contact maria lorena lehman

send your message

Thank you! Your submission has been received!

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form

spECIAL MASTERCLASS: Design concept formulation


Join Now to learn my HPA Design Formula to improve your architectural design concept formulations. This formula will help bring your mindset, skillset, and project design results to new heights. Plus, get the Design Insight Digest, FREE.


How to Know When Your Project is Complete: From Satisfaction to Fulfillment

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

‍Image Credit: © Foundry | Pixabay


I was surprised by the number one question architects asked me during a recent survey I conducted. They wanted to know “Should I ever be completely satisfied with my architectural design project? And how do I know when to be satisfied with it?” These are both very good questions, and they each led me to think even more deeply about my own creative design process. The following is how I think about design project completion and satisfaction.


As a designer, you always want to feel that you did your best to solve for a given design challenge. And you want to feel that your design will help people to uplift their lives in new way(s). But how do you know when to feel satisfied with your design? In other words, how do you know when it is complete?

First, I would like to exchange the word “satisfied” with the word “fulfilled”. It may help you to think about how your design project fulfills your vision, your efforts, and your clients/occupants’ needs. To me, the word satisfied seems to imply that your design project is “good enough”, while the word “fulfilled” implies that the design project is meeting a higher standard that pushes you, as a designer, to stretch and grow your talents and skills. With this in mind, it may help you to ask a different question: “How do I know when my design is fulfilling its potential? And how do I know when I am fulfilling my potential as a designer?” The two latter questions are deeper questions, that will help you as an architect to create a compass by which to create “next level” architectural designs.


Of course, you can always work to improve your design solution – making it better and better through your iterative design process. And this can happen within one project, or over the course of your career (from project to project). As you may know, design is a process, and finding the solutions that work within your process is key to reaching a “completion point” within a project’s design development.

This leads us to the following answer:

Yes, it is great to reach a point within a project when your design has fulfilled your clients/occupants needs, your own needs to stretch your talent and skillset, and your career goals to grow as each project you do is better than the last. Experience helps you to learn, grow, and evolve as a designer. You should strive to reach that important “fulfillment point” in a project where it brings significant innovative benefits. I think this type of fulfillment is best to use as a measure of “completeness” – rather than your own fuzzy measure of personal satisfaction.  For me, fulfillment brings a certain type of satisfaction but also a motivation and inspiration to do more – perhaps, even better.






what members are saying...
Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
read more testimonials
blog article categoriesresearch designs

Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

maria lorena lehman, as seen in...
featured posts
From The Studio

A Filmmaking Tool for Dynamic Architectural Design

The link between architectural design and film is an important one. But have you ever thought about using the tools and process that filmmakers use to help you visualize your architectural design during its initial concept development stage?

Sense of Place

Using New Mediums to Shift Architectural Paradigms

By exploring the poetics of space through writing, painting, and modeling or sculpting (digitally or by hand) – one discovers moments where space transcends to heighten human experience. The latter mediums are ways to capture this somewhat transient event; and through the act of capturing these, one can see more deeply into the dynamics of what makes a space transcendent.

Design Process

How to Analyze Your Sketchbook (to Grow Design Results)

Your sketchbook holds a world of useful insight that you can use to push your design process even further. Thinking is a critical part of design, and a sketchbook helps you to unlock how you can exponentially improve your own design thinking. How do you use your sketchbook to design? What pages are your favorite? And how can you strengthen your sketchbook system?