Bob Carlson

And that's why our process during programming, planning and early design includes one-on-one conversations, large group visioning sessions, user group interviews, design workshops, existing building tours, benchmarking of like facilities, and others. We’ll facilitate these activities, and we’ll lead the room, but it’s very much in service of conversing and listening. Our goal is to create a common language and points of reference between stakeholder groups and the design team. We want to work side by side with our clients to create a vision, define needs and create a platform where we can use our collective expertise to create outstanding, responsible and creative buildings.

Not every architect approaches design through listening. Some walk into the room on day one ready with all the ideas and answers ready to go. Not me. I love my firm in part because the people here share the belief that listening is one of the most important parts of design. In fact, our tagline begins with that word: listen.DESIGN.deliver. It comes first to reflect its importance in the process. And as a designer, I consider listening to be at the top of the list of things I aspire to be expert in doing.

3 Comments Post a Comment
  • 2 February 2015

    Richard Price

    Excellent summation Bob. I think today that lecturer would be considered an egotistical dinosaur. Asking 'open-ended' questions to get kids/students to think is a great thing... but asking detailed, specific, poignant questions of a clients' needs is much more effective. That might bring out some 'Big Goal' type of thoughts, to which all other decisions should be measured. The listen.DESIGN.deliver is not only an iterative process, but also demonstrates "quiet leadership". Not bully tactics! Thanks for sharing.

  • 3 February 2015

    Gary Worthy

    Thanks for sharing this Bob. Your thoughts are similar to an article on 'Communication' I recently read: Business is filled with what: What to execute, what to implement, what to say, and sometimes even what to feel. What's often missing is the why. Tell me what to do and I'll try to do it; tell me why, help me understand why, help me believe and make that why my mission too...and I'll run through proverbial brick walls to do the impossible. Managers stipulate. Outstanding leaders explain, and they listen--because the most effective communication involves way more listening than talking.

  • 3 February 2015

    Todd Bishop

    Really enjoy the culture of listen.DESIGN.deliver within our Firm as well. I've worked with those in our industry who insist that the client actually "design" the building and make all the decisions, not as your lecture did (with the intent to bully them into asking for his expertise) but a notion that the client is the owner and operator of the building and should therefore make all design decisions, in fact those same questions that your example alluded to but actually expecting them to make all of those decisions, what do you want it to look like, what material should we use, etc, etc... I view this as the opposite extreme, which is also risky and unhealthy. Owners lose confidence that we actually have value as designers and could ask, "why are we paying them if we are doing everything, making all the design decisions, solving all the problems?". I really like the design process in DLR Group and the collaboration with stake holders to understand the problem. And to your point, becoming a trusted advisor who is capable of listening, leading the client through the design process to understand their goals and aspirations and then providing expertise as a design firm to deliver a result that will "elevate the human experience". I'm excited for the chance to participate in the new method of sharing design and process on square 1. So much talent within our Firm and it will be great to participate in the online design share.