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Architect's role of today

Feb 12 '13 31 Last Comment
hys316
Feb 12, 13 10:00 am

Is it true that architects now days seem to have very little involvement in the design, documentation and contract administration of a building? As many work have been dedicated to consultants (structural, electrical, mechanical, landscape, hydraulic, fire services, civil) and the list goes on. Then we have specialists, lawyers and planners.
Council authority require special reports done by special qualify people for example Traffic control plan and report, building code requirement report, statement of environmental by planners ... what, are we dumb? can't we read the building code? why do we need to engage others to do these tasked?


Designing.... clients are the designer now days aren't they? They know exactly what they want and what's best for them, if we don't do what they say, they will go to someone else who will listen or even go to a draftsman. (yes I know it's our role to inspire the client and convince them to forget about their lifelong dream box home they always wanted but instead go with our fancy shape house that our tutor encourage us to do at architecture school, you know the one that gave us High Distinction and can never be built)


Many building practitioner can do exactly what an architect do for a cheaper rate because they don't have to maintain the insurance cover of an architect.


All the large scale details we take ages to design can end up out the window as soon as the builder tells the client behind our backs that we don't know what we are doing and this it is not how it's done practically in the construction world. Making us look worthless to our clients.


Project managers can take the contract administration role from an architect. They can even coordinate consultants.


Now what does that leave the architect with? picking colours? and preparing sample boards? incorporate consultants drawings into ours? no wonder clients thinks less of our service. Not to mention the interior designers are coming our way soon too.


What value does the architect have for the client, does clients even need an architect? Wouldn't it be good if there was a law that enforces all plans & reports submission will need to be signed off by a licensed architect and nobody else can do it except the architect? building designer are allowed to prepare plans and coordinate consultants drawings but they will still need an architect to sign it off...but IF only it doesn't take the responsibility away from the building designer. Project managers are allow to project manage the work but still need sign off by a licensed architect at the end. If only the institute can look after architects instead of leaving us out to dry.

yes yes I know this is all wishful thinking, maybe it might happen for the future generation.
Please share your thoughts if you're on the same page.
 

 

Steven WardSteven Ward
Feb 12, 13 10:48 am

while there are certainly plenty of instances where buildings can be built without architects, generally, yes, we still design our projects and we still facilitate their construction. i can't understand a lot of what you wrote above, but it seems a little alarmist. 

we are a service profession, despite our design bent, so a lot of time what is asked of us does not include design services. a lot of times it's ONLY design services. we do what we're asked to do. 

architects are much more than a 'sign-off', though there are also architects who have built careers out of that limited scope of service. 

it's not going to work to say ONE THING about all architects and expect that it's representative of where the profession stands. we are resourceful, adaptable, and we each find our niche. 

BulgarBlogger
Feb 12, 13 11:49 am

Guess what... the prestige of Architects in Europe is greater... and guess why? Because all those consultants you are talking about are people who actually know what they are talking about. When you go through the IDP program- most architects just sign off on hours of their draftsmen/women who don't know what the heck they are drawing. In fast-paced firms, mentors really don't tutor their staff that are pursuing their license. Eventually, the candidates pass their exams and get hours signed off in categories they have no experience in. Ultimately, we have a large pool of architects who have all gone through the same process of getting the license, but with only a handful actually knowing what they are doing. As a result, American architects are thought of as being good designers, but very few are regarded as knowing how to execute their designs. Therefore, they have to hire these "other" (often non-American and non-Architecture) consultants to come in and do the truly difficult work that makes the title ARCHITECT so prestigious in other countries... 

BulgarBlogger
Feb 12, 13 12:16 pm

Guess what... the prestige of Architects in Europe is greater... and guess why? Because all those consultants you are talking about are people who actually know what they are talking about. When you go through the IDP program- most architects just sign off on hours of their draftsmen/women who don't know what the heck they are drawing. In fast-paced firms, mentors really don't tutor their staff that are pursuing their license. Eventually, the candidates pass their exams and get hours signed off in categories they have no experience in. Ultimately, we have a large pool of architects who have all gone through the same process of getting the license, but with only a handful actually knowing what they are doing. As a result, American architects are thought of as being good designers, but very few are regarded as knowing how to execute their designs. Therefore, they have to hire these "other" (often non-American and non-Architecture) consultants to come in and do the truly difficult work that makes the title ARCHITECT so prestigious in other countries... 

