Communication, Back to the Basics

Communication is one tool that should be in each and every persons arsenal. Instead this very critical tool seems to be in short supply and, at times, is seldom used. Communication is not bound by profession, social status, economic status, gender, age, race, or any other variable. Communication is, and always will be, the way of life because it is the currency of words and expressions in the richest form. Effective communication occurs in many different forms, sometimes verbally, visually, or even by way of expression. One of the most critical roles that an architect will play is learning to communicate with clients in a way that is most comfortable and familiar to the client. Often times designs and concepts can be lost in translation because the client is unable to interpret the intention of the architect. According to Andrea Dietz (author of article: Communication), “learning to communicate with non-architects turned out to be my biggest challenge… I realized neither the breadth nor the hindering power of the gap in communication between the architect’s academic world and the ‘outside’ everyday world until I was forced to span it myself.” (P. 144).

Communication takes on a very circular and fluid form, it is an active process that requires more than a passive response. As an individual that works within the design community it is especially important to practice circular communication, which involves conveying an idea to the target audience, getting feedback, discussing the idea and feedback, modifying and conveying new or revised ideas, and repeating the process until all parties have a full understanding of actionable items. Dietz explains how poor communication can be detrimental to a project, “I attempted to clarify my thoughts with drawings and models, but my abstract creations were just as useless as my specialized words… They responded that they trusted me, but that did not convince me that they understood the building design that was taking shape.” (P. 146).

Dietz, “the hopes and dreams of many communities are dependent on the visioning skills of design and the practical skill of construction budgeting. Architects are trained to provide both services, and thus can play an important role in community projects.” (P. 141). Effective and successful communication takes place when architects can interpret and communicate the vision of the client in a visual format that can be easily understood. In addition, clients should be able to reiterate the design concept of the architect in order to express the proposed program to the architect and to lenders.

Dietz, “I realized sometimes we have to shut up.” (P. 148).

If we forge ahead without having a clear vision we will end up creating bigger and more costly problems down the line. Dietz, “I have learned a valuable lesson: If architecture truly is to be a social art, then the architect must truly be for the people – speaking for the people, crafting for the people, designing for the people, communicating, connecting, including. Maybe that knowledge is what will make all the difference.” (P. 148).

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