Training the doers “The core of our program,” says Sive, “is instilling in architects and engineers a sensitivity that it’s their responsibility to understand how clients perceive them and want to communicate.” This requires getting cooperation from the entire staff. Firm leaders should communicate this, not only through instruction but also by example. Sive and Strong have adopted the motto, “Be a magnet, not a stick.” If leaders show sensitivity to their staff, their “internal clients,” they will, in effect, pull people toward following their example. This works better than “bludgeoning” them into compliance. Care in internal communications also expresses
During economic downturns, when construction slows and competition for projects intensifies, architects may work so hard at attracting new jobs that they neglect their existing client base. Instead of taking their all-important repeat clients for granted, architects should be doing all they can to prevent them from being wooed away by competing firms. One key to this lies in improving the interpersonal relationships between architects and owners, even when they’re between projects. According to Seattle-based AEC consultant Theodore Sive, design professionals are good at satisfying the technical demands of their complex jobs. However, he says, “When they get focused on
Technology caveats Even as existing technologies become more routine, there is still a lot to learn about when to use which ones. It’s not uncommon for an employee to spend 15 minutes composing an e-mail message when the question can be answered in a 15-second phone call. And the moderating cues we pick up from each others’ voices are notoriously absent from e-mail. People can misunderstand hastily written messages and take offense where none is meant. Rich Nitzsche, AIA, principal and chief information officer of Perkins+Will says, “In this firm, we encourage people to pick up the phone instead of
When the Hudson Bay Company began sending traders to the New World in the 17th century, it developed protocols for managing a distributed workforce that are pertinent today. The small headquarters staff in London chose independent adventurers capable of self-sufficiency, but they provided mentoring and training. Importantly, the company stayed in communication — as best they could when annual letters to and from the traders arrived by schooner. The lesson learned? “We call it the balance of trust and control,” says Cliff S. Moser, AIA, operations director of the Los Angeles firm Cadforce, which facilitates communications between U.S. architecture and
When the Wall Street bailout plan initially failed to pass in the House of Representatives in late September, Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell quickly amended it with sweeteners to attract more congressional votes. Among the sweeteners were several energy-related tax incentives that had previously stalled, primarily because the House and Senate couldn’t agree on how to fund them. The revised bailout bill, H.R. 1424, officially known as the “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008,” did pass and includes several items of interest to architects and their clients. One is a five-year extension, to 2013, of the portion of
In an effort to foster best practices for integrated project delivery (IPD) and design-build, the American Institute of Architects is publishing six new documents. Two are contract documents coordinated with C195-2008, or the Standard Form Single Purpose Entity (SPE) Agreement for IPD, issued earlier this year. C195 sets up a limited liability company that contracts with a team to design and construct a project. The new documents, C196-2008 and C197-2008, enable the SPE to contract with its owner- and nonowner-members. C196 makes the owner a collaborating partner and spells out the terms for funding the SPE. C197 specifies services and
Disputes happen; whether over assigning responsibility for mistakes or rectifying payment schedules, they’re a fact of life in the construction industry. But they need not lead to bitterness or lengthy and expensive court battles. Standard AIA contracts provide an easier means of solution, through mediation, which gives architects, clients, contractors, and their lawyers an opportunity to take a creative, cooperative approach to problem resolution.
Three new books offer inspiration and practical advice for integrated, high-performance design. Integrated Design in Contemporary Architecture, by Kiel Moe. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2008, 208 pages, $65. Green Building Through Integrated Design, by Jerry Yudelson. New York: McGraw-Hill GreenSource, 2009, 261 pages, $65. Integrated Design: GSA/Morphosis/Arup: San Francisco Federal Building, edited by Brian Carter. Buffalo, New York: School of Architecture and Planning, SUNY Buffalo, 2008, 88 pages, $16.50. It has become increasingly clear that high-performance design depends on an integrated design process. This is because sustainable, high-performing architecture is not achieved by tossing together a collection of green