Teamwork and Leadership Through Final Phases are Critical for Client Satisfaction

We often hear from clients about bad experiences when design teams pull away in the construction phase, resulting in a shaky finish to a project that can be difficult to overcome. Often, the lasting impression that clients take with them is borne out of the stage of a project when architects can feel ill-equipped to focus on great customer service–either due to competing priorities or a client’s budget prerogative.

As construction winds down, the developer enters an exciting yet nerve-wracking period: they reach the end of their leverage over the design and construction process and prepare to take control of an asset that has yet to earn revenue. This is the time when their vision comes to life, and impactful decisions must be made efficiently.

Meanwhile, the architect has collected most of their contract fee and must carefully balance their negotiated construction phase budget with their commitment to providing first-class service. And on the job site, upgrades, unforeseen conditions, and change orders are depleting the construction contingency. As project managers, we work hard to navigate these waters and deliver successful results in spite of the challenges–knowing that solid execution here can build and reinforce a strong bond with clients.

A view of Spoke, nearing the end of construction. Image courtesy of Daniel Schell /

We work tirelessly to make our construction documents comprehensive and buildable, and we mindfully pursue collegial, collaborative relationships with our general contractors because we know that being engaged, thoughtful, and even-tempered can prevent adversarial situations. Owning mistakes when necessary, and finding solutions instead of problems are the best ways to build goodwill for the future. Success as a team will ensure we will meet our commitment to deliver a project that embodies the client’s vision.

Our decades of work for developers has helped us understand the financial risks our clients undertake and the complex strategy they must employ to see their project to fruition. We strive to be the best possible strategic partner and make it known through our actions that each project is important to us. By doing so we find that this consistently improves the experience for our valued clients and our trusted partners, and we know that if we do that well, we’ll earn the invitation to the next creative journey.

A. Sean O’Gorman, LEED AP
Managing Associate