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STIR Summer Learning Series - Part 1

19-Jul-2017 -  By: Josh Treiber • AIA
A new series of group learning sessions at STIR Architecture began this summer with the first of a two-part presentation by partner Gary Dempster, FAIA: The Owner/Architect Relationship and the Architect’s place in a project's organizational structure.

Gary has been teaching a similar subject to law students at USC for a number of years. He covered topics such as the AIA B201 contract (Architect’s Services), design and construction delivery methods (design bid build, design build, or fast track), fees, insurance, indemnification, etc. He also discussed examples from past projects, how decisions were made, and what was done when things didn’t go as planned—a reminder that every obstacle or challenge in any type of project is a learning experience.

Gary talked about how, in addition to the normal project requirements, STIR Architecture, specializing in retail design, must consider major shopping milestones throughout a given year like back-to-school time, the day after Thanksgiving, or right before Christmas when working within a design or construction schedule. Another important concept was that we, as architects, provide a service, not a product, and that not all clients are aware of that at the beginning of a project. In many cases, projects are a learning experience for our clients and it is our job to help them through the process.

This lunchtime lecture was a great way for our younger staff to gain more exposure to professional practice and for some of our veteran team members to share their experiences. Principal Ken Long pointed out during the discussion how some contracts can have language indicating Architects must be responsible for future building code updates and not only the current code and what that could mean regarding liability. Partner Jim Auld also talked about how communication has changed over the years from letters to fax machines to email, and the impact it has made on projects.

Having joined STIR Architecture earlier in the year, this was my first learning session and I was enthusiastic about it because although I’ve been working in the profession for many years, I have not had the opportunity to be a part of the owner/contract process. I was previously at a very large firm, but now at STIR which is mid-sized, I am working with the partners and through them can gain more insight into what is involved directly and not just from what I studied before completing the Architect Registration Exam. I am confident that in this collaborative and supportive environment I will be fully prepared when the time comes for me to handle a contract with a client.

I’m looking forward to Part 2 of the presentation which will expand upon some of these topics and also go into specifications, construction administration, RFIs, shop drawing review, etc.

Upcoming sessions will continue to deal with themes like professional practice and be a tool for our team to expand our knowledge beyond our typical day to day activities.

Stay tuned for the next installment of STIR’s Summer Learning Series.


Josh Treiber, AIA

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