I’ve nothing new to share or teach about the profession today.
What I’m doing is at worst venting, at best being transparent. Today, I’m simply sharing that I’m thinking about disappointment.
For those of you who are not architects, but who might use our services, you need to choose an architect who can communicate clearly. Have high expectations of us.
Today’s prompt relates to the production of our work and in this case would be our documents – or what some call drawings. Everyone knows architects create drawings – in some cases you might call an architect to “get some drawings made.” What are you buying? Well, actually you’re not buying drawings, but you ARE paying for a service whose result culminates in a set of documents. These need to be clear, concise, and correct. They need to demonstrate that WE know how to construct the crazy things we’ve imagined.
Without sharing sources, last week I had interactions with people that shared stories where architects failed (in my opinion) to deliver a quality service to their client. No I don’t expect anyone to be accountable to me. I just hold a high standard for our profession; one for which I can only reasonably hold myself.
This story goes back decades, but what sparked my rant is an instance about an architecture firm that is deemed as a “good design firm” (supposedly validated by their plethora of awards), yet on more than one occasion, more than one person involved in a project of theirs relayed to me what poor construction documents they produced. I don’t just mean a bit untidy, I mean lacking important engineering content, missing very specific information and those involved in the construction end have had to recreate or re-engineer key parts of the project. In fact, I believe the expectation was for others to “figure out” the specifics of what they “designed.”
Personally I can’t have that said about me or my firm. If you call me, I pledge to give you so much more.
I’m not perfect and no one expects that as a standard, so let’s not falsely develop an unrealistic expectation. Let’s also not go down the path about indicting contractors for their sins either. That’s not what I am looking for from any of us. However, it eats at me to see architects get adulation when the end result on which they are judged was successful because someone else saved their…
I started my career in an era where digital tools were in their infancy. I drew by hand and was mentored how to create a set of documents. I learned early to make a one to one correlation between a graphic and the reality.
For years now, I have had several contractors share with me positive feedback about my drawings and documents being clear, thorough and containing necessary content. They’ve typically shared this when the “current set” on their desk if full of inconsistencies or are simply unclear, and in some case lacking critical information.
I’m sure I have some fluff at times, over detail the wrong part of the building and yes, I even miss things on occasion. I’m guilty as anyone and it upsets me when I miss even the smallest thing. However, I consciously work at providing drawings that are more than pretty images. They need to be first of all clear and communicative. After all, they are a graphic language, mixed with actual language to communicate a complex series of instructions and intentions to someone who is a stranger to the project. Then we expect them to construct it to the exactness imagined in our minds. That is not being professional.
Maybe the relevant question is do we even know how to build it? Don’t answer that if you’re an architect.
Architects need to produce clarity regardless of fee, regardless of schedule, regardless.