We believe we have developed the best Town Architect method ever used on all except projects with the highest-profile architects. On those projects, the conventional review by a resident Town Architect is still the best method because of the enormous pressure brought to bear by architects of great fame. But for most projects involving either local architects or draftsmen, this system is unparalleled. Other Town Architect systems produce compliance at best. Our system goes beyond mere compliance, and can become a major building block in the creation of a living tradition.
Most plan reviews for traditional neighborhoods are done remotely, but one of the benefits of our method is that it is done locally. We visit the site every month (or as otherwise arranged). Site meetings include the Developer, the contractor and the architect or designer of the plans being reviewed. We perform the actual review sitting at the table with them, explaining why we are marking particular items, transmitting principles, not just particular errors. If they have a serious problem with an item, we work out alternative details because there is almost always more than one right way of doing things. This results not only in a much smoother process, but also in one where the contractors and designers quickly become much better informed on how to design and build traditional architecture. Our system has a strong track record of transforming designers with little or no architectural education into competent designers of traditional architecture.
Our reviews address only the physical design issues that contribute to buildings acting as good neighbors in a community. Our reviews specifically do not address structural or other engineering issues, fire code, life safety code, or any other such issues that would typically be regulated by local building or fire officials. Your architects and engineers should address those issues. Town Architects who only address aesthetic issues rather than issues of engineering and code compliance might seem superfluous at first, but it is precisely the beauty and neighborliness of a place, and how it fits into a living tradition, that have the greatest effect on how your prospects value the buildings they are buying. This difference in valuation can total tens of millions of dollars over the life of the development of a single neighborhood, or hundreds of millions of dollars (or more) over the life of the development of a village or town.
We suggest a minimum of 3 reviews per plan, at the schematic design, design development and construction document phases. Plans may have to be resubmitted for additional reviews in some instances where there are major issues. The Office Review Fee is higher than the On-Site Review Fee for two reasons. First, Office Reviews require additional time to write down the principles rather than describe them verbally, plus costs for shipping plans and other documents. Second, we try hard to encourage On-Site Reviews for several reasons, including the fact that your designers get much faster service at On-Site Reviews and are much more likely to be happy as a result. Also, the designer learns very little with plans that are remotely marked up, whereas they learn a lot sitting down across the table from the reviewer.
We offer our Town Architect services at two levels of engagement. Some Town Founders prefer to engage us on a limited basis (usually one year) during which time we train a younger architect who will become the long-term resident Town Architect of the place. The long-term Town Architect candidate should have an appropriate educational background, which is comprised either of an architectural degree from one of the few schools (Andrews, Miami, Notre Dame, etc.) that teach traditional architecture, or an architectural degree from any other accredited school supplemented by a series of courses in traditional architecture from the Institute of Classical Architecture/Classical America. The long-term Town Architect candidate should also have completed a one-day intensive training session put on periodically by The Guild Foundation at the University of Miami and Notre Dame University.
Other Town Founders prefer to engage us on a long-term basis, which may extend to the entire life of the project. One of the hallmarks of places with living traditions is greatly escalated property value. Because the difference in property value can amount to tens of millions of dollars or more, it makes sense for the Town Architect to have a stake in the development. Because demand for our method is so high, we have developed a mutually beneficial technique for selecting which developments to sign on with for Town Architect services on a long-term basis. We ask for a mutually agreed-upon Signing Bonus Lot in the neighborhood for which we are to perform Town Architect services to be delivered 12 months after the first house is occupied or 12 months after we sign on with you, whichever is later. All normal build-out time limits apply beginning at closing. The lot can be small, and does not have to be in a prime location in the neighborhood. We know that if we do our job, all lots in your neighborhood will appreciate substantially, and this method makes our commitment to the value of the place you are building obvious and solid.
Please email us to discuss your Town Architect needs, or call us at 786-276-6000.