Choosing Between Modern and Heritage Buildings for Professional Services

Lindsay J. McCunn, University of Washington Tacoma
Robert Gifford


The role of building façades in the consumer choice process is not well understood but arguably influences consumers' first impressions of a business and the level of service provided by the professional working within. In two studies, photographs representing exteriors of two building types (purpose-built office and converted heritage house) were shown to participants who chose between them for hypothetical dental, legal, financial, and medical services and assessed them for expected comfort and quality of service. In Study 1, students preferred office buildings for all services. In Study 2, community residents also preferred office buildings for dental, financial, and medical services but not for legal services. In both studies, participants had more experience with office buildings compared to heritage houses for all four services and anticipated more comfort and service quality in offices, especially for dental, financial, and medical services compared legal services. However, more comfort was expected by those in Study 2 when considering legal services over the other three services in heritage houses. Although office buildings are commonly experienced and preferred as settings of professional practice, heritage houses can be legible as places to access comfortable, quality service.