Selecting a trusted design partner

Considering the size and scale of new construction and / or significant renovation efforts for campus recreation buildings, selecting the right design partner is a critical step. Here are some key steps and best practices that campus recreation professionals should ensure:

Value pre-planning

Even before the design company selection process gets started and quotes requests are made, the college or university team should take the time to outline the entire process that awaits them. . This includes the objectives, scope, timelines, contractual expectations and desired outcomes of the project.

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A well-designed plan that can lead to a well-developed request for quotation (RFQ) lays the foundation for the selection process. As a result, it helps design teams better understand whether they are suitable for a project based on the information provided. Incomplete or weak tenders are only confusing and may not result in the best match.

In-depth study portfolios

It is important that the selection group fully considers the project portfolio of a design company, both the projects in the response to the tender and beyond. Visit a design firm’s website and browse all their projects, the latest news, and more. in the world of campus recreation.

The ideal scenario is for the college or university to identify a design team with the portfolio and experience that complements their original goals. It is also not uncommon to identify hybrid teams where several partners come together to offer an institution the best skills, experience and design for a project.

Get to know the people

It is very important for project teams to be familiar with the design companies they are considering for their project. The reality is that large construction projects take time. You will be working with this group of individuals for years to come.

So take the time to ask them all kinds of questions. Don’t be afraid to just ask yourself:

  • Does this design team seem engaging and fun to work on?
  • Do you think they will be your advocates throughout the process to come?

Understanding the design team is essential. The best way to do this is to invest in getting to know them. Identify a group that shares your vision and passion for the project, has the necessary skills and experience, and appears to be a great collaborative teammate.

There is no single recipe for selecting the best design partner for any given campus recreation project. However, if you engage in some solid pre-planning and analysis, and if you really get to know the people you choose to work with, you will be in the best position to be successful.

Colleen McKenna is the Sports, Recreation and Wellness Practice Director at CannonDesign. She helps colleges and universities across the country create recreational spaces on campuses where all students can thrive. For more information, visit

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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