How to find your commercial building architect?

How to find your commercial building architect?

When it comes to finding and working with a commercial architect, many business owners feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. But don’t worry, whether you are looking to design offices, retail space, entire shopping centers or renovations to your current office, we’re here to help.

Finding the right talent is critical to your project success. Do you need a creative artistic talent or a technical wizard? Do you need support getting through planning, zoning or code issues. Maybe you need a common sense force to represent you in the construction phase.

This article outlines some of the critical factors to consider when finding and choosing a suitable architect to undertake the design of your commercial space. Their input in creating meaningful commercial architecture can transform the future of your business.

What are commercial Architects?

A commercial architect designs buildings which are specifically suited to a commercial or business environment, ensuring that the aesthetic and operational criteria of commercial buildings are met. The impact of commercial architects on the built environment is significant and can be seen in cities around the world. Looking around you are sure to find examples of structures in your own community designed by commercial architects.

The definition of “commercial architecture” includes several building typologies such as: offices, factories, warehouses, shopping centers and even hospitals, each with their own set of unique requirements and considerations which your architect should consider. Appointing a design team consisting of experienced architects for your commercial building project ensures that all aspects of your project, from the simplest structural requirements to the detailed specifications, are tailored to the needs of your business and company clients.

Finding Commercial Architects.

Finding an architect for your commercial project should be an easy process as most architects rely on word of mouth, websites and a strong social media presence to reach their clients. The challenging part is to find someone with the right knowledge and experience to enhance your project and meet your specific needs.

Factors to consider:

  1. Location:

Context is an important consideration for finding someone to design your commercial projects as the needs of buildings typically differ depending on their geographic location. Choosing a local firm means a better initial understanding of the site, and makes the architects work easier when compiling site reports and inspections which result in a better quality end product.

  1. Type of commercial building:

Determine the type of commercial building you want to create to suit your specific needs. Commercial architecture includes a wide range of typologies including Office spaces, hospitals, government buildings and retail space. These are often also combined in mixed use development and it is important that the architect you are looking for has the required knowledge to assist with your specific building needs.

  1. Scope of works:

Commercial architecture can be divided into 5 typical work stages namely: Schematic Design, Design Development, Contract Documents, Bidding and Contract Administration. Although it is advised to have a commercial architect oversee all these stages, firms often do not offer full services or do not specialize in overseeing all the work stages. At level you have access to a team of commercial architects that can oversee your project through all of the stages. This can be a major benefit for example when additional detailed drawings are required during the construction phase or when it comes to selecting contractors and managing their contracts.

  1. Scale

The scale of the project may require more than one building professional, with teams for larger projects consisting of several Architects and Engineers. When looking for commercial architects consider whether they are willing to collaborate and have a network of engineers and contractors which will help guarantee success in your projects. Hiring a firm that offers several services in house can be a major benefit and help prevent costly miscommunications.

  1. Feasibility

An important part of any project is conducting feasibility studies to determine whether your commercial building project will benefit your business or asset portfolio in the short, medium and long term. An architect with experience in commercial architecture can assist with this by providing industry knowledge and expertise.

Choosing a Commercial Architect

Your company’s commercial spaces can be a reflection of its values and business processes. There will likely be a range of feasible candidates and your next step will be choosing an architect whose values align with your own, and will take the time to understand your project and team requirements. Larger firms are often more focused on quick project turnover, while smaller firms will take time to understand your specific needs and offer more customized solutions to your commercial space. Below are some questions to consider when making your choice:

  1. Do you need a Commercial Architect?

In short the answer is yes. When it comes to designing your commercial space, you might feel that it is easier to do it yourself, however architects provide knowledge and expertise that ensure your projects immediate and future needs are easily satisfied and can assist in staying with your design concept and project budget.

  1. How should you know what you need in your commercial space?

By including you as the client in the design process from concept design to construction, we are able to determine the client’s needs, and adapt the design as the process unfolds. It can often be a daunting task to determine what your architectural needs entail, especially if you are a first time developer or have little experience with architectural projects. When choosing your architect, ensure they are willing to include you or your team in the process. Discuss your needs up front and develop a good basis for communication from the start.

  1. How can you be sure of their abilities:

An architect that has experience designing similar buildings or commercial spaces will allow quicker, more informed decision making and offer insight into your design requirements. Level boasts a team of experienced architects and designers with a proven track record to ensure the best possible outcome for your project.

  1. Are they qualified to to the job:

Commercial architects require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in architecture from a university or college program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. Remember to also check that they hold a state license and are licensed to practice within your jurisdiction.

  1. What other services can commercial architects offer:

Commercial projects can include complex arrangements of occupancies. As a result Energy offers a wide range of services, with design teams made up of members with varying skill sets, such as planning, technical drawing, structures, electrical work, construction and contract management.

  1. What about other professionals

An architect is typically also responsible for coordinating the several other specialist services such as interior design, electrical work, exterior or facade design and all Engineering services with the aim to create functional commercial spaces that suit you and your business’ needs while simplifying the construction phase by providing coordinated drawings to contractors.

Architects for commercial buildings


Commercial architecture typically consists of a variety of different occupancies, often contained within a single building. Architects have various tools and techniques focused on giving the client a clear understanding of their designs as they progress and ensuring that all information available to the Architect is translated into the design. This ensures that the design intent will follow through to the construction phase and create a functional building in the real world.

At Energy, diagrammatic planning, scale models, technical drawings and other design tools are used to ensure that the commercial architecture meets your specific design requirements and that your commercial buildings are customized to the needs of your businesses.

Architects for commercial projects

Making the right choice

When searching for an architect for your commercial project, your talent requirements will vary. Whether you’re a sophisticated developer or it’s your first commercial project, finding the right talent is critical to your project success.

Architecture is complex and so is the talent pool. Do you need a creative artistic talent or a technical wizard to get you through planning, zoning or code issues. Maybe you need a common sense force to represent you in the construction phase. We can help. We listen first, then match you with one or multiple talents across the country to get your needs met

Hiring a commercial architect gives you the best chance at success on your commercial architecture project. When you hire Level, you are working with someone directly interested in your project’s success because it equates to success for us. Larger companies may ask how fast we can do things, at level we instead ask how to best help you help your clients.

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Picture of Scott Zurn, P.E.

Scott Zurn, P.E.

Founder and CEO of Level Engineering & Level Design Partners. With more than 4 decades of experience, Scott Zurn has contributed to all aspects of the building industry, serving both public and private sectors. He’s achieved tremendous success in commercial and residential markets, held leadership roles such as building official, city engineer, and director for local governments, and accomplished hundreds of millions of dollars in successful commercial building and civil infrastructure as a designer, project manager, and leader. As the Founder of the Level brand, Scott is dedicated to ensuring the entrepreneurial success of design professionals, as well as creating positive environmental impacts through design work. Read Scott’s full bio here.

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