Maintaining direction during a meeting may be one of the most challenging tasks we as architects have, especially during presentations to the residents of the community whose lives our work will affect.
The most dramatic “left turn” I can remember occurred during a presentation to residents of a community for a proposed aquatic and fitness center. All the normal issues about number of lanes, water temperature, fitness equipment and the like came up, and as usual, no one agreed completely on any of them. One man in particular was an avid swimmer and was the most vocal during the meeting. Then, out of the blue, this man begins to talk about food service, which was not part of the program of this fitness center. It only got worse.
I will never forget the next words out of his mouth, “what are you going to do about my green beans, because they are always mushy!” Had it not been for his sensible wife and her pointy elbow, I don’t know if we ever would have gotten out of there. “They’re architects, not cooks!” she scolded him.
People are such an unpredictable species. To try and steer them in the right direction is not always easy, because a pointy elbow is not always handy.