How to select an Architect?

Architect Evaluation & Interview Preparation

  • Create a list of 4-5 Architectural firms you are interested in learning more about.
  • Solicit Qualifications from them in the form of an RFQ and select 2-3 to interview.

Invite each of the 2-3 prospective Architects to interview with your committee, sending:

  • Scope and building program information
  • Times each firm can tour the future job site with the Facilities Administrator or Committee Chairman
  • A list of interview questions
  • Scheduled interview times and location after confirming availability
  • A list of what technology will be available to use in the presentations (projector, screen or T.V. monitor, etc.)

Interview Room Tips

  • Schedule an interview room large enough to hold the Committee and 4+ members of the Architecture team.
  • Set up tables in an arc or U shape and prepare any special projection equipment if available.
  • Have a designated committee member help welcome teams arriving early and direct them to a waiting room

Architect Interviews

By now you’ve identified a few qualified firms to interview. The process of selecting an Architect can be done in one evening as the committee is gathered and focused on the task. This is a time for each company to present their best qualities and allow the committee to experience the firms’ personalities and find the best fit. Though it is a long meeting, it is encouraged to select an Architect that day as the memories of the presentations are fresh, the committee is present, and the prior research has been done.

Typical Interview Schedule:

  • 15 min for the committee to convene
  • 15 min. 1st Presenter set up & introductions
  • 45 min 1st Interview (30 min presentation / 15 min for Q&A)
  • 10 min break for transition to the next firm
  • Repeat steps for each firm
  • 30 min to deliberate and make a selection

To arrive at a consensus, many committees go around the room asking for the top 2 that stand out to each of the committee members to eliminate 1, then talk through what aspects of the remaining 2 stood out. From there, 1 company generally rises above the other, but another vote may be taken.

Many hours were spent by all parties in preparation for this night. Send out “Thank You’s” to all participant firms promptly and indicate if a selection has been made or note an expected date for the selection to be made

Typical Questions asked of Architects

Background and Experience Questions

  • What other work have you done for churches or facilities of our type?
  • Describe your qualifications for designing a church or school?
  • What is your experience working with a community/ complex of our size?
  • What is your philosophy and approach to working with a similar community?
  • What makes you different from other architects?
  • Can you give us examples of past projects similar to ours?
  • Can you provide a list of references for projects of similar scope?
  • Are there any plans in your company for mergers, partnering, or selling the business within the near future?

Design Process Questions

  • Describe your design process including how you establish priorities and make design decisions. How does your company view its role in this process?
  • Is it one of listening and incorporating ideas, or is it one of guidance, or both? Explain your reasoning.
  • What is your approach to committee opinions about design or strategy that significantly differ from your experience and expertise?
  • What do you expect from the church and/or committee during this process?
  • Do you have experience with sustainable or “green” design? Is this something we need to consider?

Project Questions

  • Tell us in your own words your understanding of our goals and constraints?
  • Given your understanding of our current situation, needs, goals, and desires, is this a project that you are interested in and are able to complete within the timeframe that we want?
  • What are your impressions of our campus? Do you have any initial ideas to share with us? Do you foresee any significant development challenges?
  • What are we missing? What should we be considering that we are not?
  • Describe the anticipated degree of disruption created by the construction process.
  • Can you work with the existing master plan and needs assessment, or do you want to start from scratch?
  • Who in your firm will lead and support our project?
  • Why are they qualified / best fit for our project?
    • Can you commit to having that person(s) engaged until the project is complete?
    • Under what circumstances would that change?
    • Will there be other consultants involved in our project? Are their fees included within your fee?
    • What steps do you take to help keep our project on schedule and budget?
  • How do you work to limit the number of Change Orders?
  • Are you equipped to provide construction cost estimates during the design process?
  • How do you work with a church that has a budget shortfall How do you see your role in selecting builders and in working with them during the construction process?

Fee Questions

  • What do you charge for Master Planning Services?
  • What is your fee structure for Architectural Services? – OR – How do you establish your fees?
  • What is included in your basic service and what services incur additional fees? How do you handle change orders? How are changes justified and approved? How do you communicate the changes and the impacts?
  • How frequently do you bill, and what are the conditions of payment for work to continue on our project?