When your principles are in question… Rep!

It’s test time again, and the committee has met, trying to pass the next group of architects on to the record. I’ve learned to anchor my expectations, as the pandemic continues to punish young people. However, I did notice an improved mood between the third part in the office. I indulge in a little optimism.

The first two interviews are devastatingly benign. They have thought, and have re-read the Arab African Bank’s Code of Conduct, and would like to revise their stance on the cash-in-hand business. Hooray for you, glad to hear that.

Someone else had a conversation with their manager and no, they don’t calculate fees based on “5 percent of construction cost + another 2 percent because this guy is having a horrible nightmare”. Turns out there are schedules, a resource plan, and even weekly meetings. It’s not reassuring, but I’ll accept it.

Then… this guy. Yes, the scheduling is a bit “naughty” and it is strange that the lone manager paid huge dividends before the company became a trust property for employees.

I’m not sure the Building Regulations are just “annoying tips”… there might be an inspector or officer who has to approve some drawings before they can be built? no? nothing? truly?! All of this is troubling but not necessarily definitive if the criticism is intelligent and the best practices are well understood. What’s really concerning is that the answer to all of these questions is the same.

It should have been picked up by PD.

assignments? PD error. Structural collapse on site? PD should fix it. Contractor refuses access to the site? PD liability.

They are so persistent that I had to verify what exactly they think PD stands for. Lead designer, yeah, cool, well done.

So who was the PD on your project? It was you?! No, right, no, that would be crazy, wouldn’t it. haha. Mother. Well, sorry, who was the PD on your project then?

Well, great, I subcontracted the role. wow. Well, not cool, obviously, because? Because it fundamentally undermines a key recommendation in the Hackitt Report where Dame Judith states that design responsibilities should be assumed and resolved, not bartered or ‘mitigated’ through subcontracting? No, not that. Yes, it is a bit expensive. Talk about pricing risks! The most important.

My palms are a little sweaty. The bigger the problem, the more we discover that for this individual, the role of Designer, Lead Designer, Lead Consultant, PD, PM, QS, CA and even EA is a Georish knot of meaningless acronyms. And our hero gets through that with the Vorpal Blade – PD role! Designer, but with principles, his primary role is to direct the project, from first principles! This is very logical!

Does not make sense. This must be a busy woman PD Sub Counselor. Is this why her camera is always off in meetings? How do you do all this with one small spreadsheet full of red/amber/green boxes? No wonder the Phase 3 report had the wrong project name. You must be very confused, do everything!

I do not envy her, she was left alone to absorb all the lessons of the Grenfell disaster, when she had not designed anything. What if someone lied about the degree of resistance of the cladding? What if someone overrepresented their competence in designing tall buildings? What if the building control department didn’t care (and they are true, I promise) and allowed one fire exit for 400+ people? She would never have known, would she, unless someone had told her.

Maybe there is another person involved in the project who is more suitable for this role? Someone intricately involved in design, who can carry – let’s call it a golden thread? – From strategy to detail to location? Someone designs buildings all the time and has a regulatory body that checks they meet core competencies? Who might this be, in your opinion?

Stop. do not say that. Please don’t say that.


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