The Architect's Blog

Effective Tenant Improvement Projects Begin by Asking the Right Questions

I think there is a part of all of us that enjoys understanding how things work and why people make the decisions they do. I became aware of this truth before I was a teenager, when one of my sisters made a statement that seemed to come from nowhere. “What were you thinking about when you said that?” I asked. “Why do you do that?” she responded.  “Why do I do what?” I asked.  “Why do you always ask what I was thinking about when I say something?” she asked. Until that moment, I had never noticed that I did that. “I guess I just like knowing how people think.” I replied.  

Annoying as it may have been to my siblings while growing up, this curiosity has served me well as an architect, especially when it comes to providing commercial tenant improvements for businesses. To clarify, tenant improvement is the work that a building requires, whether it is needed to meet the new tenant’s specific needs or required by the building code. Whenever one business moves out and a different one moves into a particular space tenant improvements are necessary. Whether it be a food bank being converted into a vending machine company or a warehouse into a fitness center, changes to commercial buildings require permission to build, or permits. Asking questions so we know as much about the business as is appropriate, helps us to be a better partner for the development and a more effective advocate with the jurisdictional authority.

Getting to see the “behind-the-scenes” of an airport, a genetic’s testing lab or even a yogurt shop, not only provides a better sense of what the tenant’s needs are, but it is personally invigorating to witness the ingenious ways that people address and overcome the challenges that they confront in their particular businesses. This spirit of ingenuity and tenacity is contagious and is one of the forces that motivate us as advocates and to get these businesses up and running as quickly as possible.

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