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The Importance of Scheming 04.20.2009

Posted by Dan Sheehan in BnB.
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Not a great scheme Any idea that an architect has is going to change over the course of a project.  An architect’s idea becomes precious, like (to use an image that is popping up frequently in my circle of friends) a child. You imbue your idea with your traits and characteristics.  It grows.  In doing so, it responds to other influences around it (client, builder, code).  Finally your idea is an adult in full, mature and carrying your traits but also the experiences of the world of building in which it has grown.  For the architect, this is the path from schematic design to construction.

While sometimes frustrating on a superficial level (ouch, my ego), I always find it necessary for a project’s success.  I like to look at this not so much as a change, but as an evolution.  Take, for instance, the radical evolution of the Sexton Kitchen.

The family was renovating their home in phases of which the kitchen was to be the first, along with new windows and insulation.  I worked with a pretty tight budget, and was able to put together a pair of great conceptual designs.  One even had a sick spiral staircase that would have been a lot of fun to frame.  In the end, the coming winter reversed their plans and they went forward with insulation and window replacement first.

By the time the kitchen came around, the conceptual design no longer fell in their revised budget.  However, the need for a new kitchen was still great.  No worries.  I suggested a skilled and cost effective contractor that could help them out.  In the end they made some sacrifices (reused the cabinets, put aside the country aesthetic) but got a great kitchen at a fraction of the cost.

Tim was apologetic.  I think he told me something like, “Sorry we didn’t use your design.  I know you were excited about it.”  I still was.  I told Tim that, despite the need for the change in design, the conceptual design we did yielded ideas.  The project changed, but without that initial exercise, they would not have really known what they wanted.  And the kitchen is solid and functional.  (but man that spiral staircase would have been fun.)