The return of the Architect Pitch

As an architect, presenting yourself, your practice and your projects can be a stressful, yet necessary process. This proved true when seven architects took to the stage recently as part of archiboo’s The Architect Pitch at Argent – a valuable opportunity to hone pitching skills before heading to MIPIM in March.

The architects pitching were Ben Ridley from Architecture for London; Alasdair Dixon from Collective Works; Annalie Riches from Mikhail Riches; Phyllida Mills from Mills Power; Ian McChesney from McChesney Architects; Carl Turner from Carl Turner Architects and Jerry Tate from Tate Harmer.

With only three minutes to pitch, the architects who won the most praise from the five-strong panel were well rehearsed and understood exactly what clients were looking for.

“I want to know at the start where the architect is going to add value”, said Alex Phillips of Grosvenor – a point echoed by other panel members who agreed that with so little time it must be extremely clear what the offer is.

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They advised the architects to plan their pitch by asking themselves to identify the biggest single problem that they’re trying to solve. They also advise them to keep it brief. As summarised by Carolyn Larkin of Caro Communications, “Pare your presentation down if you have too many projects”.

Architect Ian McChesney was praised for his short presentation, although he was criticised for reading from a prepared script. As noted by Colm Lacey of Croydon Council, “it was almost the perfect local authority presentation”. Nick Searl of Argent agreed that McChesney’s offer was “very clear” and compelling, adding that “I loved the fact that whatever I’m doing you might add something to it that would be that special piece nobody else would come up with it. Genuinely that’s of huge value.”

Aside from staying succinct, architects were advised to relax in order for clients to trust them as representatives in front of a council or other stakeholders. The panel were quick to remind those pitching that the client will often be choosing someone with whom they will be working several years, so it is imperative to come across as a human being. As summarised by Nick Searl, “when we’ve got pitches going on, nagging at the back of your mind is whether you want to spend the next two or three years with this person”.

Most importantly, however much preparation and planning goes into a pitch, the passion must always be allowed to shine through. The architects that emerged with the ringing endorsement of “I’d like to work with you” did so because they came across as “engaged and engaging” – a winning formula that succeeds time and time again.

The panel Consisted of Carolyn Larkin of Caro Communications, Alex Phillips, Project Director in the Placemaking team at Grosvenor; Nick Searl, partner of Argent LLP, Colm Lacey Director of Development for Croydon Council and Del Hossain, MD of the Adrem Group.

The Architect Pitch, organised by archiboo took place at Argent’s headquarters on February 25th.

Watch the evening in full:

The next Architect Pitch will be in September 2016. To register your interest please email Estelle Jarvis, estelle@carocommunications.com