by Signal Works

Why your organization’s mission matters to your building project.

Gordon School Lounge

If you’ve ever completed a building project before, you probably came to your first meeting with the architect armed with square footage and occupancy needs and maybe even some materials you had in mind. 

But, the one thing you most likely didn’t take with you was your organization’s mission, vision, or purpose for being. 

While all the technical details are important, your mission is vital to the success of your build. Without your mission, your project is a ship without a rudder — it’ll still be able to set sail, but there’s a good chance it’ll end up at the wrong destination.

There are three reasons we always start with an organization’s mission before we even put pen to paper.  

1. Your building is an extension of your “why”.

Your mission is the heartbeat of your organization. It’s why you exist and is often evident throughout your people and services. Your space can and should be a continuation of that.

For example, we worked with the Gordon School in East Providence to renovate their existing building. The school always valued community and inclusivity but their existing building had no place for their people to gather together. 

As a result, we put a high priority on creating a gathering place for parents to meet in the morning, students to congregate on break, while also making it conducive to meet needs such as board meetings and an alternate classroom should they ever need the option. 

Gordon School gathering place.

This seemingly small thing helped the school to walk the walk they’d been talking about. It proved they truly do value community and connection and gave them the space they needed to grow in a meaningful way. 

2. Your space is going to be used by your people. 

Sometimes building projects get so focused on the building itself that it’s easy to forget that the space will be used by people. Your people. Since your people are the most important part of your organization, this can turn into a huge oversight with disappointing results on move-in day.

However, when we start with your mission, it’s much easier to stay focused on the people and community who will be using the building daily. It’s amazing how that tiny shift in focus can have major results.

We witnessed this firsthand during our Rise Prep Academy project. As a growing charter school, they found an office from the 80’s that they needed to turn into a high-quality, 21st century school. 

Rather than making the building itself the major concern, the project was focused on the kids and how they progressed through the day and also how they progressed through the grades. As a result, the space is both structured and whimsical and, with the progression of open cubbies to adolescent lockers and lounge spaces, reveals increased responsibility the older the students get.  

Rise Prep Academy Hallway

3. Your building is part of a bigger place. 

Wherever you’re putting your organization, the building is part of a “place ecosystem”, both socially and aesthetically. It’s going to interact with the buildings and people that are already there and we want to make sure we add to that ecosystem instead of taking away from it.

Your mission helps us do that. By knowing your “why”, we can see the big picture and understand how your building can fit best into its specific location. We take your values and the values of the location, and integrate the two so your organization is a long-term benefit to the location it’s in. 

What would your mission look like?

Talking about your mission is one of the most exciting parts of your project. It’s the dreaming and imagining phase and gets everyone excited about the possibilities and opportunities a well-designed space can open up for you. 

We’d love to meet with you and imagine how your mission could drive your building design. Give us a call at 401.400. ARCH or email us at to get started.