Let us now praise 'Dream Clients'

August 11, 2010

At Building Design+Construction, we're constantly stressing the importance of the whole Building Team—not just the architects, engineers, and contractors, but the property owners and developers who initiate and finance projects as well. Our special report this month salutes 15 such “Dream Clients.”

“Trust and respect” are major themes cited by AEC firms for nominating their Dream Clients. Sometimes that's as simple as having clients who respond to RFIs in timely fashion. Clark Nexsen lauds the University of North Carolina Wilmington for providing “quick answers when needed.”

Sometimes respect is shown in more tangible ways. “They pay on time” was cited by several AEC firms in their nomination, and while it sounds trivial, paying on time is clearly an expression of trust. Some Dream Clients go even further: Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District speeded up payments to Gafcon Inc. to 23 days, instead of the usual 45-60.

Over and over, AEC firms stressed trust and respect as the cornerstone of their relationship with Dream Clients: “respect our time and opinions” (HKS, referring to client Texas Scottish Rite Hospital); “respect the work of professional consultants” (RNL, on Sorouh Real Estate Investments); “consistently honest and fair” (SmithGroup, on Michigan Technological University).

Dream Clients also encourage new ideas from their AEC partners. Al Burghard of BDG Architects, Menifee, Calif., praised client Ed Anderson, founder of Medical Real Estate, for being “very receptive to new ideas” and encouraging out-of-the-box thinking. Likewise, Henry Smith-Miller, of Smith-Miller+Hawkinson Architects, lauded GSA Border Station Center director Gianne Conrad for giving younger, smaller A/E firms the chance to employ “cutting-edge design philosophies” and “innovative construction methodologies” on “highly visible public works.”

Another quality that makes Dream Clients stand out is the “little courtesies” they do for their partners. When CUH2A won a “Lab of the Year” honor from R&D Magazine, Dr. Julie Gerberling, director of the Centers for Disease Control, wrote a personal note congratulating the team. You can bet that missive got passed around.

Dream Client Arizona Biomedical Center has gone out of its way to recommend SmithGroup to other potential clients; for Clark Nexsen, such referrals from client UNC Wilmington has resulted in new business.

And how nice is this: Cheryl Herbert, the president of Dublin (Ohio) Methodist Hospital, goes so far as to have her staff critique Karlsberger's proposals—for other clients?

Finally, AEC firms respect clients who push them to higher levels of excellence. William Beaumont Hospitals has given Harley Ellis Devereaux “new challenges” to “explore its capabilities” and “develop its own unique expertise” in healthcare. Dublin Methodist consistently “raises the bar” for Karlsberger. Johns Hopkins Hospitals' staff are “demanding” but always “gracious,” as they encourage Francis Cauffman Foley Hoffman Architects to help them fulfill JHH's mission to be “the best of the best.”

Turn to page 25 to learn more about these and other Dream Clients.


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