Have you ever worked with a landscape design firm that had great concepts but poor execution? How about one with great follow through but no original ideas?
It is a well-established notion that most people are naturally more skilled at either strategic thinking or attention to detail. The designers that excel at design creation tend to come up with great new ideas and new projects but they struggle when it comes to filling in the details. On the other hand, some designers are experts at execution. They think about things in great detail but sometimes miss the big picture or have difficulty coming up with vision.
As a developer you may have had trouble contracting with a landscape architect or rooftop and urban designer that could provide creative ideas and flawless execution. All design firms market themselves as creative but their creativity can be difficult to evaluate if you don’t have any experience working with them. Likewise, it can be hard to judge the capability of a firm to follow through to the end of a project until you have completed at least one project together.
How can you be sure your designers are committed to bringing both design creation and execution of style to every project? Consider the following practices to watch for in a firm when looking to hire.
Clear on Scope
One way to evaluate consultants is how well they communicate their scope within a proposal. Do they make it clear that there are limits to their execution of the project? Or do they willingly take on consultant coordination and detailing of everything within the spaces they design?
Rooftop and outdoor living spaces usually fall through the cracks during a project. The best approach is to have a knowledgeable consultant take the lead on these aspects of the project. They can ensure that everything is covered or referenced in all of the drawings. This way you’ll have a great experience seeing your vision actualized.
You can identify a well-balanced firm by the services they offer. For example, do they offer conceptual design (creative) as well as specifications (technical)? Construction details (technical) along with 3D visualization (creative)? If so, they likely have a proven track record delivering both the creative and technical aspects of a project.
Everything is Design
Landscape design firms that can be creative and execute demonstrate that every stage of the process involves design. Design should be viewed as an on-going activity from the big idea stages to the details in execution. Every team member has the responsibility to think critically about the design at every stage of the project. This perspective urges the strategic thinkers to consider details and compels the tactics specialists to connect with the overarching ideas.
While this approach can be more challenging, it undoubtedly produces the best final product. By striking a balance between the creative and technical minds in an office, everyone benefits. Every project should get priority-level attention as each team member is locked in on the broad vision and thinking critically about the small, but significant details.
Does the firm have a habit of drawing by hand as a group? This is a key indicator that they practice team-oriented design. It prevents individuals from working in a silo and missing pieces of the overall story. As the whole office engages in sketching, big ideas and fine details come together to bring about great results.
Some more general design firms achieve high levels of creativity and are nationally or internationally sought after for design concepts and visionary ideas. Others do a great job of executing projects in their local market with sound experience in construction documentation, city permitting, and construction administration. This is why many projects have one firm on board as the “design architect” and other as the “project architect” or “architect of record.”
While this system can work well, if you’re looking for a firm that can provide both high quality creativity and follow through seek out those that focus on a particular project type. If a firm claims to do great design and flawless execution on every project type they may be casting too wide a net and are only mediocre at both.
Being super focused on a particular project type contributes to the ability to excel at both the creativity and execution. Because niche firms don’t attempt to be expert at all design, their focus provides the chance to deepen their level of expertise. This allows for the mastery of the art of combining the creative and technical.