hys316
Feb 12, 13 3:23 pm

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts, 
Steve, I know where you're coming from and you're right that saying ONE THING about architects is not going to represent where the entire profession stand. Because many still have yet to experience the warning signs that are slowly eating away our roles. Yes you are correct that our main service are design based and no other can do steal that from us. These new group of people known as "project managers" that clients trust to project manage their jobs from start to finish is enough said. Their main focus are meeting client budget, meeting dead lines, and of course something's got to give and guess what that is? The design....maintaining it, trying to cut corners, using alternative detailing, alternative materials etc. 

Bulgar
I  absolutely agree that education is lacking the practical side of things. Do you think it has something to do with the learning programs at architecture schools? 5+ years in total for the major and more in other countries, surely they can fit in some exercises of a real practice. I truly think it is important for real practical training at architecture schools as well as the arty farty side of things, as it benefits both the employer as well as the recent graduate when out in the work force. The learning programs at architecture school got to change but i'm not going to go there just incase it makes my blood boil. I don't understand why tutors still conveniently say "we won't need to teach you practical because you will pick it up in the work force" You mentioned more experience seniors not educating their staff who are pursuing their license. This is true and as I mentioned above, what is there to pass on to the juniors when they themselves was never passed on the knowledge in the first place because the school of architecture never taught them? 

CrazyHouseCat
Feb 12, 13 5:36 pm

American architects are not giving away responsibilities because they lack the know-how.  They are giving away bits of these services because they do not want to take on the liabilities for those responsibilities in our overly litigious society. 

This is a much larger issue than the intern development program or limitations of architecture academia. 

hys316
Feb 12, 13 7:12 pm

American architects are not giving away responsibilities because they lack the know-how. They are giving away bits of these services because they do not want to take on the liabilities for those responsibilities in our overly litigious society. 

Do you think Architects are capable in such services?

vado retro
Feb 12, 13 8:39 pm

protect yourself by having your client hire all the consultants. do you really want to be responsible for all these other aspects of the project? do you want to be responsible if joe blow falls off the building because he wasn't wearing a safety harness falls off the building and being rendered a vegetable? do you really want to fork over several million dollars for his lifelong medical care? do you really want liability for all those shop drawings? do you want to be on the site day in and day out dirtying your florsheim's? stick with drawing the pretty pictures. you'll sleep better at night.

hys316
Feb 12, 13 9:55 pm

True and true, I have a better idea, why not just shut down the practice, no liability what so ever. I thought architecture is not just about pretty drawings. When a client come up to us, do they want a building or a set of pretty plans on paper? we should be able to create a building from scratch to the finish product. maybe that way the client could value the service a little more. This should be taught and focus more in architects school and focus less on Le Corbusier chair design. Just an opinion
 

vado retro
Feb 12, 13 10:05 pm

also have your clients hire the consulting engineers from a list you've compiled and charge them a finder's fee.

BulgarBlogger
Feb 13, 13 12:08 pm

"stick with drawing the pretty pictures. you'll sleep better at night."

... not when you are starving! Just drawing pretty pictures doesn't pay the bills! Sure- with responsibility comes the possibility of risk and liability... but that is why people who take on those responsibilities also get paid more. If you are truly knowledgeable about something- why worry about the possibility of a mistake? If everyone thought that way, it would mean that engineers (for example) would never take on any projects because they would be always worried about structures falling down... I think that is a cowardly attitude stemming from inexperience and incompetence. (I am not saying you are inexperienced or incompetent). 

Rusty!
Feb 13, 13 2:22 pm

I nominate this for the dumbest post of the month.

What is even the definition of the Architect here? Architects do all kinds of jobs related to construction, but rarely all of them. Knowledge base is too wide for any single person to have anything more than a basic overview.

Perhaps you are talking about Architecture office retaining as much work in-house as possible? Sure, this happens all the time, but sometimes outsourcing to consultants makes more financial sense.

hys316
Feb 13, 13 7:35 pm

I think that is a cowardly attitude stemming from inexperience and incompetence.

A bit of laziness probably has something to do with it as well.

