Three Legged Stools

The case for the 3-legged stool in building design 


What does a three-legged stool have to do with successful buildings project?  

The three-legged stool is an old business model worth revisiting. It is the idea that a project is supported by three main “legs.”  Each leg needs to be equally strong otherwise the building will topple. If one leg fails, the integrity of the project is comprised.  For our purposes, let’s use the ancient principles of good architecture as our three legs.   The Roman architect Vitruvius asserted in his treatise on architecture “De Architectura” that the three principles of good architecture were Firmitas, Utilitas, Venustas: “Strength”, “Utility” and “Beauty”. 

If we have the definition for the “legs”, I will propose that the definition of the “seat” or goal could be:  


“Great workspaces that support the client’s business and user’s needs.” 


With those definitions established, let’s put technology within the leg of “Utility”: that being useful and functional. 

When these strong “legs” work together, workspaces can be game-changers.  Places where people want to come to and where things “just work well”.  When they don’t, technology becomes the least of our worries.  We also don’t want technology for technology’s sake.  As technology consultants we often see the proverbial “tail wagging the dog”.  It’s the adage that sometimes leads to costly implementations that are not aligned with the business needs or the workspaces they are placed within. A great example was the initial use of “Smart Boards” in every single meeting space and room.  These were very costly and ended up with low utilization by the users themselves.   

Technology is integral to the building AND every space within.  It should come alongside and support how the space is used.  How do we ensure that we build a strong technology solution so our leg doesn’t collapse?  We start early.   


How can we avoid these potential clashes and tradeoffs?  

Simple. Early integration of the essentials.  


What does success look like in early integration? In our experience, successful projects start with having architects, interior designers and technology consultants working alongside each other when doing initial requirements gathering with the client.  Having Attain at the table early means key discussions on technology strategies can help shape and define workspaces and how people work.  Having us too late can mean doing value engineering just before tender versus doing it upfront.  With Attain on board early, accurate technology budgets and clear design direction mean less change later and more successful implementation.  


And so, we propose the three-legged stool. Let us start with a common, client-focused goal and strive to have all aspects of design support each other.  

At Attain, we embrace the principles of good architecture. Do not leave technology solutions too late in the design. Let’s build a plan together from the start.  

Robert Horne
, Executive VP
Robert is a client advocate. This led him to co-found Attain in 2004 out of a desire to apply his technology and business knowledge to help clients get the most from their buildings and the desire to create a company of great people that share this vision. He has been actively involved in the telecommunications

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