Is Lean Design the bigfoot of the architectural world?

June 29, 2011

“I thought I saw it once. Rooms designed in twelve foot dimensions, footing dimensions in 24” increments. Sheetrock scraps wouldn’t fill a wheelbarrow. My phone never rang, the trades had all the information they needed and only the information they needed. Then just like that it disappeared, leaving me to wonder if I was only dreaming.”

This could be a quote from a production manager in any area in the country. The truth is that there are many myths about Lean Design. One of the biggest misconceptions is that somehow Lean Design can be produced in a bubble. This is simply not true. Lean design can only be generated with the experience gained in the field. The trades hold the secrets necessary to achieve our goals. If the trades are not involved in some level of the design process then lean will not be achieved.

Architects must act as modern day alchemists by weaving strong value-engineered marketable planning and aesthetics with the current construction techniques, processes and wisdom of the trades and production managers. This process can be achieved by creating a team environment where the trades feel comfortable divulging their knowledge. When achieved you can count on a flood of Lean-designed home sightings. Until then they will just be the stuff of myths and legends.


Todd Hallett, AIA, president of TK Design & Associates has been designing award-winning homes for more than 20 years. He spent 15 of those years working for a $50 million production building company. Todd designed all of its homes but also worked in every other aspect of the company including purchasing, development, land acquisition, product development, and operations, and was president of the company for three years. Equipped with his vast building experience and fueled by his love for architecture he left to form an architecture firm that is second to none in working cohesively with builders. Todd specializes in Lean Design and works, alongside Scott Sedam of TrueNorth Development, in the trenches with builders, suppliers, and trade contractors. Todd welcomes your feedback at or 248.446.1960.


Related Categories