M. Grisafe Architects was started in Long Beach, California in 2005. They provide architectural services and partner with talented consultants to provide interior, landscape, and engineering services for both residential and commercial projects. This includes planning services, design, and construction drawing services.
Q: Tell us something more about the company?
A: Our aim as a company is to be relational, not transactional, in the way we do business. To us, that means treating our clients as members of our team, and including them in every stage of the planning and design process.
Our company uses three continuing steps to ensure that we deliver the highest level of service to every client:
• Advise: We steadily advise a client through each phase of our available services, from schematic conceptualization to construction administration.
• Advocate: We quickly learn our clients’ needs and what they want from the projects, and then we dedicate ourselves to reaching the desired outcome and overcoming all of the pitfalls and hurdles associated with construction.
• Collaborate: We create effective partnerships with our clients and project stakeholders so we can keep things moving along smoothly.
Q: What part does technology play at M. Grisafe Architects? How do you leverage technology in the design process?
A: At M. Grisafe Architects we would classify ourselves as “early-ish adopters” of the most current trends in energy-saving devices or smart home technology. We don’t necessarily use “bleeding edge” technology, but we do try to investigate any new technology that comes out that is relevant to the architecture industry and see if it would be useful for either our firm or for our clients’ homes or office buildings. For example, when other architecture firms were still using hand drawings for design, we were using CAD. When 2D CAD was still standard among architects, we had already begun providing clients with 3D renderings for their residential and commercial design projects.
About a year ago, we started using a new project management software at our firm to help our internal process and make our business run more smoothly and efficiently. We are always growing and evolving as a business. We don’t want to get stuck in a rut. We do our best to stay on top of the latest trends, products, and technology, and not just for the sake of doing something new, but rather to do things in a way that will truly improve the spaces where our clients live or work.
Q: We understand that the City of Long Beach asked for your assistance in designing their cloud-based planning software. What more can you tell us about that?
A: Up until about two years ago, we regularly had to submit architectural plans to up to nine different departments within the city—a process that was both cumbersome and inefficient. We suggested a more streamlined approach that would allow architects to submit one set of plans, which could then be funneled to the appropriate departments for approval. When the city finished developing their online system for checking and approving plans, they invited us to be one of the first architectural firms to test the system. We submitted one set of residential plans and one set of commercial plans. The commercial project was the first set of plans to be approved under the new online system. We have been using this system ever since, and it appears to simplify and speed up the process, as well as provide a paperless system that is much friendlier to the environment.
Q: You’ve won several awards for your website and blog. How have these digital assets helped you connect with potential clients?
A: It’s a competitive market out there, so you have to do things that set your company apart. When we created our website for our business, we didn’t want it to just be an online portfolio of completed projects. We aren’t trying to sell you someone else’s dream home or commercial space. We want visitors and potential clients to be able to get a sense of who we are, our philosophy of design, and the kind of experience they can expect to have when working with our team. As far as we can tell, we’re one of the few architecture firms in Long Beach that includes a blog on their website.
By reading our blog, we hope that readers get a “feel” for what we’re all about. Although it may take extra time and effort to craft original content that will be interesting and useful to our clients, we believe it’s worth it when people comment that they called us because they like what we are all about and they can see themselves working with us.
Q: What are your plans for the next six months?
A: In a forever changing industry it is important to keep our clients’ interests at the forefront. For the next six months we plan to continue our focus on meeting and exceeding the needs and expectations of every client we work with.
It has been expressed to us by clients and potential clients that they would like to see more photos of our work. In response, we have hired a talented individual to photograph some of our recently completed jobs, and we are devoting time to going over the photos to make sure they capture each project’s uniqueness. We plan to add these photos to our website and social media outlets in the upcoming months.
In addition to seeing more photos, clients have been wanting to visit our work space a bit more frequently. We recently moved into a new office location, which we believe will benefit both our employees and our clients. Moving from our small home studio to our new office has made us more accessible to our clients, and it has given our employees a larger space in which to work.
Lastly, although this has not been a direct request from clients, we felt the need to bring some of the structural drafting in-house. We have been doing this for the past several months and it has made us more efficient and has increased both the speed and the quality control of our projects.
Q: We understand you do a lot of community work. Why is that important to you?
A: As a company, we have certain standards and values that we strive for. One of these is a dedication to public-spirited work. When we were thinking about what our company’s business model would look like, it quickly became apparent that generosity would be an integral part of it. Many of my mentors, who are also business owners, have included community work as part of their business models, and I knew wanted to do the same.
Everyone wants to live and work in a place that they are proud of. We feel that one way to contribute to this civic pride is to help provide well-designed public spaces that are also well-maintained. In much of the community work we do, we use our expertise to help improve the design of areas that need attention, in order to give community members spaces that are more functional and aesthetically pleasing.