Thursday, September 1, 2011

how to select a great architect for your mid-century modern remodel

Well, I wish I could discuss the research I did, questions I asked, and extensive selection process I engaged in to pick the architect for our low six figure project. I essentially did it with personal references. I talked to two friends I trusted who both had remodels done recently and who were both happy. Both of their architects had a modern aesthetic and I liked the architects' work. Architect #1 was easy to schedule, came over with a portfolio, a CV, a flyer and references. Architect #2 came over with nothing and was challenging to schedule. Architect #1 returned a proposal quickly. Architect #2 took a week or two to return a proposal. Architect #1 had a cheaper hourly rate and Architect #2 was higher (but not crazy higher). Architect #1 specializes in and has a passion for Mid-Century Moderns (our house has vaguely Neutra-esque qualities and was built in 1955). Architect #2 lives in Irvine Terrace (our housing tract) and also built another show stopper in Irvine Terrace, meaning he is intimate with our HOA. Tough choice.

Neutra: Mariners Medical Center
Newport Beach, CA

All that being said, I went with Architect #1. I would say "we," except my husband wasn't involved in the decision at all. Ultimately, we have been pleased with our architect's communication, responsiveness, ideas, design, style and aesthetics. But, one thing, in hind site, I didn't know to ask during architect "interviews" was about work processes. The Architect we chose does exacting hand drawings and doesn't use a computer for design (except for email, thank heavens). I am curious if the other Architect would have used software (he was about 15 years younger). With some automation in the drawing process, I'm sure the costs and elapse time would have been shorter. From architect engagement to approved plans was five months. Another two months passed before we got the plans to the contractors. Seven months total which wasn't unreasonable (or unexpected). In addition, our project was bigger when we started and as we talked to the architect we narrowed the scope to focus on the bathrooms, the heater, and the interior courtyard.

In hindsight, this article would have been helpful from Washington D.C. American Institute of Architects: Interviewing an Architect. This article is good as well, and mentions asking about software (duh): How to Choose an Architect. I like this too: Top 10 Questions to Ask When Interviewing an Architect.


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  2. Hi! I'm getting ready to remodel my mid century house in Long Beach and I was wondering if I could possibly get the name of that Architect? :)

    p.s. I'm enjoying your blog very much, it's giving me an idea of what I'm in for because I'm also planing on adding a bathroom.

    1. Thank you so much. I would be happy to send you his name, just send an email to


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