Conducting Effective Building Project Kick-off Meetings

It has been said the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  A building project journey is measured by the time frame of anywhere from several weeks to several years and the first step required to achieve a high quality project is an effective kick-off meeting.

Since no two projects are identical, no two kick-off meeting agendas are identical.  However, the following matters should always be addressed.

1.  A building project is a team effort in which many interested parties collaborate.  Therefore it is necessary to review means of achieving effective communication – e.g.:

  • Identify the “point person” of the building owner, architect, consulting engineers, etc.
  • Set guidelines for the paths of communications – e.g. when the architect’s consulting engineers have issues that need input from the building owner, must the engineers communicate through the architect versus direct communication with the building owner by means of a conference call including the architect or E-mail which the architect is copied on.
  • Establish the responsibility for and process by which meeting minutes will be compiled and distributed to participants of all meetings.

2.  Review design parameters for the project – e.g.:

  • What “statement” should the project to make?  As can be seen in the illustrations below; buildings, like people, have personalities!
TWA Terminal at JFK International Airport Image Source
TWA Terminal at JFK International Airport
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General Motors Technical Center – Detroit, MI Image Source
General Motors Technical Center – Detroit, MI

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  • Special features of and adjacencies between the exterior and interior spaces that the facility will be made up of.
  • Basic mechanical and electrical systems
  • What, if any, special construction is required? – e.g. super-flat flooring, anything exceeding minimal code requirements such as conformance to FM requirements, etc.
  • If the project is an addition to and/or renovation of an existing facility, review desirable and undesirable features of the existing facility.

3.  Review the time frame for all phases of the project beginning with presentation of the first conceptual design studies through completion of construction.

4.  Review the budget  as very often this issue will be subject to much future discussion and possible revision in future meetings and communications.

5.  Architect to receive all data the owner is responsible for providing – e.g. the registered survey, information about electric, gas, water, compressed air, etc. as required for manufacturing equipment, record drawings of existing facility, etc.

6. Other?  Including this is worthwhile because meeting participants who had no input in preparation of the agenda may very well have some important matters that should be addressed.

Incidentally, it is very helpful if a few days prior to the meeting all persons that will attend have the agenda provided to them for use in preparing for the kick-off. This enhances the possibility of the meeting resulting in carefully considered decisions being taken as opposed to snap judgments.