Mark Shaw won the Architect Pitch in 2017 and was invited by developer HB Reavis to work on a new commercial building in Farringdon. It was later appointed to work on all the common areas in the building, including a gym, bar, café and auditorium.
How much did you prepare and what tips do you have?
We really invested a lot. The most challenging thing is trying to get across enough information in three minutes. We decided to split it into two lots of 90 seconds, one about the practice and one on the project.
On the practice, we culled it down to six projects we had done, with only one slide per project with one big word or idea for each. Because what tends to happen is that people bamboozle the audience with tons of information and try to explain everything at high speed and people just zone out or glaze over.
On the project, we had three slides, again each with a big idea. It’s important not only to really understand the brief, but to be very specific rather than lots of architect stuff. We all talk about gardens, but we specifically mentioned some software they could use - so play to the audience.
Timing is crucial because there’s nothing worse than running out. So I set an alarm on my phone at every eight seconds which kept me going on track and we rehearsed and practiced in the office until we got it right. But it wasn’t easy.
Why do you think you won?
I think we probably understood what they were trying to find. We worked out that they were looking for something to help them sell the building to a prospective tenant – something quirky and original. That’s what they said afterwards anyway. And we did a lot of research about HB Reavis, read about them and looked at their Instagram feed.
What’s was it like working with HB Reavis?
They are a good company to work with; they are interested in design and what’s current. They are a very professional client. It’s been an organised and carefully designed project, and hopefully we produced a pack of key details of the façade and internal finishes. They are a large organisation but understand the role of deign in enhancing the value of their buildings. They understood working with a smaller design practice and gave us time to work on and explain our ideas. We had weekly design meetings and they listened and reviewed everything carefully. It was a huge design team but we were able to feed into the process.
What has the experience of pitching taught you?
It’s made me realise how important it is to distil down information about design to make it easily digestible to the audience. It’s been a good discipline – thinking about the best way to get your message across and sell an idea to a client, and to keep it succinct.
And what did the client HB Reavis say about the pitch experience?
It was quite amazing that it was the first time Archiboo had put up a real brief. And they told us that they would never have been able to find us otherwise and to get to the grassroots of what practices like ours could offer. That’s what they said.