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What Collaboration Means to Me: Sometimes Style is as Important as Substance

Let’s face it. Historic rehabilitation isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes a special breed of home owner – and home professional – to keep eyes on the prize through what never fails to be a long, unpredictable, sometimes queasy rollercoaster ride to the project finish line.

One of my favorite things about being a historic rehab consultant is connecting with other pros who share not just a passion for old buildings but also the persistent, multi-layered problem-solving mindset  old buildings demand. We have to relish the process of teasing out a structure’s mysteries, patiently allowing it to tell us what it needs, all while respecting the client’s budget and timeline. It’s a constant balancing act that requires creativity, clear communication and management of expectations. There’s absolutely no “one size fits all” approach. Teamwork is the key ingredient to ensure the integrity of the project.

Projects run best when each team member is able to flourish in their “zone of genius”, coming together in a collaborative spirit to coordinate and trouble shoot as needed. Historic preservation is something I’ve lived and breathed since I was a child. I trained (and later taught) at Columbia University with some of the best planners, architects, conservators and historians, then spent more than 15 years in the preservation advocacy trenches defending the landmarks and historic districts of New York City. Still, every project – the people involved as much as the building itself – has something (a lot, actually!) to teach me.

I’m constantly learning new facts about history and architecture. Delivering exceptional historic preservation expertise, including research, strategy, conceptual drawings as well as product and material specifications – my “lane” on a project – goes without saying. But it’s just the beginning. Among the most valuable skills I’ve gathered from experience are to:

  • Do my best work, every day
  • Support the team and help them shine
  • Calmly counsel clients through the emotional journey of a project
  • Respond quickly, collaboratively and creatively to inevitable bumps in the road
  • Communicate clearly and reliably
  • Listen to (and learn from) others
  • Show up with a smile

If you share this MO and think I could be an asset to your next historic rehab project, please reach out! I’d love to work together.