Published April 24, 1998 in the COLORADO REAL ESTATE JOURNAL
Know What is Offered Before Choosing an Architect
by Warren Kieding
LIKE IT OR NOT, THE TENANT'S QUESTION of remodel or relocation comes up at least about every five years. While a tenant can simply do nothing by leaving the space the way it is and re-upping the lease with no improvements, most will opt to make some kind of significant change.
For some tenants, the process of change is a prescription for disruption and budget-blowing frustrations. For others it is a welcome opportunity to enhance the overall operation of the business and its future growth. Either way, the interior architect has a role in the process of this change. How significant a role depends on the particular route the tenant takes in its selection.
There are two clear cut choices here. The tenant can choose to work with the landlord's (or the building's) tenant finish architect, or it can retain its own. While no less critical to the actual nut-and-bolts process of remodel or relocation, the role of the landlord's interior architect is significantly different from that of the tenant's architect.
Confusing? Think of the architect for a minute in a medical capacity. The landlord's tenant finish architect is kind of like an emergency room physician. His role is to provide a quick and competent professional diagnosis of the needs of the tenant, and recommend a remedy. These abbreviated services typically consist of one or more relatively brief meetings with the tenant to determine requirements for improvement construction, and prepare a space plan for budgeting purposes capped off by architectural working drawings for a building permit. That's it. The parameters are tight, the service options, few.
All other professional support associated with the process can fall primarily upon a member of the tenant's staff, like an office manager, for example. To a lesser degree, these coordination tasks might also be assigned to the landlord's tenant coordinator, generally the building property manager.
This "ER" type of tenant finish architectural service, provided for by landlords, is entirely adequate for tenants with minimum requirements, but really, tantamount to administering first aid. And there's certainly nothing wrong with that, as long as the tenant knows up front what it is getting, and who is doing the work.
By contrast, and getting back to our medical motif, the interior architect working directly for the tenant might be thought of as a medical team's internist. The tenant's interior architect is a corporate planning specialist bringing a wider, more comprehensive range of services to the guts of the deal. But what are these extended services and what value do they bring a tenant?
THE FACILITIES PROGRAM
A facilities program specifically defines what the tenant wants. Simply stated, the facilities program defines the real estate requirements, staffing, furniture, fixtures and equipment necessary to implement the immediate and long-term goals of the business.
Yet, even in today's savvy economic conditions, few businesses maintain or even generate a facilities program, an invaluable tool with which to quantify enormous portions of current and future operating budgets. And the process, though specialized, is grounded in common sense.
The interior architect develops a facilities program by investigating, inventorying, analyzing and documenting the facility needs of the tenant. This program defines and quantifies the requirements of the tenant currently and projected into the future. This is a comprehensive tally here from individual employee furnishings and equipment to drywall construction and beyond. The facilities program provides a model for assessing the most efficient use of existing space, evaluates alternate lease space opportunities and sets the overall office space criteria to be followed throughout the process.
The next step is the space plan developed in close collaboration with the tenant. This layout plan delineates the tenant's requirements and interior design based upon the program criteria and adapted to a building's specific lease space. The purpose is to create a business environment best suited to the tenant's objectives, including maximizing the potential assets of that space, like existing interior construction, for example. The goal here is to achieve the best value balance between cost of remodel, the amount of space required and the operational efficiency of the tenant's organization.
With this plan in place, the tenant interior architect then seeks out the best qualified contractors, suppliers and vendors for the job. The scope of real property construction is delineated and specified in the space plan for the general contractor's use in construction budgeting and pricing by telecommunications vendors.
Information gathered and analyzed from facilities program inventory and corporate standards determines the plan layout of office furnishings and equipment and quantifies potential new furnishings purchases for budget and bid purposes. The extent of existing furniture then can be assessed for pricing by qualified moving companies. These accumulated costs then form the project budget, while the concurrent succession of events firms up the project team assignments of the various , suppliers and vendors necessary to make the remodel or relocation a reality.
The tenant may also opt at this time to expand the interior architect's purview with extended "watchdog" services like coordinating and monitoring the ordering and installation of furniture,fixture and equipment, construction work, project schedules, and costs. Not all interior architects offer all these services, of course, and not all tenants are educated enough to know that such services even exist. But they do, and it should be of primary concern to the tenant to first decide upon the type of architect it will use, (landlord or tenant) and then seek a qualified candidate who can deliver a range of services with equal competence, whether administering first aid or conducting major surgery. MORE ON PROGRAMMING