It Is All About Timing
I am sure you have heard the old adage “Timing is everything in life.” Having just completed my second month in the architectural signage industry as Marketing Manager with ASI Corporate, I am finding my learning of the signage industry and ASI to be both rewarding and eye opening.
A few weeks ago I made my first site visit to take photographs of a multi-floor suite of offices that would be occupied with several hundred employees in just over one week. The design of the offices quite literally wowed me. No drab colors and used furniture here. The design I saw could be featured proudly in any corporation’s annual report. The furniture was cutting edge and all in the latest trendy colors. The carpet design incorporated colors, which changed reflecting the seating in different sections of the layout. The chairs could be displayed in the architecture section of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. There were large sections with open office cubes. There were open work pods with sharp angles and seating for six on opposite sides of meeting parentheses that reminded me of the bridge of Battlestar Galactica.
Meeting areas were liberally spread throughout and there were enough TVs being installed to increase the stock price of their supplier by a few percentages points the day they were ordered.
Rush! Rush! Rush!
While touring the offices I happened upon the general contractor who was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I suppose this is normal for large projects as there is never enough time. However, He mentioned that for a project of this size this was the second shortest timeframe that he had ever had to work under. Several floors of offices were literally being constructed from the windows in. Walls had been erected, electric, data and phone lines were run along with TV cables. Bathrooms and break rooms were built. Employees were set to occupy offices in just over a week and the client was still adding to the punch list, which was already endless.
Where Are the Signs?
Did I mention that employees would be occupying their office in just over a week? The signage requirements hadn’t yet been finalized no less ordered. Signs are critical for employees to find their offices and maneuver around their new work environment (not to mention visitors and vendors who must also navigate the new digs). Yet the signs wouldn’t be available for many weeks because their purchase was left to the very end of the project when time (and often budgets) were running out. Besides signs’ critical importance in wayfinding, architectural signs also frame design. Their selection merits more than a rushed selection as a project draws to a close.
Cost, Quality and Speed
There is a well-known rule that getting top quality, extremely fast and at a good price is impossible. You can have any two of the three but not all three. You may be able get something very quickly at a decent price but the quality will suffer. You might be able get really good quality overnight but you are going to pay through your teeth. You can get good quality at a reasonable price but it is going to take time.
By planning signage needs far enough ahead, one should be able to get top quality signage at a reasonable price and on time. Furthermore, accuracy issues are frequently a nightmare in a rush situation and ordering in a timely manner will minimize mistakes. My take away from my tour of this state of the art office was that architects, designers, general contractors and clients will all strongly benefit from making sure to get signage decisions made and ASI orders placed as early as possible. Don’t wait until the last minute!