Our third and last panel before summer, Communicating Architecture: How to Tell a Compelling Story featured a panel of fellows practicing across the public and private sectors. Their work has been recognized for design excellence so we invited them to share their ideas on presentation techniques, connecting with clients, and winning new work.

Joann Gonchar of Architectural Record moderated the panel with astute questions on how the panelists approach commissions and how they handle project stakeholders after it’s been awarded. One of the key points was understanding the stakeholders and what format a proposal will be received; presenting in person is a very different proposition than submitting a written document with images. Strategies for presenting good design don’t end after a proposal, they are also used during later project phases so the panel also shared advocacy strategies used to defend project elements threatened by value engineering. Depending on the scale and client you might justify a design through performance values and hard facts. You might also appeal to a client by suggesting that a piece of the program is critical to the future life of a building. However, it’s important to be selective in which parts are worth defending—sometimes a client’s insistence on making a change to the design can be well founded. In all the answers the panelists frequently agreed that listening first then answering with honesty is the best policy when dealing with clients on any scale.

Similar to previous panels, the fellows shared the importance of loving what you do. No matter how successful a design strategy is on one project, it will probably be different on another, but architects should bring passion and experience to each one. The design process is supposed to evolve and it’s important to challenge yourself as part of the reward of working in architecture.

Joann Gonchar, FAIA, LEED AP, Senior Editor, Architectural Record

Andrew Bernheimer, FAIA, Principal, Bernheimer Architecture
Katherine Chia, FAIA, Principal, Desai Chia Architecture
Frank Greene, FAIA, Principal, Ricci Greene Architects
Frances Halsband, FAIA, Principal, Kliment Halsband Architects