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What would you buy?

In the wake of the recent record setting MegaMillions lottery mania I was struck by a notion that turned the architectural process on its head. Perhaps the most critical factor (and this is seemingly obvious) at the start of any project is budget. Clients are right to ask the questions:

  • How much do I want to afford (different from what can I afford)?
  • What can I build for my budget?
  • What will it be worth?

These questions apply not only to what to build but where to build it. And there are a cascade of related and interdependent life and lifestyle questions that need to be asked and answered. There is no formula – every project is different, and the client should depend on their Architect to guide them through this critical determinant stage. Architects bear a very tangible responsibility of balancing dreams and reality for their client. It is  vital that we push the imagination but devastating if the solution is too expensive.

But it is so easy to get so caught up in monetary issues that the project never realizes its potential. And by potential I mean, the most satisfying long term solution for living not without over-valuing the cost factor. So how does a $650,000,000 jackpot change the equation? As this lottery ballooned, I was inclined to ask everyone I met two questions: first, did you buy a lottery ticket (the answer was invariably yes) and second, if you win the 600 plus million dollars, where would you move? It seems a fair assumption that anyone with a newfound few hundred million dollars would likely leave their present home. If money is no object, a client’s fantasies take shape and nested in that list are some real insights into who they are and what they value. Snap back to reality and you realize that these dreams, once articulated and listed, can be prioritized and run through the budget lens where though tamed they can be harnessed and put to work designing a truly custom fit  and honest solution. So next time you are thinking about new office space, or your restaurant, or your new home, second home or addition – ask yourself, “what would I do with 600 million dollars?