Beer in hand, it’s very much Friday, and one for a long weekend. Just a few minutes before I’m late for dinner, and I’m not going to miss it.
We spent the week cramming for a client meeting on Thursday, out of town. By far, this is the largest contract currently in the office, and we’re thrilled to have it. We started the project at Construction Documents phase, which is less uncommon than I would prefer. In the production phases of a project, we like CD’s to be at least step #3 – following two rounds of design and coordination with all parties involved. But this project jumped in with both feet. Them: “How quickly can you get this done?” Us: “Give us a month.” A month, of course, is two weeks longer than the standard answer. This is a large project after all.
I hit 40 hours for the week early on Wednesday; the staff wasn’t far behind. I think our set looked good, and it the presentation went great. We left our questions unanswered on the drawings. This made the talking points obvious, and we answered the questions around the table. An engineer joined us, and we left the meeting with the project solved. No problems, good conversation, reuben for lunch.
And then we talked about money.
How long will this season last? Is this the status of the profession? Is this simply what it’s like to be a new firm in town, a new firm in the state? Can I blame this on the financial crisis, credit default swaps, or the housing glut, of which by the way I am drawing more? There’s no doubt that I’m learning lessons in professional communication, honesty, competency, and billing boldness. I wish I knew what the client was learning. I wish I was more sure that we’re being helpful in a mutual kind of way.
Design offices often refer to themselves as service firms. When pressed, those firm owners will tell you that this means they put their clients’ needs before their own. It’s a noble calling, I don’t resent it. But I’m perpetually reminded that agreements are between two parties. We’re in this together.
Day after the big meeting now, and I’m trying to build more connections. Spent the day on the phone, on the email, on the social networking, scanning the trade journals. As with most of my colleagues, this is a good time to hit us up for those mutual agreements. It’s a buyer’s market, we’re looking for corporate income. We stand by the theory that work begets that income, or at least that work is the right thing to do, and I’m ready to sign.
Andy Osterlund AIA | LEED AP
Andrew Osterlund, Architect, PLLC
GREEN | URBAN | SMART ARCHITECTURE
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