Contributed by Elias Saltz
By naming it “Let’s Fix Construction,” this project set forth the premise that construction is broken, or at least not operating optimally. To support the premise that construction needs fixing, I suggest it’s necessary to back up and determine what we believe are actually out of order.
I come to this project from a professional vantage point: that of an architectural school grad and an employee at architectural firms. I have been working my whole 22-year career in design firms; I’ve moved from intern to project architect to project manager and to full-time specifier. That means that I’ve been experiencing only one part of the story, but I have gotten pretty familiar with that one side.
The facility design and construction process (at least in the traditional design-bid-build or design-negotiate-build methods) is for the most part driven by the architect. The architect is the one who is presented the project goals by the Owner and is tasked with generating the design and construction documents and then helping to facilitate its execution. In this architect-centric view, the responsibility to faithfully and skillfully execute the work lies with the architect. The architect comes up with the conceptual design and develops that design, adding more and more technical detail, coordinating the work of engineering and other consultants, incorporating information from myriad sources into one package and shepherding that package through procurement and entitlement, until the job can be built by a contractor. The architect maintains responsibility through construction, working to verify that the project is being built so that it conforms to the design.
As the center of all that activity, the architect is the source of (or at least contributing to) many problems that, if solved, would go a long way toward ‘fixing’ construction. For the remaining part of this post I will describe what I see are some of the most serious of those problems, and hope for other stakeholders to add their own later. The words “many, but not all” should of course be a given in front of each item below.
The idea that we’re going to fix construction means that these and other problems should be identified, given serious thought individually and collectively, and only then I think should solutions be proposed. I look forward to working to affect the changes that the industry so desperately needs.
Let's Fix Construction is an avenue to offer creative solutions, separate myths from facts and erase misconceptions about the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.
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