Calling all Clients...\

RIBA asks clients what they really think of architects

Nigel Ostime, Hawkins\Brown’s Project Delivery Director, is chair of the RIBA Client Liaison Group, which has recently published a survey to find out what construction industry clients think of architects.

This survey is a critical part of developing our understanding of what constitutes value to our clients. As the people who pay our fees, knowing what they think of us and monitoring our performance on issues that matter most to them is critical for our long-term commercial and, ultimately, professional well-being.

The RIBA Client Liaison Group was set up in 2013 to get feedback from clients on what architects do well and what we could improve. Its activities are predicated on the old adage that if you want to improve something first of all you have to measure it. The group set out three key aims:

1. To make the RIBA more outward facing; 
2. To provide a forum to hear views directly from client bodies and 
3. To provide a vehicle to feed ideas and initiatives from the Institute back to them.

Phase One

Phase one of the programme involved getting clients around the table, grouped by sector or type and asking them value-based questions such as

• How do you view architects and architecture?
• Where can architects add greatest value?
• What roles do you see your architects performing?

From 11 separate groups, the outputs have included articles setting out the findings of each roundtable,  as well as over 50 filmed interviews, take a look at the findings.

The findings were also summarised in ‘Client & Architect: developing the essential relationship’, published in September 2015.

Phase Two

Now a second phase of the group’s work has commenced, which includes a new ‘working with architects’ survey, opened last week.

We would welcome all our clients to add their thoughts to the study, which takes just 5 minutes to complete. 

The findings will benchmark client attitudes, inform future RIBA policy, and for the first time gather a body of evidence which will demonstrate the value of working with architects. They will give valuable insights into what clients want: information that architects can use to improve how they win and deliver work. They will also help architects develop their skills to remain relevant and to continue to provide a significant and valuable leadership role and add creative innovation to the construction industry.

There are two versions of the survey, one for private ‘consumer’ clients, and another for commercial clients; please make sure you open the correct one. The findings will be announced at Grand Designs Live and UK Construction Week in October.

Clients into Schools of Architecture

Another part of the current programme of the Client Liaison Group is to get real-world clients to participate in the briefing and design review process for project work in schools of architecture. So far we have signed up four schools to trial the scheme and we aim to broaden this group next year.

The idea stems from a thought-piece in ‘Client & Architect’ which debated the critical activities of the briefing process and identified how these might be improved through earlier exposure of designers to clients than is generally the case at present.

If you are a client and would be interested in getting involved in this ground-breaking exercise please contact Nigel Ostime.

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