AIA: Architects ask for more digital, advisory support from building products companies

by Brianna Crandall — January 30, 2017 — Architects are calling on manufacturers of building products and materials to advance their digital capabilities, as well as their ability to consult and advise customers in the many phases of construction projects, according to a study published by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The Architect’s Journey to Specification assesses the cultural, technical, and informational influences in the choices made by America’s building design professionals. The groundbreaking research into the preferences, habits and attitudes of architects in their roles as specifiers of building products also shows that transparency and knowledge sharing are critical to influencing choices about products to be used.

Michele Russo, senior director of Research for the AIA, commented:

The architect’s role in specification is well known in the construction industry, but the manner of their choices and decisions is often confusing to many. The Architect’s Journey to Specification provides a broad view into the process for architects across the United States, in small and large firms, focusing on multiple project types, across the design, specification, and approval stages of a project.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Improved Web sites. Architects want product Web sites that are clear, concise, up-to-date, and easy to navigate. They also want easy access (no sign-up to view product information) and access to detailed information, including building information models and objects.
  • Focus on education. Architects are required to take continuing education courses in order to maintain their license. Manufacturers can capitalize on this by creating and offering online and face-to-face educational programming that qualifies for continuing education credits. Beware the product pitch disguised as education. Relationships have been damaged over such miscues.
  • Be an expert. Architects want to talk to manufacturer representatives who know technical information about the product. Manufacturers should prepare their sales force to be highly knowledgeable about their products — and arm them with specifications for those products.
  • Be proactive. Architects see manufacturers as important influence agents in the specification phase of a project. Their time is typically very limited, so manufacturers should prepare their sales teams to understand the customer’s pain points first. That can help lead to a larger discussion about new product lines.
  • Be transparent. The more open a manufacturer can be about the specification for a product, the more loyalty and trust will be fostered with the architect. This will translate to greater market share, as architects start to look at the manufacturer as an extension of their project teams.

A special Executive Summary is available for download. To inquire about purchasing the 49-page report, which is available as a stand-alone purchase or as a companion to an online data dashboard for business planning and market insight, contact AIA at 844/432-1242 or

Learn more about the AIA Corporate Partnership Program on the AIA Web site.