Architizer, the recently launched social networking site for architects, hosted Design Clinic this year at Dwell on Design. It was a chance for anyone to make an appointment with a practicing local architect for a free, 20-minute consultation. I sat down with Jenda Michl, principal of the Hollywood firm Vertu Studio, to find out what people wanted to know, what kind of problems they have, and what challenges face today’s young designers.
How many consultations did you do at the Architizer booth?
I did four official meetings and then a kind of informal fifth just hanging around the booth.
Was there a particular question or situation that kept coming up?
People in the process of a project who have somehow hit a wall. They needed reassurance maybe, or had started a project and changed it midway through, and were at a point of asking themselves, “what do we do now?"
And how did you talk them through that?
My goal was to help them conclude that bringing on an architect, or maybe changing architects, can help. Some people had only an idea, or if they were past the idea phase they were maybe talking to a builder, or perhaps even had an architect and were at a point of frustration with them. I had a guy who was very proud to take ownership of the design of his house, but he was adding dormers, and then rounded dormers and he really didn’t know why. That made me curious about how he’d even gotten an architect in the first place. He told me that he went through his local AIA chapter and found somebody, but for him I don’t think that sounded like the best process.
Do you find that a lot of people try to skip working with architects?
Yes. They think that it’s easier and cheaper not to and that’s something I tackle every day of my life. How can we, as a profession, overcome the belief that it’s cheaper and better not to use an architect? We have to show that architects are not luxury goods.
Have you been on Architizer long?
I think I was one of the early people to get on. I’d say that I’ve been on for eight or nine months.
Has it worked out well for you?
It’s a great site, and word needs to get out more about it being for a tool for finding architects. That said, it’s up to architects to get on there first.