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How to Prepare for a Visioning Workshop with Your Architect

June 8th, 2022 | 4 min. read

How to Prepare for a Visioning Workshop with Your Architect

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The early stages of the architectural process are for research and planning. Before you can start designing, you and your architect should establish overarching project goals. One of the ways your architect can help you establish goals is by facilitating a visioning workshop. 

A visioning workshop is a group meeting that occurs in the initial stages of the architectural process. The goal is to get input from a cross-section of stakeholders, set high-level goals, and establish alignment between everyone involved with the project.

Although your architect will facilitate the workshop, the real work is up to your team. Working together, they will create a list of priorities that will inform future design decisions. In our experience, these workshops are more effective when you prepare your team and set expectations. 

This article will discuss visioning workshops in more detail and explain three ways you can prepare: 

  1. Include a diverse group 
  2. Research your current facilities 
  3. Set clear expectations 

After reading, you’ll be ready to get the most out of this process. 

How Does a Visioning Workshop Work? 

A visioning workshop is a chance to hear from everyone who will occupy the completed space. 

Typically, these workshops involve a mix of large and small group activities. Attendees will get to interact with people across your organization and learn about the challenges they face with the current space. This valuable group interaction helps everyone better understand how design decisions will impact others.     

Through small group prioritization exercises and large group discussions, you will gradually form a vision for your project. You should walk away with a list of priorities that will drive the project forward. 

group of people making a list of priorities in a visioning workshop

Visioning workshop participants will list priorities that will form the project’s foundation.

How to Prepare for Your Visioning Workshop 

1. Include a Diverse Group 

When it comes to visioning workshops, the phrase “the more, the merrier” rings true. Ideally, the workshop should include anyone who will occupy the completed space. However, this isn’t always possible for larger organizations. 

If you cannot include everyone, form a group that represents a cross-section of your organization. Your architect should also survey those who cannot attend the workshop. Everyone should feel like they have the chance to voice their thoughts.   

Ultimately, the number of people you can include is unlimited. Your architect is there to facilitate discussion and can work with a group of any size. Just let them know how many will be in attendance so they can plan accordingly. 

2. Research Your Current Facilities 

Visioning workshops are only one part of the pre-design process. Before the workshop, you and your architect may need to do preliminary research to determine your needs.   

If you plan to renovate your facility, your architect may complete a facilities study. They will study how you utilize your current space and assess factors like:

  • Code and accessibility compliance
  • The state of your utilities
  • The state of your mechanical system
  • Wall, door, window, and roof issues 

You may also tour your facility with your architect and discuss what works and what needs to change. 

Even if you are constructing a new facility, touring your current facility can help you prepare for your visioning workshop. Including those who will participate in the workshop will help establish a shared language when setting project goals. 

Additionally, you may go on benchmarking tours where you will visit facilities like the one you are planning to construct. On these tours, you’ll get to voice your opinions, talk to occupants, and learn about different ways of approaching your project. 

Together, these activities give you a better understanding of your challenges and opportunities, making the workshop even more effective. 

3. Set Clear Expectations 

Communication is key to a successful project. Before the workshop, set expectations with your team. Everyone should understand the importance of the workshop and why they are in attendance.   

Remind them that this is a chance for them to voice their thoughts and concerns. Their ideas will form the foundation of the project. 

Additionally, explain that the workshop is about high-level goal setting. It is an opportunity to be aspirational and discuss your ideal facility. Encourage people to discuss their long-term goals as well as their immediate needs. 

Later, you and your architect will prioritize ideas and find ways to align them with your budget. At this point in the process, you should get ideas out in the open to give your architect a clear direction. 

Above all, create a comfortable and relaxed environment for your team. Visioning workshops can be a fun experience, a team-building exercise that you will remember for years. Get your team excited to generate ideas and discuss your future.   

What Happens Next? 

Visioning workshops are foundational to a successful building project. They help establish goals and build consensus. By including a diverse range of stakeholders, researching your current facility, and communicating expectations with your team, you are more likely to have an engaging experience. 

Visioning workshops are just one component of the Pre-Design process. Learn how you will start to quantify your goals into spaces by reading about programming studies.