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PMP Associates Blog

Archive for May, 2008

Architects vs. Engineers

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

A group of engineers were gathered at a social function when the conversation drifted toward the subject of architects.  As each engineer spoke, the tale got worse and the complaints continued with only negative issues forming the consensus of this biased group of engineers.  The more enlightened engineer in this gathering, not wanting to cause a problem, remained silent.

I can only imagine the same social situation with a group of architects, when the conversation turns to the subject of engineers.  They probably have their own horror stories about engineers.  How engineers fail to communicate, miss deadlines and treat architects poorly – especially in front of their client.

Sounds more like a cat and dog situation, with natural instincts forming the general rule.  Even with cats and dogs, there are exceptions to the rules though.

Since the early 1980’s, I have had the opportunity to provide engineering services as part of our clients’ project team with architects, landscape architects, structural engineers, other civil engineers, mechanical engineers, traffic engineers, and electrical engineers. 

Not having been previously exposed to prejudicial opinions about architects, I formed my own opinions and working/professional relationships with architects on these project teams.  While there are some architects that are not focused on what the site civil engineer is designing; there are also engineers who are clueless as to the responsibilities of the project architect.  The old motivational phrase notes – “There is no I in TEAM.”  Both the engineer and the architect need to leave his/her personal opinions at home when working as a professional on a project team. When you, as an engineer, understand the needs of the project architect, and work to support those needs – then THE TEAM is addressing both the technical requirements and the overall goal of our client.

Having had good professional relationships with the many architects that I have worked with, must put me in the “cat and dog” exception category.  By being the “exception” and closely working with architects to provide the services necessary to meet the demands of a multi-discipline project, including the last minute design changes, has allowed the architect to focus on other project issues and most importantly, added to the overall satisfaction of the client.

I don’t know who said, “You are only as good as your next job”, but the phrase is so true for architects and their supporting engineers. When that “next job” arrives, who will the architect call to be part of the design team?