There are two major decisions that a practice has to make before deciding to enter any kind of competition. They are: Is the competition any good? And, is the competition appropriate? In other words, should anybody enter this competition? And, is the competition right for us?
Alongside this is the question of how practices find out about contests and evaluate them. The previous section discussed ways of becoming aware of competitions and invitations to bid before they are launched. While that is invaluable, it is still necessary to know exactly when the invitations are issued, and to appraise them in terms of the practice’s criteria. But first one needs to know what those criteria are.
Probably no competitions exist that nobody should enter at all, since occasionally there are some unconventional reasons for submitting an entry. But there are certainly some of which most practices should be wary.
Assembling the team
Many design competitions and invitations to tender only ask for submissions from a single architectural practice. But there are others where the architect is asked to assemble a team, or where a team is asked to bid together. In this case, assembling the team will be crucial, and there are other things to consider when joining with others —beyond personal liking and admiration for their competence.
In other circumstances it may either be necessary (as a stipulation of the bid) or desirable for different practices to work together. A classic example in the area of landscape architecture was the design of the Olympic Park, for which the successful team of LDA Design. Hargreaves Associates was put together as a result of the client, the ODA, stipulating that there must be an international practice involved. The young garden designer Sarah Price was also involved, again as a result of a stipulation that there needed to be a young practice involved.
This was not a forced marriage — they all worked together brilliantly — and it is essential when assembling such teams that all members are happy to be there. They also had complementary skills and experience and that is of equal importance.
Another area where architects may be collaborating is as part of a contractor-led team — usually invited to be part of the team, although they will need to have positioned themselves in order to receive the invitation.
Look out for a new extract from the report next week on putting yourself in your clients shoes.