Teamwork: An Essential Feature of an Exceptional Building Program

Since the process by which buildings are designed and built entails the efforts of many interested parties, a very important feature of an exceptional building program is good teamwork.  As the design team point person, there are many ways the project architect can contribute to the achievement of successful teamwork.

As is true with any endeavor, the business of achieving high quality teamwork is enhanced by effective communication – the topic of my blog posted 12/8/14.

At the inception of a project, all members of the design team must be informed of and understand the Client’s budget, time frame and design parameters for the project.  In accord with that information, agreements must be entered into with the Client and consulting engineers which concisely describe the scope of design services by and compensation for each member of the design team.

From the first conceptual design studies through completion of final working drawings and specifications, the design of a project is a constantly evolving work in progress.  Therefore, as frequently as warranted by the scope and complexity of the project, the architect must meet with the design team and/or the Client.   With reference to arranging for, conducting and following up on meetings, the following guidelines are worth consideration:

  • If each person that will be attending the meeting is provided with the agenda a day or two prior to the meeting, they’re given time to collect their thoughts before meeting as opposed to the need for making “snap judgments” during the meeting.
  • Since a building is like a puzzle with many pieces, it is necessary to carefully coordinate the relationships of all components to each other, the spaces they will occupy and the affect they will have on the functional, aesthetic and budgetary requirements of the program.  Considering all design disciplines involved, this will often entail “give-and-take” as well as evaluation of alternative means of achieving results that will be mutually agreed to.
  • Each meeting participant should be provided minutes of the meeting describing the issues addressed and decisions taken.  The transmittal with which the minutes are sent should ask the recipient to read them and, if anything in the minutes is contrary to his or her understanding, call the sender as soon as possible to review it.  If such a review reveals any error in the minutes, a correction must be issued to all persons who attended the meeting.

Prior to issuance of final working drawings and specifications, the project architect must thoroughly proofread them and if needed have revisions made to correct mistakes, assure that all programmatic requirements are addressed and avoid items of work being duplicated by more than one design discipline.

The project architect can facilitate the contractor’s contribution to good teamwork in many ways, a good example of which should occur prior to construction.  This is because, unlike the contractor’s site personnel, the architect is already intimately familiar with the project as depicted in the final drawings and specifications (CD’s).  On the other hand, those performing the work usually have had little time to digest the CD’s before construction begins which can result in errors and/or omissions.  Consequently, it is very helpful for the architect to prepare a list of items which could be easily overlooked and/or misunderstood.  Then, at a pre-construction meeting with the contractor and sub-contractors provide them with that list, review it as well as the CD’s and answer their questions.

In the final analysis, the desired result is synergy – i.e. the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of the individual parts.