — for example, Atlanta commercial architect or commercial architect in Atlanta. Drilling down like this narrows the number of results and prioritizes local commercial architect firms based on the addresses on their websites.
Searching online is often your first step, but it shouldn’t be the only one. Cooper Pierce, the Commercial Team Leader and Firm Leader at our Atlanta-based firm, knows that many people find his commercial architect services online. “Everyone’s going to search the internet,” Cooper says, “But people don’t always know how to find a firm that matches their needs — or where else to find an architect besides looking on the web.”
Tips for Finding a Commercial Architect
Picking the right commercial architect for your project is a big decision. When doing the search, take the time you need for thoughtful due diligence, and make sure you feel comfortable with your decision.
Cooper recommends keeping these eight ideas in mind to make the most of your search for a commercial architect:
Be specific about what you need. Do you want to build a commercial prep kitchen from the ground up? Or renovate a fitness center for a townhome complex you own? Cooper suggests being specific in your search query, when doing online research, and also when you ask a business acquaintance or LinkedIn connection for a referral. “Keep your needs and expectations front and center, as some architects only work on certain types of projects or with experienced property owners,” he says.
Thoroughly review the firm’s website. When you explore the architectural firm’s website, do you find detailed information about the company’s capabilities? What about a project portfolio showing their work? Read as much of the information as you can and explore the project photos and descriptions. If their style appeals to you, they could be a good fit. (Here’s where you can find our commercial project portfolio.)
Look beyond the firm’s website. Reviewing the architect’s own information is important, but also spend time googling the company and searching for information about the firm’s principals. “You can often find news stories, online ratings and industry articles mentioning the firm,” Cooper says.
Visit the firm’s social media pages. Architects often rely on social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram, to visually communicate what they do and show recent photos of commercial property jobs. You should be able to find an architecture firm’s social media accounts on its website, often in the footer (bottom) section. Like what you see and what the firm stands for? If so, you’re on the right track to finding your future partner. (Check out our Facebook and Instagram pages sometime!)
Read online reviews. The more experienced, long-time commercial architecture firms get reviewed online by clients, and you can find these reviews on the company’s Google Business listing. (That’s the info-module that includes their address, hours and such, that shows up in a web search). You may also find their reviews on Yelp and on the firms’ social media accounts.
Ask fellow property developers. Do you know anyone who collaborated with a commercial architect before? Ask them who they worked with, what their experience was like and if they’d consider the architect to be referable.
Go big or go small. Is this your first time hiring a commercial architect? Choosing a large firm might be the right choice for you, but it could also be the wrong one. “Large commercial property developers tend to work with bigger Atlanta firms,” Cooper says. “But consider smaller firms, too, because being the small fish in the big pond could mean you don’t get personalized service or the right attention on your project.”
Find someone you click with. Fit is important when you seek out a commercial architect, so take time to meet with the person or team you’re evaluating. “You could be spending time with the architect on a project that takes months or years,” Cooper says. “So, there has to be rapport early on and high confidence the relationship will withstand whatever comes your way during the property renovation or build.”
You’re Invested in the Commercial Property — and Your Architect
Many of the people we work with throughout the Atlanta metro and in nearby cities and states are renovating or buying commercial property for the first time. The money, energy and time they invest will be significant. Our consultative approach to commercial projects means we help clients analyze the viability of their project early on and educate them on the process of working with an architect.
“Understanding the funds that are needed to fully fund a project is key in the discussions we have with a prospective client,” says Cooper. “There is typically some risk involved and having frank conversations is essential.”
Cooper says doing information-gathering and having candid discussions upfront demonstrate to clients that our focus isn’t on designing award-winning buildings. “We genuinely want to give them good design for what they want, what works best for the property and at a cost that fits their budget,” Cooper says.