Tuesday, November 27, 2007

So, You Want To Hire An Architect

“If you decide to build, imagination, self confidence and vision - as well as a good sense of humor, are far more important characteristics than the size of your pocket book.”

John Milnes Baker, AIA

An Architect is, usually , not a Contractor. Architects define Architecture as the reasonable arrangement of the many parts of what one calls the built environment. How these parts, otherwise known as elements, are arranged determines beauty. The elements are floors, columns and beams, walls, windows, doors and roofs. These elements make up the envelope or exterior of the building, affect the environment in which the building is anchored and determine the spaces, and the relationship they have to each other, as interior or exterior rooms.

The Architect, as the expert that understands how these parts come together and function, is able to determine with the Owner/Client, the look of the structure commonly referred to as style. Styles are many and varied. Some common styles are Colonialism, Georgian, Modernism and Art Deco. All of these styles have subsections that make for the varied pallet of the artist Architect.

The Owner and Architect work closely to determine the Owners lifestyle preference, and many other requirements, known as function, as part of the larger category of programming. The Architect then begins a process of representing, in graphic form, the Owner's requirements in the reality of a building or space. This is called Schematics and/or Design Development. Many schemes are created until the Owner is satisfied that the vision of the project is understood. Based on these drawings the Owner’s vision is translated into a concise document for the Builder/Contractor. This is done in the Construction Documents phase of the project, from which a Builder/Contractor will be able to make the vision a reality.

A Builder/Contractor is the expert in the building trade that organizes a group of craftsmen to assist in making the Owner’s vision real. He works closely with the Owner and Architect to make sure the requirements of schedule, cost and function are carried out and adhered to in an organized manner. A good Contractor has garnered a tremendous amount of construction knowledge over the years and is able to assist the Architect and Owner in the areas of material, methods and construction cost.

The understanding of who does what job in this custom-built scenario determines the fluidity of the building process. The Owner determines the vision; the Architect translates the abstract thought of the Owner into the graphic language that the Builder/Contractor uses to make the vision a reality. This is a Timeless Way of Building.

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