June 27, 2023

Architects Were Busy at AIA 2023

By Paul Daniels

The American Institute of Architects Conference on Architecture 2023 in San Francisco drew a large crowd this year. Most of the architects I met were optimistic, and firms were not only busy but hiring.

I received a lot of requests for in-person lunch-and-learns as people returned to the office. Education was a large part of the show, with more learning lounges on the show floor than I have seen in the past. When I walked by one, they all looked sold out.

Most of the booths had large doors, windows and bi-folding wall systems towering over their booths. Twelve-foot systems seemed to be the new normal. On a positive note, glass, especially heavy glass interior systems, is still gaining popularity.

Architects come to the show to learn. Questions on glass handrail codes, when and where to use laminated glass, what meets energy codes and the largest size doors available were the most popular questions asked.

This really points out that the way to sell to architects is to be prepared with good information. Most are looking for companies that offer design advice and technical support for their products. Offering solutions for their design ideas is a great way to get specified in a project.

Supply chain issues and lead times were popular topics. Where products are manufactured and how fast installers can get them on the jobsite are a big part of specification decisions these days. Lead times are also an important issue when you are requesting a product substitution.

Most architects I spoke with told me they are not against substitution requests when documented correctly. They don’t want to waste time reviewing products without the correct paperwork to support the requests. They must be submitted in a timely manner according to the request for quotation documents.

I had a lunch-and-learn last week with a large local glazing contractor in Los Angeles. They said they are doing more design-built jobs with more direct contact with architects than in the past. This is a good opportunity to submit the products you want to use on the job. Communicating correctly and speaking their language is critical to approving your ideas and products.