Depending on the type of business you own or operate, you may want to contact an architect during your space search and lease negotiation.
If you are a large office tenant, you will likely want to meet with an architect early in your process because you want to make sure you have a list of all of the key requirements you must satisfy for your employee and customer needs. These necessities may include private offices, workstations, conference rooms, breakrooms, network closets, fitness facilities, parking lots and more.
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In addition, you will want to do your best to project growth or shrinkage in these requirements over the course of 3 to 7 years. If you are a retail business, such as a restaurant or entertainment establishment, you may want to hold off on contacting an architect until you find a space you want to pursue. In this scenario, you will rely heavily on your architect to help determine how to remodel a space into one that is designed and will function according to your expectations and goals. This type of design tends to be very specific to the space itself and is not as general as the office requirements described above.
Before contacting an architect, research them thoroughly. Different firms and different architects have unique areas of specialization, and they also have different communication styles. You will want to find one that meets your specific needs and is willing to work within the parameters of your project.