How to Choose a Church Architect in 3 Easy Steps

There are 3 major parts that go into choosing a church architecture firm to help your vision come to life: Choosing who to interview by checking church architecture references, the request for proposal, and finally, the actual interview. Understanding these important steps can help you choose the architect that will suit your needs best.

1. Choosing a Church Architecture Firm to Interview

Your best bet for choosing a church architect is to begin in the church. Talk to trusted members of the congregation, as they may know friends, family, or acquaintances in the business. But, you should certainly not depend just on the opinions of your friends and neighbors. Focus on finding an architect who specializes in the building of churches.

The best place to look, of course, is at the churches in your locale. If you’re particularly fond of the architecture of another church, speak to the clergy about who they’d hired for the job.

You can also use the American Institute of Architects as a resource. There, you can search through the database of award-winning architects and their designs.

As you’re searching for the perfect candidates, keep in mind that you’re after a certain kind of architecture, so church design experience is particularly important. Assure that you are able to view their portfolios or brochures, and that their references consider them to be worthwhile candidates.

What to Ask Church Architecture References

Field research is an important step before narrowing down your list of firms to formally interview. Gathering information from people who have worked with the firms in the past is a fool-proof way of going about this research. Here are the topics you should discuss with your list of church architecture references:

  1. Responsiveness
  2. Final building result
  3. Thoroughness
  4. Transparency
  5. Ability to meet budget and timeline goals
  6. Would they work with them again?

As you narrow down your search, keep in mind that 3 firms should be on the interview list by the end of this initial process.

2. Request for Proposal (RFP)

Once you’ve narrowed down your list to 3 solid options, it’s time to for the RFP. Begin by requesting information from the firms. Here’s what you need:

  • Name and address
  • Description of staff
  • Description of services
  • Brief history of firm
  • Recently completed comparable projects
  • Resumes
  • Description of liability insurance

Gathering information about the firm’s competence and skills should be completed prior to the interview and will allow more time for the firm to show their personality. Fee structure should be openly discussed at this point, though it is not necessarily an indicator of the firm’s value.

3. The Interview

Finally, the interviews can begin. Interviews should take place over the course of no more than a week. This allows firms who will not be commissioned by you a chance to prepare for other projects. The interviews should be between 45 and 90 minutes and all building committee members should be present.

Specific information that you should seek during the interviews includes:

  • Project approach
  • Cost estimate process
  • Budgetary compliance measures
  • Church building personal concepts
  • Acoustical success measures
  • Preliminary design fees
  • Engineering fees
  • Reimbursable items
  • Strong points
  • Project team(s)

Once you’ve pegged the firm that will be the best fit for you based on the answers to those questions, you’re ready to begin the next step in the building of your church.

When choosing a church architect, make sure you seek out a firm that can bring innovative design and efficient construction to the table.

Vanman has been serving ministries since 1957. We offer a committed team of designers and builders that will check the boxes with everything you’re looking for when choosing a church architecture firm. Learn more about what we can do for your ministry by reading about our design-build process.