I have been called a “true visionary,” which is a wonderful complement, but it got me thinking about what that word actually means.
It is in my nature to look at the big picture. I’ve always surveyed was going on around me with an eye toward how to possibly improve upon it. While working for other companies I would think of ways to streamline procedures, and I’ve had my own office peer reviewed--audited by other businesses and architectural firms to identify ways in which we could modernize our business management, staff procedures and design capabilities. I rested easy to hear our hired responses express praise for our business model, which focuses on having the administrative backup to track and take on adventuresome projects. To think out of the box you must be flexible!
I’d like to share a few stories about JHAI clients to illustrate.
I am currently working on a proposal for an urban planning project involving MTA and Caltrans. When the Caltrans director said it was the best idea they have heard in 20 years and noted, “You are thinking way out of the box,” I felt especially motivated. I submitted an unsolicited bid for a grant from MTA to help pay for the creation of some presentation flythrough imaging of the design and concepts I developed. However, the idea was too vast and not closely tied enough to the specifics of the grant requirements. (City planning can be fun. The politics behind it can be very complicated and time consuming.) Thus, I am still studying how to move a huge, $75 billion project forward. This is what occurs when you are a “visionary”!
I remember one experience on a job site. I was taking in the site, envisioning what could be built, where and how, in front of a potential client and his team. At the end of the meeting, the Owners commented that I must love what I do. They all said the same thing: “Your eyes were always scanning the site. You were drooling with excitement. Your energy is contagious.” It seems that none of the other reviewers had, they said, come up with a tenth of the options that I did.
While on another prospective project in Malibu, the clients led me through their three-story home full of art that they had collected from all over the world. Their architect was on vacation at the time and they wanted a second opinion on the work. Walking the property, I freely threw out numerous ideas on how to modernize and remodel the home. Offering up multiple ideas is my usual practice at a first walk-through. In this case, I was in my zone, even as I knew that this client had worked with famous architects all over the world. In the end, I got the custom project and subsequently many others with this client. When I asked why they were hiring me, seeing as they had access to many accomplished architects, they said it was because those architects needed a month or so to come up with just one idea for each scoping issue, while I came up with 10-plus options at that first visit. I didn’t hold back—I shared my visions.
I will end with one more story. I had been working with a major producer for many years. One day we met up to discuss the many glazed lobbies on his 700,000 square-foot pre/post production facility. The lobbies were very large (50 X 80 ft), unobstructed spaces featuring glass walls and open stairs leading to the second floor. I asked why he did not just turn parts of the space into glazed conference rooms to lease on an as-needed basis. My client wondered why, in all the years he had owned the facility, no one had mentioned this easy option. I could not answer that. I just said it would add a lot of income for him, that by using three identical lobbies it could be an inexpensive project and that permitting would be very easy. There was no reason not to do it.
So, if seeing a lot of options fast is being a visionary, then I guess that is what I am. And after xx years of looking at prospective projects, I am not shy about sharing those visions.