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Field Report

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by Bruce Adibyazdi

It may seem like a simple proposition. You need a building designed, so you hire an architect.

The architect you hire prepares drawings and specifications for your building, and when you receive the documents they appear, on the surface, to have all been prepared by the same professional. And indeed they may have been.

Some architectural firms have in-house engineering departments, but the majority of architectural firms subcontract the engineering work to other professionals.

There are pros and cons of having in-house engineering; some say you have more control and better coordination over in-house engineers. It could also be argued the other way; that firms that contract their engineering have more flexibility in choosing an engineer right for the job. Also, the fact that the architect is the engineers' client could give the architect a little more bargaining power over fees and schedules.

From the owner's perspective, either relationship is an acceptable means of delivering the services. Where we as architects and engineers get into one of the pitfalls of our professions is when the owner decides to hire these services out individually instead of through the architect.

There are many engineering disciplines and other professionals that architects hire in order to help them deliver a project. The major ones are:

?Civil engineers for surveys, site work, and stormwater management.

?Structural engineers for the foundations and structural framing.

?Mechanical and electrical engineers to design and layout the piping, heating, air conditioning and lighting.

?Landscape architects for developing landscape plans and irrigation systems

?Interior designers and contract furnishings consultants.

There are other specialty disciplines, that, depending on the project requirements, could also be brought into the picture. Lighting, acoustical, environmental and graphics design are just a few of the related fields that a particular project might require. There are many, many more.

My point is that the owner relies on the architect to coordinate the work of other professionals contributing to the building.

This is a huge task: Making sure that structural and architectural components work together; that ductwork and lighting are appropriate for each space and the distribution of such can be concealed; that the landscape architect does not place a spruce tree adjacent to the security guard's window; and that the color of the furniture or artwork does not clash with the color of specified windows.

These are just a sampling of coordination issues that architects deal with daily. If the owner decides that these professionals can be hired separately, then he or she takes on some of the responsibility for coordinating these efforts.

In short, ask your architect if he or she has any recommendations for hiring other professionals. And if you plan to contract other services for a building, let your architect know. It could save you a headache the day you start moving in and your telephone vendor realizes there is not enough room for his equipment to go in the closet, and it ends up in your waiting room.

(Bruce Adibyazdi, AIA, is a partner with Butler, Rosenbury & Partners.)


Numerous engineering and architectural needs arise when completing a building project.[[In-content Ad]]


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