May 16, 2010

Flexible engineers ROCK!

Why is working with engineers important? What is the purpose of forming solid relationships with the engineers? Why is it important to create a history with an engineer?

Randy, Jon, and I sat around the conference table and talked about Randy’s experience with engineers.

In the process of design, there is a time to discuss issues such as; mechanical, electrical, structural, and civil. Throughout Randy’s architectural career, he has worked with many engineers that were way too rigid and set in there ways-  they have one way of doing things – my way or the highway.  Finding a consultant who is open minded and is willing to compromise is difficult.  Visionary and creative……….priceless.   So when Randy found an engineer who would make joint decisions, he develops solid relationships with them.

While working with engineers, it is important to develop strong relationships.  Good relationships between the architect and engineer are significant for multiple reasons. The first reason is learning to work together.  In Randy’s case, he developed a great relationship with Infrastructure structural engineers, who we are using on the Kobe project. Because of this understanding, the consultants will seek solutions that please everyone. They work with us to create the architecture and solve the problems in ways that improve the architecture.  This leads to a better design.

Another reason it is important to develop a solid relationship with the engineer is to create a history. Randy can ask the consultant to figure out a detail similar to a previous project they have both worked on.   This history allows the consultant to have a better understanding of what Randy is trying to accomplish. Having this history helps communication.

Engineers and Architects think in different ways and from different perspectives. Architects like to design and think in an artistic way, whereas engineers think in a functional and logical way. Continuing to work with the same engineers builds a working dialogue. An example of this happened this week. We have been working with a civil engineer on a site plan and came upon a few issues. The civil consultant wanted to reorient the dumpster because it made sense in his mind. But, if the dumpster moves in orientation it would affect the building design, the spatial idea from the street and the signage area. After explaining the purpose of how we had detailed the dumpster, the civil engineer considered our idea and made it work with his grading and concrete pavement water movement.

History can created a greater understanding of what is wanted in future projects. If you have worked with an engineer on many projects it will become easier for the engineer to understand the ideas described to them. Communication between the architect and engineer strengthen with each project.

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