Rusty,
Judging by your first line of your comment with the choice or wording followed by your broad statement (Architects do all kinds of jobs related to construction, but rarely all of them. Knowledge base is too wide for any single person to have anything more than a basic overview) comes to show that you are an immature ignorant person who lack exposure to the real world. By the way Architects do not do all kinds of jobs relating to "constructions" that's the builders job.
 

Rusty!
Feb 13, 13 8:07 pm

Oh mature enlightened one:

"Is it true that architects now days seem to have very little involvement in the design, documentation and contract administration of a building?"

This is not true at all. Your thesis is in the toilet on step one.

"As many work have been dedicated to consultants (structural, electrical, mechanical, landscape, hydraulic, fire services, civil)"

Have architects ever performed any of these?

"Council authority require special reports done by special qualify people for example Traffic control plan and report, building code requirement report, statement of environmental by planners ... what, are we dumb?"

Someone's dumb here for realz!  Do you think you'd be really good at Environmental Assessments? 

I have no idea what angle/experience you are coming from, but no. Just no.

will gallowaywill galloway
Feb 13, 13 8:33 pm

rusty, you missed the end of the OP where it says to give comments only if you agree.  sounds like a republican (ooh, those fkucing republicans). 

for what its worth, totally agree with rusty, we do most of the job but not all of it.  why would we, and what's the problem with acknowledging expertise when it is useful? 

CrazyHouseCat
Feb 13, 13 9:54 pm

Another thought:

Though architects don’t really DO what the consultants do, we control and coordinate how it all comes together, which is far beyond just drawing pretty pictures.

The total effort in one of my recent 3-months design build competition, from the whole team of architects, consultants, contractors come out to be about 10 years if done by 1 person.  This is just a competition.  The mentality of do-it-all by oneself is rapidly becoming an impossibility in sizable projects of any complexity.  

Once you realized you can’t do it all, you got to choose what to focus on.  Architects tend to choose to focus on architecture.  Not a matter of capability, but choice.

hys316
Feb 13, 13 11:34 pm

As you can see, being ignorant is one thing being naive is worse.
"As many work have been dedicated to consultants (structural, electrical, mechanical, landscape, hydraulic, fire services, civil)"

Have architects ever performed any of these?
To answer your question, yes. In fact I do. I work with people with different levels of experience, those of experience way before you were born (assuming you're a young fella who has a lot to learn) The issue is when submitting plans to planning authority they will knock it back because the structural plans needed to be signed off by a structural engineer. When given the engineer the job they came back with the exact same set of plans that we prepared and a bill to the client. Only thing different is they have their title block on the drawings and a signature.


"Council authority require special reports done by special qualify people for example Traffic control plan and report, building code requirement report, statement of environmental by planners ... what, are we dumb?"
Someone's dumb here for realz! Do you think you'd be really good at Environmental Assessments?

"for realz"? what are you? a rapper? more reasons to believe you're a kid... anyway let's not get sidetrack and answer your question now shall we? It is not rocket science to write an statement of environmental effects which generally include, Property Description, Zoning & Statutory Requirements, Topography & Landscape, Surrounding Development, Development Intent, Building Description, Design Statement, Setbacks, Shadowing, Services, Noise, Waste Removal, Access & Parking, Landscaping, Energy Efficiency etc just to name a few.

council authorities make a big deal about these things now days everything need to be done by an authorized personal see how they create work for their own kind? we need a whole report size of a book to remove a dead tree now days won't we? hmmm I wonder what it will be like 30 years time.

Will, for your information I'm not a republican. I did say share your thoughts if you're on the same page but I never said you can't share your thought if you're not on the same page, you have an opinion therefore u voice it.  That's what this forum is about is it?, I'm entitled to an opinion too ;-)


Crazyhousecat
Not a matter of capability, but choice.
I agree to this of it being a "choice".

will gallowaywill galloway
Feb 14, 13 3:40 am

Then why so defensive ?

Whether you disapprove of rusty's way of communicatin he certainly cuts to the point and all you got is indignation with the reality he be shootin back at ya. He ain't saying anything different than what Steven has to say. He's just more colorful. It's his way.

