How does your firm feel about "fan mail?"

Occasionally, I have run across projects on websites so spectacularly done — whether it's visually or spatially and sometimes a combination of the two — that I feel a comment on a website or blog just doesn't do the project any justice. But I am always apprehensive about emailing a firm directly, I think it might come off more as an annoyance rather than what it was intended.

Has anyone ever sent out congratulatory fan mail?

And this brings up another point.

Do any firms actively "market" a building by sending out newsletters regarding its construction? I think it might be a refreshing take on looking at a building if there was a stream of data coming from the architect regarding a project.

Sep 24, 12 10:39 am

Everybody loves compliments so by all means write away.


Sep 24, 12 11:16 am

So I actually do a bit of this stuff lately, and you bring up some interesting issues.

On the website or project stuff, honestly if we don't know you and aren't necessarily going to get anything out of the fact that you love our stuff (e.g. potential client, media, or event connections), then the way this can work the best is if you post on the firm's facebook page or tweet something with them tagged in it, so that you liking it gets people talking about it. 

On marketing, there are several ways that firms market projects. One of the big ones right now is through social media, because it gives the PR folks a constant stream of publishable information, and gives the friends/followers of the firm the feeling they're getting a "behind the scenes" look at things. Another is through contacting local media (curbed, patch, etc) that we know would be interested in a project. Another is sending out press releases at major milestones (project award, groundbreaking, etc). Some firms also publish in-construction photos and information on their blogs. And yet another method is through email newsletters to known contacts. If you are interested in receiving that type of newsletter, a firm should have a link on the 'contacts' page of their website for you to subscribe. Now, it's rare that any but the biggest firms will engage in ALL of these activities, because, well, they've got real work to do, but these are all things that firms use either in single or in some combination that may contain the sort of information you're talking about.

Sep 24, 12 12:06 pm

I know I posted a comment about a new project announced on a firm's, whose work I admire,  facebook page. The comment was just me expressing inquiry if they would be possibly conducting any site visits for the public during the construction phase. No less than 8 hours later, whoever moderates their page removed my comment without any reason why. I was 20% offended and 80% puzzled as to why.

Sep 24, 12 12:45 pm

i write other architects to congratulate them on their good work. not because i have any business reason to do so.

i usually will know the architect and want to encourage their best work when i see it!

why wouldn't we do this for each other? good grief, we all hear enough crappy comments about the profession and about work that is less good.

it's a hard business and there's not much positive reinforcement. let's give each other pats on the back when we do well! 

Sep 24, 12 12:58 pm

RandH, that sucks that there was no explanation, but you put them in a really bad position. Public site visits are really unusual, and you were creating an expectation in the rest of their followers of something they never offered and weren't prepared to deliver on. I'll clarify my previous position: if you actually know the people involved, email's great and it's just a part of your regular communication with each other, and email is also great for unreasonable demands because it can be ignored without consequence.

Sep 24, 12 1:04 pm

Sounds like the correct answer would have been something like "we'd love to but can't realistically do it from a liability/insurance point of view. Thank you for your interest in our work."

Sep 24, 12 1:21 pm

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