Greg Neffinger, Architect

Architectural Design


Real Estate Consulting



Designing a building is like taking a trip where the signposts to the destination are not always clear.  An architect can be a guide to help you to your destination.  This is actually a collaborative effort between the client and the designer. The architect needs to know where the client wants to go and the architect begins to write the directions: sometimes verbal and sometimes graphic with drawings and sketches.  The architect must bring a vast amount of information and presented this to the client in a form that can be easily understood. The client must help the architect understand how they intend to use their building. The client presents the architect with a program of the building's spaces with square footages and other ideas to be incorporated into the design.  Together the client and the architect can produce both a functional and aesthetically pleasing structure.


After reviewing the client's program I start the design by working on the floor plan. It takes years of training and experience to take the building concept and to then begin to represent those ideas on paper.  Even more experience is needed to communicate to the client what the final structure will look like.  This is why a combination of two dimensional plans, and three dimensional renderings and models help the client see they're building before it is actually built.


The plan is where most clients have a difficult time. The drawings are really just symbols of walls and doors and windows that represent elements of the structure.   There are solid barriers like walls that will contain the spaces and openings that will allow light to enter and for views beyond those spaces.  Other elements like doors allow for people to pass through the walls and to traverse  between the divided spaces of the building . All of these elements are shown on the drawing using symbols that are part of the designers language but may not be very meaningful to the client.


It still may be difficult for the client to envision the drawings as a structure after learning the meaning of these symbols. Even more challenging can be envisioning the structure in the third dimension.  The architect must be able communicate to the client the spaces of the building and how they will use them. The end goal of all design is to create places for people. The architect's ability to communicate is vital to achieving this goal.


Budgetary constraints will cause a designer to pull back but this is also another challenge of good design: you have to keep reaching for a solution which will fulfill the original vision but keep true to the clients needs and budget.


The existing structures of a Post industrial has meant that my architectural practice has been involved with the renovation of existing buildings. These existing structures create many challenges beyond the owners program and involve studying zoning bylaws and building codes. This is another area where the architect's experience can add value to an existing building.


When renovating buildings the existing structure presents certain constraints that can dictate the final form.


New construction often allows the client to create a wish list which would include the new building spaces with their square footage. I find the design of new buildings much easier because there are less constraints posed by the existing structure which allows for much more creativity in the design.


Every architect should have the goal of creating something unique. What some call a "sense of place". Every good design should have an element that adds to the  users experience or will give a signature appearance to the building. Long before any thoughts of materials, colors, or textures, the design should work in plan and in the third dimension. As a person moves through the space the structure that's been created by walls, windows ceilings and floors are punctuated by other openings which create light and views. These are created by adding doors, windows, and other openings.


If you walk through an unfinished building with just the walls and window openings there should be a sense of excitement that is appropriate to the space. Before any paint or carpet's or other surface treatments The characteristics of the raw space will be a sign of a good design.


Greg Neffinger