Not sure why you want to do an env report? It's usually not kosher because of conflict of interest nevermind expertise. As for engineering, here all architects are licensed structural enginers but most still hire an engineer to do the structural side for applications. It's too esoteric to want to do it in addition to the design. This is not a sign of the doom of architecture by a long shot. Shit even FLW hired an engineer and that was ages ago. You want to go back to 15th century perhaps ? Seems a bit impractical

hys316
Feb 14, 13 6:14 am

^ You are smarter than that, why create drama? You know I couldnt care less if anyone come in here with a different view or even completely disagreeing with my view just like Steve , yourself and all the other people, it's interesting to get other views anyway that's why this is called a discussion forum, I can take criticism but i don't tolerate rude comments so please don't get the two mixed up. Let me spell it out for you since you can not differentiate what the difference is, Steve disagree but he did not disrespect, coming in here calling people dumb and that their view belong in the toilet? Come on you know that's got to be a joke right? If this is the way architects should speak to one another then heck the profession has changed "for realz" as the kid says. Question for you, you don't go to a real life discussion talking that way do you? I doubt anyone would so why do it here? If you do then say no more I sure know which category you  belong to.  

Not sure why you think it's a conflict of interest for an architect to write about their own design and how it impact the environment. This is what we are trained to do isn't it? We should have no problems writing out own statement of environmental effects report. 

When you say 'here' ALL architects are licensed structural engineer, where is here? As i understand, to become a qualified licensed engineer you have to sit and pass the exam and maintain CPE points every year like what we do. Maybe I'm wrong correct me if so. But why go through all that trouble in the first place. What's the point of being licensed if you never intended or have any interest to do the work I'm the first place? Makes no sense to me. Its like me saying I'm a licensed architect but I choose to hire another architect to do my work for me because I'm lazy. 

Rusty!
Feb 14, 13 2:01 pm

HEY! I may be really young and still in high school, but all the unemployed architects (my dad hired last summer to manually move some large rocks on our estate) have told me everything about the profession.

Your observations may be anecdotally correct,  just like those architects discovered they are too weak to lift heavy rocks.

hys316
Feb 14, 13 3:28 pm

*Shake my head* what has this world come down to, architects hired as rock removers, Have you asked them why they are Unemployed? not enough jobs (drawing pretty pictures only service) out there huh? I wonder if your dad hire engineers as well.

curtkram
Feb 14, 13 3:36 pm

the engineer is hired to tell the architects how to move the rocks, and the engineer's draftsperson is hired to do the engineer's job while said engineer surfs the internet (not archinect; archinect counts as work).  the 'lever' might be too complicated and modern for an architect to really understand.  also, Brunelleschi didn't use a 'truck,' so our contemporary peers understand such tools will only destroy the profession.

observant
Feb 14, 13 3:52 pm

When you say 'here' ALL architects are licensed structural engineer, where is here? As i understand, to become a qualified licensed engineer you have to sit and pass the exam and maintain CPE points every year like what we do. Maybe I'm wrong correct me if so. But why go through all that trouble in the first place. What's the point of being licensed if you never intended or have any interest to do the work I'm the first place? Makes no sense to me. Its like me saying I'm a licensed architect but I choose to hire another architect to do my work for me because I'm lazy.

There are a lot of answers here.  As I'm starting to get the vibes of the posters, you put out some sarcasm.  As for licensing, the first reason to do so is to get it out of the way.  The sooner the better.  When you speak to someone, and their SO has recently graduated from a-school and working in an office, they say he or she is an architect. That is incorrect.  Personally holding oneself out to be an architect, or anything with the prefix "arch," is technically afoul of the law.  No one will do anything about it, if in conversation, but why not get it over with?  The other things is to stamp.  In some firms, the architect doesn't have to stamp because a principal will.  In one firm I know of, the stamping responsibility was pushed down too prematurely, according to a friend of mine, who did very thorough work, but the landscape (i.e. ramifications) surrounding the use of his stamp was not well-communicated to him.  He went to work elsewhere. Lastly, there are the gland handers or rain makers.  They have a license, and went through when the only programs were B.Archs, admits were shoe ins, and they took the test after a few years ... when it was another world.  They don't care about changes in technology,  software, and education.  They only want the fun part of the job and have the "Get 'er done" attitude.  Some of these principals can pull that off for a long time or a short time, and do not involve themselves in the work, such that "shit flows downward."  Sometimes, they are well-entrenched.  Other times, they are not special "enough" and their M.O. becomes transparent ... and they get fired. 

