Although one always expects to get a wow reaction to the "delight" of a successfully finished project, I have found that we typically hear, "Wow, I never would have thought of that!" much earlier in the design process. The decisions and solutions derived during programming, concept, and schematic design make all of the difference in achieving that rewarding expression of delight in the end.
I find that we receive the most appreciation for the innovative thought that an architect brings to the process when we are working on addition and renovation projects for existing buildings. These are the places where people have been living and working and confronting the limitations of their built environment every day. They wear the blinders of familiarity, and have a hard time seeing beyond what is there. They often can tell you how the current spaces do not work, and they sometimes even imagine adding space to fix their problems. However, they rarely see the possibilities of radically changing the configuration and use of existing spaces or reorienting how you approach, enter, and move through the building.
The reorientation of entry and the rethinking of how space is used is what has consistently given our firm its greatest success in all sorts of building types and with all sorts of clients, from first project homeowners to more sophisticated facilities managers. We have employed this strategy in office and restaurant tenant finish, hospitality, educational, and residential work, and sometimes all it takes is a simple rotation in how you enter a vestibule. Although it is far from rocket science, it is when we are most likely to hear, "I never would have thought of that."