Architects and engineers are essential members of nearly every construction project. There are not many projects where you won’t want the ability sets from the two. The division of labor between architects and engineers is a well-known and approved concept, but have you ever believed, who leads the project?
For anyone in the building, this may seem obvious, but it happened to me it may not be as obvious to everybody 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 exceptionally qualified to lead the other.
Before I jump into the meat of this discussion, I wish to talk about an experience I had a few years ago in a project house for rent in Bicester. A higher education customer was devoting their university’s central power plant. Given the significant engineering this project required, the Owner picked an engineer who had been exceptionally skilled with the various building systems impacted by the project. The firm was hired directly by the operator and set up to lead the project. The engineer realized that while the project was mostly an engineering endeavor, many architectural elements would also be affected. Not having any in-house architects, the company turned into an external architect and hired them as a sub-consultant together with the principal engineer in the guide.
The company I was within the time obtained the award to supply the architectural services and Heyford Park Village Green Collection. I had been assigned the project and worked together with the engineer to finish new homes in Oxfordshire and this undertaking. This was the only job I worked on in which the architect didn’t have the lead role.
It was the single worst job experience I have ever had.
I have a lot of friends that are engineers. My wife is just one. A number of my closest friends are engineers. This usually means that I have endured decades of jabs about architects and generally being the only architect in the room, I don’t have any recourse but to laugh. The fact remains that architects do push the boundaries of engineering. Often to the point of mockery. We tend to do so from ignorance. After all, we certainly do not understand each system of how our engineer colleagues do.
Regardless of this, there’s one thing my fellow engineers do not fully appreciate. Without proper coordination and equilibrium between all the engineered components, the entire project would fail to come along.
Coordination between the various building systems is a vital part of each undertaking. If left reversed, a lack 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 misuse of engineering systems.
To be able to better understand this, it is important to reassess the education, training, and examinations required of architects and compare that to the education, training, and assessments required of engineers.
Engineers start their academic careers in overall engineering classes however soon focus their education on one of several important disciplines. An engineering student may select a major in Mechanical, Electrical, or Civil engineering (just to name a few). Every one of these concentrations concentrates on education on a particular set of physical properties where students focus. After graduation, people who choose to go into the building, learn to apply those concepts to specific building systems aligned using their engineering major. If it comes time to be a licensed Professional Engineer, the assessments required by licensing boards are tailored to the engineering field. In summary throughout an engineer’s profession, the concentration they choose stays with them during their lives. I will not create a blanket statement stating that engineers don’t know more than one discipline, but I shall say I have encountered very few who practice or even dabble into another.
On the other hand along with center design and architecture theory courses, architecture students are required to attend several years of classes in structures, construction systems, and construction training. When a student graduates, among the primary responsibilities (pun intended) delegated, is detailing baths (where all construction systems come together). When it comes time to get licensure, an architect must pass a set of examinations (seven at last count) that include building systems and structural systems.
In summary, the sole licensed professional at the design team that is educated in all of the major systems of a building is the architect.
On my disastrous old university project like new homes Oxfordshire and houses for rent Bicester, the engineer did such a bad job of coordination, his own people would come to meetings often oblivious of the consequences that change in a different in-house engineering discipline needed in their job. Often these men sat across the aisle from one another.
I surely didn’t understand it at the moment, but the Owner’s mistake of selecting the engineer as the project lead doomed that job to failure.
It looks like a sensible assumption that on a project that’s primarily about replacing building systems, the engineer would take the lead, therefore that I do not fault the owner for making that assumption.
I know what a folly that decision could be and hope I have helped a few of you avoid this mistake.
Now, each time I am forced to hear a different architect joke from one of my brazen engineer buddies, I take solace in the fact that with no me, the many systems they are such experts in could neglect to match 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 is far better to employ each one straight or have one subcontract another.