Extent of client input on Starchitect work


Is there any literature or documentation on how much client input affects the development of projects designed by famous brand name Architects?  Do Starchitects deal with the same mind-numbing chaos of client management that 'regular' Architects deal with, or do Clients that hire these firms just let them do their thing since they are paying (supposedly) a premium for their work/brand?

Oct 18, 15 7:38 am
Olaf Design Ninja_

from school professor stories,lectures by project architects for starchitects, and multiple jobs, the personal stories and involvement indicates that for the most part they have the same headaches with one exception - the client after they have criticized everything and beat the numbers up always ask "but what does ________ think?". in other words they want the name to sign off on it or they will not go ahead with their decision. also, if the starchitect stomps their foot on one item hard enough the client will bend over backwards(as that is what is usually involves in those situations).....on archinect an article about Bjarke, recent and pretty good one documents part of this process pretty well.

Oct 18, 15 9:28 am

The biggest difference is between working for a committee and working for an individual, and sometimes the committee is just a front for the real power.

The tendency to roll over for a starchitect is balanced by the desire to go head to head with a big ego. On the flip side, most architects will gladly kneel down, bend over, etc. for the commission.

But for the most part if you're hiring a starchitect you're not doing it for architecture.

Oct 18, 15 11:28 am

Think Miles has it right; also, in terms winning arguments, most starchitect’s have the financial ability to “walk”.

Oct 18, 15 2:52 pm
Olaf Design Ninja_

A.I. (avoiding work) here is the link i was thinking of, it also mentions Libeskind quickly as it relates to clients as well

Oct 18, 15 4:39 pm

Good stuff

Oct 18, 15 6:29 pm

The tendency to roll over for a starchitect is balanced by the desire to go head to head with a big ego


It's the worthy adversary thing - big egos like battling with other big egos - the thing with architecture is that we do eventually let them "win" - but if you're attracted to the fight you're going to seek out architects who can put up a good one.

Oct 18, 15 8:23 pm

I can't point you toward any statistics or literature about this, but anecdotally from my experience:  the client's influence is more extensive on the starchitect's work than the everyday-client's influence is on the lower-budget projects at anonymi-tect firms. The starchitect's projects can have many more iterations than the average client-involved undertaking because the starchitects' clients can afford to stop everything and start over more times, and to indulge their more extravagant visions.  

The eventually-built end product may be the 17th iteration - and you'll never see 1 through 16 so you'll never know how much or how little resemblance the final building bears to the starting point.   There is a certain well-known glassy minimalist flagship headquarters type project that I worked on that first went through a Gaudi phase, then a Gehry phase, then a gothic phase, all at the client's prodding, before the client landed on and stuck with "something painterly, high tech, and a little bit Japanese."

Ever seen that episode of "The Brady Bunch" in which the client first tells Mike Brady that he's absolutely free to apply his wondrous talent to design her a factory? But then she says "no, no, no" to everything he sketches, and insists that he design a factory that looks like a fluffy pink powderpuff with a roof that unfolds?  That's really not too far off from the client-starchitect interactions I've witnessed and survived.

Oct 18, 15 8:57 pm

From my experience it’s a matter of selling your design, if you’re not good at it be prepared to draw…and most starchitects have the silver-tongue coupled with a consistent design pattern…just using Meir as an example…clients can have any color they want, so long as it’s white.

Oct 18, 15 9:35 pm
Olaf Design Ninja_

was going to suggest researching letters between Frank Lloyd Wright and clients, or Mies van der Rohe, etc...

but this is about contemporary Startchitecture, right?  in that case, it's a direct link between marketing and media and the architect.  so in a way, if you're going to put the startchitects stamp on the project, the startchitect should probably approve of it right?  and as someone noted above,unlike most of us, the starchitect probably has the funds to walk away if they don't want to put their stamp on it.

Oct 18, 15 10:02 pm
Olaf Design Ninja_

/\ so maybe look at projects that started off with startchitects and ended differently, like say Freedom Tower (Libeskind to SOM), etc...

Oct 18, 15 10:03 pm

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