In this context we refer to ‘you’ as the client organisation. The project sponsor has overall responsibility for external relationships although aspects of the responsibilities outlined here may be delegated. Good communication, both formal and informal, is a crucial success factor. You should take responsibility throughout the project for ensuring that communication is as good as it possibly can be. The most important part of this communication is developing the brief for the project.
A good quality brief is the most important input to the project and it is your responsibility to develop it. You should use your architect to help you develop the brief as they will be able to provide valuable input to it but, more importantly, they must understand the brief both at the level of detail and vision if they are to come up with the best design solution.
As the architect works with you to turn the brief into sketches that capture the concept, a scheme design and then eventually a detailed design, a series of detailed drawings will emerge such as plans, sections, elevations and perspectives. You need to understand these drawings, which can be very detailed, as you (or the relevant committee on your advice) will have to sign them off. Your architect should also provide sketches and artists impressions and perhaps a computer-generated fly-through of your building to help you.
It is important that you establish at the outset what the fees are for the architectural and all other consultant and professional, such as the quantity surveyor and mechanical and electrical advisers, services and agree these in writing.
It is equally important that you make it clear to the architect whether there is a defined budget for the project, what this amount is, and what it should include. For example, does it include VAT, professional fees and IT equipment? At a relatively early stage you will also need to know the indicative programme for the project as this not only directly affects the resource planning for the project but will also impact on the professional fees.
The Learning Gateway at The University of Cumbria is based on the assumption that the relationship between the physical environment and the student experience is vital and that the latter can be enhanced if it is designed in right from the start.
The Architect, Raymond Whitaker states:
"To have such a statement within an architectural brief is unusual and to the architect both daunting and exciting at the same time for it acknowledges that a building is not merely a passive box within which activities take place but a structure that can actively affect how the occupants interact. In fact the brief for the Learning Gateway was unusual in many ways for it did not specify the number or size of rooms but instead spoke of interactivity, flexibility, innovation and institutional pride."