Interview Assignment

In one single spaced page for each one of the four topics, discuss your answers to the questions.


The first interview topic is MARKETING, the all-important task of actually getting work.  Interview your employer or another professional in your office.  If this is not possible, or the marketing effort is somehow limited, interview another architect (or other) in a similar position. If you can, include examples of the marketing materials used by the firm

1. Who does the marketing for the firm? How did he/she learn to do this?  [NOTE:  if the firm does no marketing, please interview another architect/designer/builder who is involved in marketing]. 

2. What does the firm define as “marketing,” anyway?

3. What materials and media are used in the marketing effort? Who prepares them?

4. Is the marketing effort the same for different types of projects? Clients?

5. Why or why not?  Give some examples.

6. Is there a “message” the marketing is trying to express? If so, what is it?  How was it developed?  By whom?  Why?

7. The American Institute of Architects develops print and television marketing/ads for the profession. Does your interviewee think this is a good idea?  Why or why not?

8. If advertising might bring in more work, would he/she consider using it? If not, why not?

9. In terms of an office budget, how significant is marketing?

10. How would you market a firm?


The second interview topic focuses on an important aspect of contemporary practice, CLIENT RELATIONS.  Getting along well with clients is not only a more pleasant way to do business, it may affect a firm’s financial well-being and lead to more satisfying (and more) projects.  As usual, interview your employer or another professional in the office who is able to speak about the topic.


1. What kinds of clients does the firm have?

2. How does the firm define “client relations”?

3. What kinds of activities are involved?

4. Who is tasked with primary responsibility for maintaining good client relations?  Why this person or persons?  Who else gets involved, if anyone?

5. What is an example of a situation where good client relations definitively and positively affected a project?  Explain how it did.

6. Is there an instance when client relations were not good, and this had an impact?  (Details are not necessary if this is a sensitive subject!)

7. Does the firm tend to rely on first-time clients or repeat business for its work?  What is the preference?  Why?

8. How much time is spent maintaining good client relations, as a percentage of a typical work week?

9. What costs are associated with this?  Be specific.

10. Is there a single piece of advice regarding clients and how to get along with them that might be shared?


The third interview topic is OFFICE BUDGETING, the process of calculating and allocating the various costs of running an architectural/design/construction practice.  Interview your employer or another professional in your office.  If this is not possible, interview another manager in a similar position. discuss the following:


1. Who does the budgeting in the office? Why is it this person’s responsibility?

2. What kinds of qualities/abilities/training are needed in order to do this work?

3. How critical is accurate, thorough budgeting to an office?

4. List the elements of the budget. Be as comprehensive as possible.

5. Explain “office overhead”. What does it include?  What proportion of the total is it?

6. How much of the budget do employee expenses consume? What are they?

7. How much profit can be expected, as a percentage of the total? Explain what profit is.  Where does it go, if there is any?

8. How profitable is architecture/design/construction as a business? Are certain kinds of practice more profitable than others?  If so, which types, for example?

9. When a project “loses money”, just what does that mean? How does the office compensate for such a loss?

10. How much of one’s time in a “typical” week is spent on office budgeting issues, for the person doing the budgeting?


The last interview topic of the quarter is a PROJECT SITE VISIT.  First, select a project currently under construction.  Next, study the drawings—design materials, CD’s, etc. as available and talk to people in the office involved in the project. Then arrange to visit the jobsite.  Describe what you saw.  Include in your paper photos, field sketches or other graphics that help explain the work.  NOTE:  if your office does not have projects under construction, or a jobsite visit is not feasible for some reason, you still must select a project from another office and document that site visit. Discuss the following:


1. A brief description of the project (“what”, “where” and “how much”).

2. The project’s progress (what % complete is it?).

3. Major trades on site currently (framing, mechanical, etc.).

4. Construction schedule (on schedule?  Behind?  Why?).

5. Some unusual aspect of the project (difficult site, unforeseen site conditions, etc.).

6. The delivery method (design/bid/build, design-build, turnkey, etc.).

7. How the built work differs from the design and from the CD’s.

8. Sustainable aspects or strategies and the LEED rating level, if applicable.

9. The architect’s/designer’s/builder’s construction administration work commitment (number of personnel, hours per week, frequency of site visits, etc.). If you work in a non-architectural office, discuss the work commitment during construction.

10. What the firm would do differently, in hindsight, if anything.

11. If you worked on the project, be sure to describe what you did!

12. Graphic material may expand the length of the paper.  The typed portion itself should be 1 page single spaced.