Architecture is a process involving multidisciplinary input by many professionals.
Comprehensive design services in the professional disciplines of planning, architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, and civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering are offered within one organization by some large architect-engineer (A/E) and engineer-architect (E/A) firms.
Smaller architectural firms retain these services by contract with consultants. Singlesource design responsibility, coordinated via a common, integrated management structure, is a requirement in either case for successful development of a project.
In the performance of professional A/E services on any project, a design team charged with successful completion of the project in a dedicated professional manner is essential. This team provides continuous service to the project from start to finish, establishing and maintaining the quality and integrity of each design. A project leader should be selected to coordinate and manage all the professional disciplines and consultants involved in the project and to act as liaison with the client. This leader should work closely with the client to provide policy direction and set goals and objectives for the professional team. Day-to-day management and direction of the project’s technical development should be provided by an individual, usually identified as the architect’s project manager, who performs the key administrative duties, establishes and maintains design services budgets and schedules, and coordinates the entire A/E effort. A senior designer supervises daily organization and progress of design development and directs the design efforts of the project team. As a project’s specific needs or schedule require, additional architects, planners, engineers, interior architects, and consultants are involved in the project to augment the team or to provide specialized consultation.
Architects and Engineering Consultants
The major distinctions between architects and engineers run along generalist and specialist lines. The generalists are ultimately responsible for the overall planning.
It is for this reason that an architect is generally employed as the prime professional by a client. On some special projects, such as dams, power plants, wastewater treatment, and research or industrial installations, where one of the engineering specialties becomes the predominant feature, a client may select an engineering professional or an E/A firm to assume responsibility for design and construction and taken on the lead role. On certain projects, it is the unique and imaginative contribution of the engineer that may make the most significant total impact on the architectural design. The overall strength of a dynamic, exposed structure, the sophistication of complex lighting systems, or the quiet efficiency of a well-designed mechanical system may prove to be the major source of the client’s pride in a facility. In any circumstance, the responsibilities of the professional engineer for competence and contribution are just as important to the project as those of the architect.
Engineers, for example, play a major role in intelligent building system design, which involves mechanical-electrical systems. However, a building’s intelligence is also measured by the way it responds to people, both on the inside and outside.
The systems of the building must meet the functional needs of the occupants as well as respect the human response to temperature, humidity, airflow, noise, light, and air quality. To achieve the multifaceted goals, an intelligent building requires an intelligent design process with respect to design and system formulation as well as efficient and coordinated execution of design and technical documentation within the management structure.
An intelligent building begins with intelligent architecture—the shape, the building enclosure, and the way the building appears and functions. Optimal building solutions can be achieved through a design process that explores and compares varying architectural and engineering options in concert. Sophisticated visualization and analytical tools using three-dimensional computer modeling techniques permit architects and engineers to rapidly evaluate numerous alternatives. Options can be carefully studied both visually and from a performance standpoint, identifying energy and life-cycle cost impact. This enables visualization and technical evaluation of multiple schemes early in the design phase, setting the basis for an intelligent building.
In all cases, the architect’s or engineer’s legal responsibilities to the client remain firm. The prime professional is fully responsible for the services delivered. The consultants, in turn, are responsible to the architect or engineer with whom they contract. Following this principle, the architect or engineer is responsible to clients for performance of each consultant. Consequently, it is wise for architects and engineers to evaluate their expertise in supervising others before retaining consultants in other areas of responsibility.
A building team may require the assistance of specialists. These specialty consultants provide skills and expertise not normally found in an architectural or engineering firm. The prime professional should define the consultants required and assist the client in selecting those consultants. The architect or engineer should define and manage their services even if the specialty consultant contracts directly with the client for liability purposes, with the understanding that the client has the ultimate say in decision making.
While several consultants may be required, depending on the complexity of the project, the cost for each may be minimal since their services are provided over short periods of time during the development process, and all consultants are usually not servicing the project at the same time. The following consultant services, most of which are not normally provided by architects and engineers, are provided by
• Exterior wall maintenance
• Fire and life safety
• Food service
• Geotechnical engineering and subsurface exploration
• Space-usage operations
• Independent research and testing
• Marketing and leasing
• Materials handling
• Preconstruction survey
• Site surveyor
• Special foundation systems
• Special structures
• Specialty lighting
• Vertical transportation
• Water features
• Wind tunnel testing