The Project Trinity

Mar 13, 2017 | blog | Written by: Jay Frisco


Recently, I’ve been contemplating some things regarding architectural projects’ relationships - the successes, failures, and the day to day issues occurring. Now keep in mind, architecture is a difficult profession. Some will argue not necessarily more or less difficult than others, others would argue the exact opposite. Those are debates for another discussion. In reality, Architects just as others, are trained professionals with a certain set of skills that work in a particular industry to accomplish the ultimate goal - shaping the built environment. And, like most professions, there are others relied upon to make the outcome of the profession successful.

Boiling a whole series of thoughts down to the most simple form, the one thing that I always seemed to come back to is simple: the actual relationship, or relationships in a project setting. Those, essentially, are critical to the success or failure of any project. Those relationships can be further broken down to the three main relationships (usually) in any project: the client, the architect, and the contractor. So I began looking at the relationship dynamic and realized a commonality there that could really be put in terms of something we in south Louisiana all know well, food. More specifically, a particular component of food recipes - the trinity.

Now a reminder, or for those that may not know, a trinity in cooking is simply a three base ingredients that starts off any recipe. Here we tend to use onions, bell peppers, and celery for many dishes. In other dishes you might use a mirepoix (onions, carrots and celery), or if you’re Italian, like my grandmother, the ever popular tomatoes, garlic and basil in a soffritto.

So, you’re all hungry? Well, let’s relate this back to architecture and what I would call the architectural trinity. In the spirit of relationships, a project’s trinity are those individuals mentioned above, the client, the architect, and the contractor. Without either one, the project is probably not going to happen. More importantly, the health and strength of the relationship between all three will be the calling card for a project’s success, just as the quality of the ingredients in a recipe form the basis for some awesome eating.

The architectural trinity is not just about having contractual relationships or that there’s a relationship due to necessity.
Sure, those exist on the surface. What I’m really talking about here is something that often gets lost in the overall project process. I’m talking about the true nature of making each other successful and understanding each other's goals and needs. At Abell Crozier Davis Architects, one of our core values is to “ Build Genuine and Open Relationships”. I like to think that transcends itself throughout the project delivery process to all parties beyond just our contractual obligations and allow us to create a synergy in each project, thus creating another core value we have: being "Together".

So great! I’m spouting a value and an idea, but what does that really mean. Well, honestly it means a continuing evolution through the project to grow with each other, support each other, and really understand each other. Each has contractual obligations. Each relies on the other. Each have tasks that affect the others and some that are solely their responsibility. To truly build on the core values mentioned and make the project trinity a success each must support and assist the other. That doesn’t just mean a hearty pat on the back or an “atta boy” in the local paper or meeting. It, also, certainly doesn’t mean calling each other out on things that aren’t done or in someone’s contract to do. It’s beyond that. It is the trinity’s responsibility to work together as best they can to ensure each other's, and the project’s, success. Each must coach the other, work with the other, make each other understand the scopes, the processes, and work as a true team to everyone’s benefit and growth. This may sometimes mean going above and beyond one’s normal scope, sometimes putting people in the middle of uncomfortable and difficult, yet respectful, conversations. It may mean taking on a bit more risk or liability to which each must consult their own situations, intentions, and probably legal counsels, on the best course of action. The contractual relationships and legalities, sometimes, automatically put each team member at odds with one another. Work beyond those odds to know and understand that the architectural trinity, no, wait, let’s make that the Project’s Trinity, is in this together for the success of the project and the success of each other. Because, all in all, if you start out with your project’s recipe and find out that your onion is rotten you’re probably not going to have a good finished product.

Happy Designing (and Eating)!


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