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While it might be easy to change out equipment, update programing or launch new services, re-constructing your entire building can be a much larger undertaking. Undergoing a renovation or expansion requires a big investment of time and resources. Therefore, it is essential to choose the perfect architecture company.

But with numerous architecture and design companies out there, it can be hard to determine which one is the perfect fit for your project. “You want to work with a design team that has specific experience with designing health clubs,” said Brian Beckler, a senior principle at Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative. “Does the architect understand how the private club industry works? What are those challenges like attracting new members and retaining members? You want someone who understands the bottom line and that you are trying to generate revenue and create value wherever possible.”

If you have an upcoming renovation or expansion project, Beckler provided a list of the 11 things to consider when choosing an architecture company:

  • Experience: Depth of experience and pervious experience with a similar project type.
  • History: Are they established within the region? Have they worked on projects in your region? Are they involved with local associations?
  • Chemistry: Do you feel like the partnership would be a good match? Do your personalities match? Do you trust the company?
  • Flexibility: Do they listen to your needs? Are they collaborative and willing to work as team?
  • Vision: Do they understand YOUR project? Do they understand the health club industry and the importance of maximizing the end-user experience? Do they understand your business and ability to minimize long-term operations (staffing, maintenance, energy costs, future growth, etc.)
  • Commitment: Are they committed to the project? How are the response times? Are they hard to reach or consistently available?
  • Problem solving: Do they show creativity in problem solving any issues that may arise?
  • Budgeting: Are they able to design within a budget and stick to that budget?
  • Support: Do they support project goals beyond design, like community engagement, partnerships, feasibility and business planning?
  • References: References are reassuring, but it’s important to ask the hard questions. What worked? What didn’t work? Did working with this firm create value for the community? Would you hire them again?
  • Communication: Talk directly with the architect that would be on your job before selecting a firm. And don’t forget to ask a lot of questions.
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Emily Harbourne

Emily Harbourne is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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