The architect and custom integration communities are a long ways away from being perfect partners with one another, but if the presence of three prominent American Institute of Architects at the Spring Azione Unlimited Conference showed anything it’s that both are very much willing to bury whatever hatchet may exist and get to work. And that, for what it’s worth, has to be an encouraging sign for all in attendance.
Building those bridged between the communities has long been a goal of our own with a publication like Connected Design, which showcases the fruits of those who’ve developed strong partnerships with one another. But that’s really just a start and only part of the mission. As Azione President and Founder Richard Glikes told us at the open of this event in Bonita Springs, Florida, there’s a real business case to be made for the integrator—and the architect—to get involved early on in the process. As the space has evolved, integrators have moved from being just that “AV guy” to a crucial provider of everything from lighting, to shades, security systems, power management, full-blown automation systems, and more. But architects may not—or almost certainly do not in most cases—understand or realize the breadth of this space. And that’s what makes the conversations so critical. It’s as much about education and awareness as it is networking and business development.
The three architects in attendance—Mary Cerrone, founder and owner of Mary Cerrone Architects and Interiors; Stuart Narofsky, principal of Narofsky Architecture; and Chris Rose, president of Christopher Rose Architects—all hailed from AIA’s Custom Residential Architect Network (CRAN), which inherently made them a little easier to connect with from the integrators’ perspectives because they actively do work with this space. They all get the need to work closely with a technology professional as early in the process as possible. But even they admitted that that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve been successful at making technology a critical part of the planning process with their clients.