When we were in Italy this past summer, we worked with Context Travel for our day at the Vatican Museums. Being vaguely familiar with the crowds made me a little nervous about negotiating the vast museum complex with the kids, and I wanted to make sure they saw the things they needed to see, as well as some of the more obscure things that might pique their interest. Our guide, Valeria, met us at the entrance, and once past security and ticketing, air-kissed and waved us on to little used elevators and through roped off passageways at a quick clip, offering glorious tidbits of information along the way. Theoretically, if we had done our research, we might have managed the crowd aspect of the visit, but Valeria offered something we couldn’t have come up with on our own: an alternate route discerned through experience and ingenuity. We started with the Papal Carriages, a less visited and air-conditioned exhibit that served as a framework for understanding what we were about to see, a quiet place away from the crowds where we could ask questions and listen to the answers, and a starting point that was not overwhelming for the kids. In short order, it was clear we were in the hands of an expert guide, and I was so grateful for her experience and wisdom.
Expert guides like Valeria help us get to our goals: we all need them at some point. And while your project may not be of the same size or scale as the Vatican Museum, having someone on your team who understands your goals and can provide you with some alternate routes to reach them is invaluable. To that end, we offer a Project Definition Phase as a pre-design phase for owners who know what problems they want their building project to solve but are unclear about what their options may be. This phase can be especially useful for larger scale renovations involving multiple areas of the house, or projects where construction phasing might be important. Whether your endpoint is a new renovation or a new house, this goal of this phase is to define the scope of the project, to create a framework for moving forward and, hopefully, a ballpark budget. The finish line can seem awfully distant when you don’t know where the starting line is: working with an expert guidance of an architect can help you a better define the beginning so that the end is clearly in sight.