Architects and engineers are essential members of nearly every building project. There are not many jobs where you will not need the skill sets of the two. The division of labor between architects and engineers is a well known and accepted concept, but have you ever believed, who directs the project?
For anyone in the building, this might appear clear, but it happened to me it might not be as evident to everyone else. So today I needed to have a moment to go over the differences between an architect and an engineer and explain why one is extremely qualified to direct another.
Before I jump into the meat of the discussion, I wish to talk about an experience I had a few years back. A higher education customer was devoting their university’s central power plant. Given the significant engineering this project demanded, the Owner picked an engineer that had been exceptionally proficient with the various construction systems impacted by the job. The firm was hired directly from the operator and set up to lead the project. The engineer realized that although the job was primarily an engineering project, many architectural elements would also be impacted. Not needing any in-house architects, the firm turned into an outside architect and hired them as a sub-consultant together with the principal engineer at the lead.
The firm I was within the time received the award to supply the architectural services. I had been assigned the job and worked with the engineer to complete this undertaking. This was the only project I ever worked on in which the architect didn’t have the lead role.
It was the single worst project experience I have ever had.
I have plenty of friends that are engineers. My wife is just one. Many of my closest friends are engineers. This usually means that I have endured decades of jabs about architects and typically being the only architect in the room, I have no recourse but to laugh along. The truth is that architects do push the boundaries of engineering. Often to the point of mockery. We tend to do this out of ignorance. After all, we certainly do not know each system how our engineer coworkers do. There were new home case studies and new build homes Oxfordshire in Heyford Park new homes.
Regardless of this, there’s one thing my fellow engineers don’t fully appreciate. Without proper coordination and equilibrium between all the engineered parts, the whole project would fail to come along.
Coordination between the various construction systems is a vital part of each undertaking. If left undone, a deficiency in coordination stands to wreak havoc throughout construction and subject the owner to modify orders, additional expenses, and flaws.
It might surprise some to hear that most architects are responsible for the coordination of engineering systems.
To be able to better comprehend this, it’s important to review the education, training, and assessments required of architects and compare that to the education, training, and examinations required of engineers.
Engineers begin their academic careers in overall engineering classes but shortly concentrate their education in one of many important disciplines. An engineering student may select a major in Mechanical, Electrical, or Civil engineering (just to list a couple ). Every one of these concentrations focuses on education on a specific set of physical properties in which students specialize. After graduation, those who opt to enter construction, learn to apply those concepts to particular building systems aligned with their engineering major. If it is time to be a licensed Professional Engineer, the assessments required by licensing boards are tailored to the engineering field. In short during an engineer’s career, the concentration they choose stays with them during their lives. I will not make a blanket statement stating that engineers do not know more than one area, but I shall say I have encountered very few who practice or even dabble into a different.
On the other hand, along with core design and architecture theory classes, architecture students are required to attend several years of classes in construction, building systems, and construction training. When a student graduates, among the primary duties (pun intended) assigned is detailing bathrooms (where all construction systems come together). When it comes time for licensure, an architect must pass a series of examinations (seven at last count) that comprise building systems and structural processes.
In short, the sole accredited professional in the design team that’s educated in all of the main systems of a building is your architect.
On my catastrophic old-school job, the engineer did such a poor job of communicating, that his own people would come to meetings frequently oblivious of the impacts that change in another in-house engineering field needed on their work. Often these men sat across the aisle from one another.
I surely did not understand it at the moment, but the proprietor’s mistake of selecting the engineer as the project lead doomed that project to collapse.
It seems like a reasonable assumption that on a job that is primarily about replacing construction systems, the engineer could take the lead, so I don’t fault the proprietor for making that assumption.
I know what a folly that decision can be and hope I have helped some of you avoid this mistake.
Currently, every time I am forced to hear another architect joke from one of my brazen engineer friends, I take solace in the fact that without me, the various systems they are such experts in could neglect to suit their intended function.
I trust you now have a better understanding of the interplay between engineers and architects. Next week we will discuss whether it’s better to hire each one directly or have one subcontract another.
Comments are closed