Architecture/Hello sir

Advertisement


Question
QUESTION: can u tell Why to become an architect ?

ANSWER: You must become an architect if you have an over-developed sense of responsibility.  If you want to be blamed for everything that goes wrong during construction, this career is the perfect choice for you.  If you want to see great designs being built without everything you added to make it look nice because the building owner says he does not want to pay for "extra aesthetics", sign yourself up.  If you like spending more time to become an architect than it does to become a surgeon, look for no other career path.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you sir .

U said
"If you want to be blamed for everything that goes wrong during construction, this career is the perfect choice for you"
So far i don't let anyone other than my boss , point out any mistake in my work. And i don't let the construction flaw to be blamed on me. DO u thinks i am missing anything by doing so ?
I am working in field since 5 months now , after graduation in architecture.

Answer
Mahreen,

Yes, construction flaws are the result of a careless contractor.  But keep in mind that it is human nature for that careless contractor to point the finger at someone else.  Being an architect is to be the leader that everyone looks to for guidance.  And when things go wrong, the contractor (or building owner) will naturally blame the smartest person involved and say that if you (or another representative of the architecture firm) had been on the job site then you (or your boss) could have prevented the mistake.

Owners buy cheaper equipment than what you specified.  The purchase electrical equipment that does not work because a single phase motor does not work with a three phase power system.  So, they blame you.

Owners decide that a food court will have five separate kitchen exhaust hoods rather than the four that your mechanical engineer integrated with one large make up air unit.  The owner does not tell you or your mechanical engineer.  The result is a negative air pressure that sucks sewer gases up through the floor drains and stinks up the restaurant for the first week of business.  During that week that they are struggling to figure out why their restaurant stinks, they need to blame someone.  Unfortunately, they will not blame themselves.  And I find it curious that the architect is often to blame for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing problems.  Do people not understand the difference between the architect and the engineer?  No, they do not.

Your construction plans were thick and thorough. Your building official was also thorough during his plan review and your plans are nearly perfect.  But your field inspector working for the local authority having jurisdiction has a more restrictive interpretation of the building code.  He makes the contractor disassemble and rebuild something than is based on his OPINION rather than anything that you could ever find in the written building code.  You try to point out that the field inspector was wrong to enforce his OPINION which goes beyond the legal minimum required by code.  But the contractor and owner have already agreed that you (or your boss) did not ask the right questions during your preliminary code review.  What do you say in your defense?  You could have asked for a meeting with each and every field inspector before the plans were completed to ensure that you understood the individual "philosophy" of each and every field inspector.  But why would you need to do something so ridiculous?  Because this discrepancy occurs frequently.  That is why.  And whenever two building officials disagree with one another, the one with the more restrictive interpretation of the building code will over-rule the building official who does not want to appear "liberal" or less-than-safe.

Whenever this occurs, then consider yourself fortunate if you have a boss that will defend you rather than allow his client to believe that you were reprimanded for "your mistake".  Currently I work for myself and I have people who work for me.  I shoulder ALL of the blame and I am fortunate enough that my clients do not pressure me to pay for things that are truly my fault (a garage door that is too small for the opening).  And my clients have had clearer thinking after I offer to share the cost for something that could have been prevented by anyone on the team.

Be a "team leader" and look for every opportunity to contribute to the overall effort.  Pretend that you want everyone to vote for you as the most valuable player.  Make reasonable sacrifices without getting upset when other people point their finger at you when something does not come together the way it was planned.  Being an architect requires your skin to be as thick as mule hide.  Feel free to get angry but never raise your voice.  People will trust you more than the person who loses their composure and they will ask to work with you on future projects.

Again, if you have a great boss, then he will shield you from politics.  He will shield you from false accusations related to the simple fact that he trusted you to do something very important while you have only five months of experience.  He might choose not tell you some things that are being said behind your back.  That would be a good boss and I have worked for a few bosses like that.  They allow people like you and me to make honest mistakes and learn from those mistakes.  

I don't know what the legal climate is where you are working, but here in the United States, the average architect is sued in the court of law once every 20 years.  That is current average but it is getting worse.  What is interesting is that the typical law suit has very little to do with something that the architect did wrong.  There are many other reasons why architects defend themselves in court and it is unfortunate that our professional liability insurance agents would rather pay off the emotionally irrational building owner a negotiated sum of money.  Because the amount of money required to settle out of court is thought to be less than what it would cost to pay an attorney to prove that you did nothing wrong and you did everything right.  Judges rely on expert witnesses because they do not pretend to understand our businesses.  Expert witnesses cost just as much money as the attorneys.  If you are in this business long enough (let's say 20 years) you will understand first-hand what I am talking about.  After you have used your professional liability insurance for the first time, your insurance company will force you to either pay an extremely high premium ($30,000 instead of $6,000) or find another insurance agency.

I trust that you chose to become an architect for all of the right reasons.  Because we love to design and see that our designs suit the needs of the building user in ways that they will never fully appreciate.  Because it is a task that demands all of our talent and effort.  It is extremely demanding and rewarding.  The amount of pay is never commensurate with the amount of technical knowledge and experience required to do our job well.  The job requires intrinsic motivation - not money.  The prestigious title "architect" is not worth the trouble we deal with.  The person who wanted to become an architect so that they can tell other people what to do will find that they are always being told what to do and to do it faster.  It is certainly difficult when you find yourself working for either a large business or husband and wife.  One person tells you that they want that custom thing bigger while the other person is telling you that they want it smaller.  One says "highest quality" while the other one says "most affordable".  You fail to get the two people to compromise but you deliver the final design according to schedule.  Eventually the thing gets built and one of those two people are now blaming you for not listening to what they were asking for.

Get my point?

I hope that I have not discouraged you in any way.  But I do ask that you keep your eyes wide open for these types of challenges.  They are normal.

I love what I do as an architect because I am good at what I do.  It has been a long, hard journey to get to a place where I really enjoy it.

Good luck!

Richard Burton, AIA
Registered Architect
ICC Certified Plan Reviewer
NFPA Certified Fire Plan Examiner
www.arrow-architecture.com

Architecture

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Richard Burton AIA

Expertise

A combined total of 25 years experience with construction, architecture, and building code enforcement. Ask me about residential and commercial design. Ask me about design aesthetics, structural methods, and building something that will withstand severe weather conditions. Ask me my opinion about YOUR design ideas and I will tell you the merits of good design and challenge your thinking about practical issues. Ask me how to best find and work with your local architect and approach general contractors to get the most value for the least amount of headaches. You can ask me about improving your energy efficiency and things that are both green and practical. But don't ask me about solar panels and wind turbines unless you are currently paying your utility company 35 cents per Kilowatt. Otherwise the math does not justify the initial cost and return on investment. Ask me any building code question and how to get a building permit from the most difficult enforcement agencies.

Experience

Here in the midwest, we design and build "green" in ways that make sense. My construction methods prioritize weather resistance, ease of maintenance and durability. While a graduate student in San Diego, I taught drafting and history of architecture. After working ten years for other architecture firms, I have started my firm Arrow Architecture in 2008. More than half of my work involves commercial office buildings. But my portfolio of work also includes custom homes, residential additions, home remodels, and second story additions.

Organizations
President-Elect of American Institute of Architects - Lincoln, NE

Education/Credentials
B.S. Architecture - (Interior Design) University of Nebraska Lincoln 1997 Master of Architecture - (Urban Design and Professional Practice) NewSchool of Architecture - San Diego 2004 Graduated Summa Cum Laude ICC Certified Building Plans Examiner

Awards and Honors
AIA Henry Adams Medal and Certificate

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.