hys316
Feb 14, 13 3:58 pm

Lol @ curtkram, so that's how they built the pyramid back in the days. I always wonder how they lift up those giant rocks

vado retro
Feb 14, 13 4:26 pm

When you say 'here' ALL architects are licensed structural engineer, where is here?- Click on Will's name and you will see that he practices in Tokyo. Even Rusty could figure this out.

hys316
Feb 14, 13 4:46 pm

Observant, in other words people work hard to obtain their license early on to get hold of the stamp and not having to be involved in the work but hire others to do the 'not so fun' work? Assuming this is "in house" we're talking about. I've work in this kind of environment before where the principle does absolutely nothing while their employees work after hours like slaves. 

My question relates to being an architect and also having an engineering license and "outsourcing" the work. Why would the "out sourced" engineer need the architect to stamp their drawings when the engineer can do it themselves therefore the architect don't get a cut of their fees. UNLESS the architect employed the engineer as a "sub consultant" where the architect takes on full responsibility of the engineers work but that's just increasing liability for work done by an out sider. In our office when we engage engineer we engage them on behalf of the client as "secondary consultants" where the client pays the engineer direct and not through us therefore get no cut but charge a small fee for the administration.

will gallowaywill galloway
Feb 14, 13 7:27 pm

rusty i knew i knew you! 

i was the unemployed architect with the flannel jacket and the super thick beard.  i was going all canadian that day cuz it makes my muscles stronger.  say hi to your dad for the work, it really took us through a hard patch.  i wouldna bin able to buy my prada shirts that month if not for that bit of lifting practice.

hey hys, sorry didn't say i'm in japan.  it sounds obnoxious so i try not to bring it up.  worked in offices in three countries and now have small firm here.  i used to do structural dwgs and basic calculations at my first job in this country.  also did the steel and concrete details and so on as a way of getting to understand how buildings would stand up.  my boss thought that was essential training.  we also had an old dude who did the mech dwgs in house, and the rest of the staff were architects.  it was a great experience but i still don't want to do it on a daily basis.  it was part of my training not part of the duties i take on now.  seriously  it is too much work and not worth my time. so we hire a really good engineer and we are thrilled to be working with the guy we usually use, cuz hes fucking awesome. 

its like rem and cecil. bringing in people with different skills but similar ambitions on a project means you get to do something you couldn't do on your own, it doesn't make you smaller.  so no i ain't got any problem extending our office's abilities by bringing in consultants and even partners.  try to see things from polllyana's point of view.  it will perhaps make your life easier.

poor rusty will be stuck pouting at the watercooler his dad set up in the back yard with those fucking huge stones, but you can't please everyone.

Rusty!
Feb 14, 13 9:09 pm

Uncle Gally!

Everyone fondly remembers you here at the ranch. Dad still says "Show me a Caterpillar rock truck, and I'll show you a Canadian ". I still wish you didn't touch me down there, but I have kept my promise about our little secret.

I painted you a watercolor! 

hys316
Feb 15, 13 2:00 am

"Uncle Gully... I still wish you didn't touch me down there, but I have kept my promise about our little secrete" <--- comment of the month 

Japan has very interesting architecture I would love to work there one day. 

Btw Will, I'm not only talking about engineering but never mind. What I'm interested to know is in your mind do you see clients value the architectural service more now than they value it 30-40 years ago?

observant
Feb 15, 13 2:52 am

Uncle Gally!

Everyone fondly remembers you here at the ranch. Dad still says "Show me a Caterpillar rock truck, and I'll show you a Canadian ". I still wish you didn't touch me down there, but I have kept my promise about our little secret.

This is hilarious.  And I thought that was city slicker stuff reserved for YVR, YYZ, and YUL, and impossible in the prairie provinces of the Maple Leaf country.

will gallowaywill galloway
Feb 16, 13 12:54 am

hey i told you that was an accident, rusty.  thank goodness this forum is anonymous.

 

@ hys, i have no idea. im barely 30-40 years old.  i suspect architects have always been held in suspicion for their wild liberal ways and their ability to talk to beautiful people without drooling.

hys316
Feb 16, 13 3:46 am

^ good answer, as I expected

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