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The Architect's Dilemma: To Generalize or To Specialize?


As the old saying goes, "Jack of all trades, master of none." This statement can hold true when it comes to hiring an architect for your project. Do you want someone who can do a little bit of everything or someone who specializes in your project type? Let's explore why it's important to know if the architect you're planning to hire is a generalist or a specialist.

First off, let's define the two terms. A generalist architect is someone who has a broad range of knowledge and experience in various types of projects. They have a good understanding of different building types and styles, construction methods, and building codes. On the other hand, a specialist architect is someone who focuses on a specific type of project, such as healthcare facilities, schools, or residential homes. They have a deep understanding of the unique requirements, design principles, and regulations specific to their area of expertise.

Now, let's dive into the reasons why it's important to know which type of architect you need for your project:

  1. Quality of Work: If you hire a generalist architect for a specialized project, they may not have the same level of knowledge and expertise as a specialist. As a result, the quality of their work may suffer, leading to design flaws, code violations, and construction issues.

  2. Cost: A generalist architect may charge less than a specialist because they do not have the same level of expertise. However, you may end up paying more in the long run if their lack of specialization leads to costly mistakes and delays.

  3. Time: If you hire a specialist architect, they will be able to complete your project more efficiently because they have experience working on similar projects. They know the regulations, design principles, and construction methods specific to your project type, which can save time and reduce errors.

  4. Innovation: A specialist architect has a deep understanding of the latest trends, technologies, and design principles specific to their area of expertise. They can bring innovative ideas to the table that a generalist architect may not be aware of.

So, which one should you choose? The answer depends on the type of project you have. If you have a complex project that requires specialized knowledge and expertise, such as a hospital or a research facility, it's best to hire a specialist architect. However, if you have a simple project, such as a small residential home or a commercial building, a generalist architect may be a good fit.

In conclusion, when it comes to hiring an architect, it's important to know whether you need a generalist or a specialist. Make sure to do your research and choose the architect that is the best fit for your project. Remember, it's not about finding the best architect, it's about finding the best architect for your project.


Flow is a culturally diverse architectural ecosystem where everyone has a voice and a shot at making a better world through the use of materials, form, and space. Our design philosophy is fueled by the strengths and skills each partner brings into the table to achieve a common purpose: great and impactful architecture for humanity. The process is essentially an organized oasis of resources working in harmony via thoughtful collaboration.

Flow is rooted in the dream of the firm's founding partners to make a place for those without a place in the AEC industry. This dream became an obsession, and it sparked momentum when the firm was invited to participate in the 2019 Licensing Advisors Summit hosted by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards in Minneapolis. This is where NCARB shared a picture of the board members from all states and jurisdictions and none of them was a person of color. Michael Armstrong, CEO of NCARB, acknowledged that this was a problem and that they did not know what to do about it. Flow founding partner Darguin Fortuna believed that was a problem too and that the firm FLOW would insight change over the years.

Our Company is based out of the North Shore in Salem, Massachusetts. We serve Local, National, and International clients. We have licensed Architects in MA, ME,NH, CT, PA & FL.


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