can’t get there from here

Posted: September 6, 2019 in Fridge Note, Humanity is a virus, It's not the heat, it's the humanity, Shovels

 

on the last post, I mentioned that today, I had a building walk-through in review for an RFP that is upcoming.  Keep in mind that I do not often respond to Requests for Proposals, which are often sent out in shotgun fashion to any architect that shows up in the first 20, or 30, or 40 Google search results.  The last couple that came in through the mojo wire I read and passed, and the last one I started considering, I abandoned when the structural engineer I called had already heard (and passed) on two other architects who had already called him.  So really, the only reason I went further on this one is that it’s in my neighborhood and Young Zombie attended a preschool that was in the building previously.  Also, it’s a progressive Episcopalian church, so I figured they wouldn’t set me on fire.

One of the things about my practice is that I get very little work from marketing kind of avenues; most of my projects come from referrals or repeat clients.  In fact, I have one client that I have designed a residence for three times (one small colonial house on the East Side, an extensive and exotic rooftop penthouse condo downtown, and a suburban estate, FWIW).

I once read that Frank Lloyd Wright sometimes said he was never the committee choice, he was usually too risky and committees are notoriously risk-averse.

So I gathered with six other groups in this complex of buildings to review the existing.  In no particular order, and with an approximate employee number:  ZDG (100); UWRS (40); Groth (30); MSI (150); PRA (75); QA (10); and me.  It is a relatively small community in the city, and I had met several of the professionals there and knew all of the companies by reputation (and interviewed at most of them at one time or another!).  And, in a turn that I fully expected, my former partner also turned up.  Am I a bad zombie for having kind of perverse satisfaction in seeing her on crutches due to a fall from her bike?

The big difference between my practice and all of theirs is that they have a marketing plan and spend some amount of money and effort on pursuing these type of cattle-call long shot proposals.  I spend my time and effort into my work and design, and my reputation is based on that, not on glad-handing.  Oh, I am perfectly congenial and can handle a professional gathering with complete equanimity, and I made small talk as appropriate and made other professional small talk during the 3 hours or so we were on site.

And I have made contact with other professionals to team up with on the project:  a structural engineer, HVAC engineer, Plumbing engineer, and Electrical engineer.  Ostensibly, the proposals are due on 9/27, which is no problem at all, at least conceptually.

But the gathering and walk through went pretty much as I expected.  The building is an older worship building, with a couple of additions and remodeling over time.  The staff involved in the building were a bit negative on it, but having been through these rodeos many times, the building’s basic elements are predominantly intact and there is nothing that amounts to a deal breaker that makes any part of the building unusable.  If anything, their biggest problem is that there is far more space than they need, and it should be reduced or sourced out to tenants.  Actually, it’s a very handsome building and I would be gratified to help the parish move into a new era and fresh life for the structure.

aerial

But that’s really neither here nor there.  As I walked home – it was a truly gorgeous fall day in Milwaukee, and like I said I live in the neighborhood, I live 6 blocks away- I thought further about the walk-through and the other people who participated.  And I started to consider Wright’s words; what is the value of the work I will need to do to compile a responsive proposal?  When there are bigger name heavy hitters in the mix?  Does it matter that I am a neighbor?  (probably not).  By the time I got home, I was ready to skip it altogether, but there was a message from the mechanical engineer….

So here’s one where I am not hoping for help from you helpful 3 or 4 faithful readers.  Mind you, I won’t mind feedback or opinions, but you lot are an opinionated bunch of fuckers. 

Because I have decided, for any number of reasons, to follow this one through.  I’ll go against these bigger more corporate firms who have ‘name recognition’ and ‘connections’.  I won’t say ‘more established’, because one of the attendees was my former partner whose firm I was a founding partner of.  Yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition here’s your fucking refund.

But I will go in because this is a step up and forward, and I can use it.  Plus, I need these bigger firms to KNOW WHO I AM.  Last night, my concert going buddy asked me if I wasn’t well known by the quality of my work and I had to give him the knowledge that that is hardly ever considered in consideration for hiring of architects.

So I am in.  I am drafting, in my mind, the rudiments of the proposal and I am working out some ways of throwing shade in a backhanded way at the larger firms (for instance, with my ex-partner in the mix, my resume instantly changed to say I was a Founding Partner in Charge of Design at the firm she took control of).  My references will be stellar, because they are all personal and direct connections with people of high stature in the community.  My track list of similar projects will be impressive, but won’t be the most impressive; however based on the walk through, I can directly relate parts of them to portions of the building they would like to address; and a Marketing Person in one of these firms will not be able to see that.  I did that on site in one instance, asking a question of the rector about the character of window leaks because I had experienced similar problems with a steel lintel that leaked into the windows in a particular way.

I am in.  I would, indeed, like to expand my practice.  I think I have learned some good and bad things in my history, and think I could grow it better and be a much better leader and administrator going forward.  And even if that isn’t in the cards, being a believable competitor among the Big Boys of the local community will be worthwhile in itself; I have proven myself from a practical standpoint as well as having received several design awards.

I second guessed myself on this, and then reconsidered, then shot it down again and then talked myself back into it.  Yes, I have a very active internal life, and AT LEAST a dozen voices that will chime in to argue at a moment’s notice.  But, for now, I AM IN.

SHUT UP VOICE  # 5.

Comments
  1. Also to be noted: While I am waiting on the much backed up State review to complete several projects, I am working on a proposal for another conversion of an old church, and need a proposal for a second floor attached to a brew pub and one for a small remodeling to a historic house in Brewer’s Hill. One of the advantages is that I can do bigger projects and still make smaller projects also be profitable. Also, just finished a first for me: reconstruction documents for a fire damaged structure.

  2. Just walk in there, all like:

    Somewhere near the end it said
    “You can’t do this”, I said “I can”
    Let me show you what I can do with it

    I have every confidence in you.

  3. Mikey Hemlok says:

    I miss working sometimes. I always enjoyed the solving problems and the frantic pace to meet deadlines, and figuring out how to do something that had never been done before.

    You can complain when you need to, but don’t forget you’re going to miss it when it’s gone…

  4. just based on a head count of attendees, I have about a 7.5% chance of landing it.

    • OBS says:

      Assuming those attendees all put in proposals, but maybe some of them didn’t because they were intimidated by *you*!

      Anyway, good luck, hope you get it.

Go ahead, tell me how I fucked up this time.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.