What’s with the name “HiWorks”?

When we started our office back in 2012 we wanted to create something that was more than just an extension of its founding partner. We wanted to create a design firm that was friendly and approachable (“Hi”) while still aspiring to something more than it was when it began. We also wanted to do good work regardless of what kind of work that might ultimately come our way (“Works”). Today HiWorks does mostly architecture but maybe someday it might also do films, or canoes, or sweaters.


What style of architecture do you do?

Most historic styles are the result of a culture’s pragmatic response to building in a particular time and place. When a client comes to us with a particular style in mind we try and understand what it is they find attractive about that style. We’ve found that it’s often not the aesthetic of the style that is compelling but the quality of light or the sense of enclosure that a particular approach to design tends to create. We feel performance matters more than aesthetics.


Is there any particular type of building that you specialize in designing?

At some point we may need to “grow up” and specialize in a particular building type, but for now we’re enjoying the challenge that some with a diverse range of clients asking us to do a diverse range of projects. So far we’ve done pavilions, houses, offices, shops, schools and lots in between. There is a surprising amount of cross-pollination between these varied project types and we’ve found that designing a dining pavilion for a ranch has informed how we design a control tower for an airport.


What is your favorite type of project?

We’ve yet to work on a project that we didn’t find exciting on some level, but we’ve found the most fulfilling projects are the challenging ones – the ones where the client has an unusual problem that we are able to work with them to solve. If the architectural solution to the design problem isn’t obvious – and if we as architects are given the freedom to think outside the box – we often end up with a design that while unexpected, also seems like the most natural solution in the world.


I'm looking to do a small addition to my house – do I need an architect?

It depends.

If your project is fairly straightforward and you know exactly what you want, there may not be much value in our involvement. For a small residential addition, a Contractor can often work off a simple sketch or verbal description of what you want.

If, however, you don’t know what you want or have a project that’s more complex and calls for an unconventional solution, we may be exactly what you need. In addition to thinking through design options you might not have considered, we will also be able to provide the type of documentation the Contractor will need to complete the project.

That said, the range of services we provide can be tailored to your specific needs. Although we can provide full documentation and make visits to the construction site, a smaller project may benefit less from this involvement. In that case, we will work with you to develop a scope of services that meet you and your project’s specific needs.


How do you structure your fees?

In the early phases of a project when everyone is still determining the scope and direction of the design, we often like to bill on an hourly basis. Sometimes we arrive at the appropriate design solution quickly but other times it takes a little longer. We provide estimates and checkpoints along the way, but we’ve found this method ensures we are compensated for the work that we do for you - no more and no less.

After the parameters of the project have been determined as we are moving into the production of the documents the contractor will need to actually build the project, we have a much better understanding of what it will take to complete the work and can establish a fixed fee that is usually set as a percentage of the total construction cost.

All of this is variable, of course, and we’ll work with you to develop a fee structure that best fits everyone’s needs. We haven’t had a client who wanted to pay us in chickens, but we’re open to the idea.


Why are your fees so high?

There are times when we feel like we have the coolest job in the world. After all, we get paid to draw for a living. However, those drawings reflect years of accumulated skill and knowledge. We had to go to school for a really long time, intern at an office of even longer and then take a bunch of tests to become a licensed architect. Like any business we also have overhead and insurance and like doctors or any other “high-risk” profession, we do take on considerable liability when we design a building. All of this contributes to our fees being set at the level they are.


Why are your fees so low?

One asset of a being a small office as that it allows us to be both efficient and nimble. The people you meet with to discuss your project are the same people who will be producing the drawings for it once they’re back at the office. We don’t have layers of hierarchy – we don’t have a receptionist or a marketing department. Perhaps most importantly, we are hungry. We want to create good architecture in the world and in order to do that we need to work with good clients. That’s where you come in.


Do you speak Spanish?

Yes. Betsy minored in Spanish and remains fluent. Brantley is married to a fluent Spanish speaker but has not yet acquired that skill. Communication is important on any project and we will work with you to determine if our capabilities will accommodate your needs.


Do you speak Klingon?