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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Over Passionate Young Architects.

I have been very busy in school and the posts recently have been a mix between some of my own tutorials and posts of other information. I would like to finally take the time and type some good old fashion editorials.

The first topic I would like to shed my opinion and knowledge on is a comment to my recent repost of a Design Intelligent article. Alan, this is absolutely not hard feeling towards you... Your comment just spiked some interesting ideas in my head and I thank you for that. Alan writes:

"Why am I reading this and thinking it sounds like a profile of a Bond villain?

Sounds like a collection of power crazy ego maniacs, or perhaps just over passionate young architects!

Sorry Jeff could not resist....."

The main reason I chose to share this article with my readers is it's overall intent. The first keyword that jumped out at me when I read the article was "master builder". The basis of the article, and the meeting spoken about in the article, is the architects role in the communication and collaboration efforts of construction. In school the architectural professors, who are usually practicing architects, preach the idea of how the architect is responsible of every task from the specifications to the cost estimation. Is this really true? Where does the responsibility of the architect end and other parties begins? Why am I not taught this in school?

I took a class a few semesters back called "Construction Documents". Half of the semester was spent diving deep into the AIA Contract Documents. Including the contract between the owner and architect, the architect and contractor, and so on... That's right... Because of this class I read every Article in the AIA Documents. In retrospective I am glad that I did.

Ultimately, what did I learn from that class? I learned how an Architect can cover his or her butt when something goes wrong. The overall tone of the documents that I read in entirety was protection. Protection of lawsuits if something goes wrong. If something goes wrong between the day the architect meets the client for the first time until the day of occupancy and on...

Returning to the earlier idea of "master builder". First, the origins of the word master builder:

"The master builder, who planned and directed the erection of the pyramids and other great structures, occupied a high position in society. Ancestor of the modern architect and engineer, he was a trusted court noble and adviser to the ruler. He directed a host of subordinates, superintendents, and foremen, each with his scribes and recorders (Encyclopedia Britannica)."

This definition creates the idea of a "master builder" being much more of a general contractor in today's society. I have been studying the idea of integrated project delivery (IPD) and building information modeling (BIM) quite a bit lately. The interesting idea with the introduction of IPD is the shared interest and benefits of the success of the project instead of a separation in roles that encourages the personal benefit for each party involved (as in traditional contractual approaches). Where do architects fit in?

I find the idea's of the Design Intelligence's article promising. Promising in the idea that students, like me, are discussing these topics. With the introduction of all these new programs, methods, and technology we need to be thinking about how it will effect our profession. Additionally, who WILL be the forefront of this "revolution"? Will it be the architects, contractors, engineers...? I think that the over passionate and "egocentric" young architect has the power to be at the forefront. The term "master builder" has not been used since ancient time but it could be common dialect again one day. What will the role of the master builder be today? These are all ideas worth discussing. Perhaps the over passionate young architect needs to stand up and be the leader, communicator, and collaborator.