From an architect’s perspective, a building project is a labor of love, and an architect develops a connection to it. The architect may work on a building model for two, three or even five years before the general contractor commences work. The 3D model starts with the architects and engineers, and it involves hundreds of decisions, including why something needs to be done a certain way. So, on the advice of an architect: Be gentle when you propose changes. Give the architect the benefit of the doubt that things were designed a certain way for a reason.

On a project, everyone is trying to do the best they can. All the stakeholders are trying for the best end result – to construct the best product. That’s where collaboration is important.  

If you can get the GC – i.e. someone who really understands how the building is going to be built – to the table early in the design process, you can save a lot of headaches later. It helps when the guy onsite cares about how the building looks and works. Although collaboration may make some people feel vulnerable, it ends up resulting in a better project.

As a collaborative effort, even after the project is finished, you can assemble the different stakeholders and review what went well and which processes would benefit if they were adjusted. Despite an architect trying to learn from one project to the next, in reality, there’s not much time from one project to the next to reflect on lessons learned. Although a recap of the project and revisiting decisions sounds like a good idea, most architects have moved on to the next project long before the one in progress wraps up.

It’s good to learn new things, for architects as well as everyone else involved in AEC. If you’re always curious, you can develop an understanding of how relevant technology works. It’s a good practice to set aside time each month to investigate tech. For all of us who think, “There has to be a better way to do this,” we’re usually right. The key is finding new and creative ways to keep projects on track and moving forward. Innovation is most common when your back is against the wall, you’ve made a mistake or you need help. Then we look to tech to solve our challenges.

Architects care about and take an interest in technological innovations. They care about new and better materials – innovations like better components and superior building products. It may have been difficult to shift from AutoCAD to Revit for building information modeling, but it’s steadily been taking place. There is even increased adoption of generative design.

Using generative design, you don’t have to wait until a project is built to learn which portions of the design needed to be adjusted. You can learn from one iteration of a design to the next. A computer can sift through the data in a way and with a speed that manual calculations just can’t match. Computer generated design can accomplish the non-creative tasks that every job needs: massing, setbacks, sun exposure, parking lot layouts, wind analysis, bathroom plans. This allows the architect to unleash their creativity for other parts of the design.

In episode 70 of the Bridging the Gap podcast, I spoke with architect Maya Leigh about how collaboration and innovations in technology are improving the effectiveness of architects around the world and the power in “Staying Curious”. 


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