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STIR Summer Learning Series - Part 2

22-Aug-2017 -  By: Jasmine Merseberg • DArch • Associate AIA
"You want to be an architect? Oh, like Ted Mosby." That was a common response I received throughout my college career whenever I shared that I was studying architecture.

It always struck me as a surprise that the first "architect" my fellow millennials referred to was a fictional character from the TV sitcom, How I Met Your Mother. Not only was their knowledge of actual architects limited, but to many I’ve encountered, architects were perceived as those who just design buildings. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an architect is “a person who designs buildings and in many cases also supervises their construction.” As an emerging professional on my path to licensure, I can assure you that the role and responsibilities of an architect are far more complex than this definition or what a character from a TV show portrays.

Working in this profession, our decisions affect more than just the design of a building. Architects have a responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. There are many different facets to this profession as I am still learning in my daily tasks, as well as through the new STIR Learning Series.

Last month, partner Gary Dempster, FAIA, gave the first of a two-part presentation on the Owner/Architect Relationship. This month, Part 2 focused on the Contractor/Architect relationship and covered the roles and responsibilities of an Architect during Construction. Topics included specifications, bidding and negotiation, change orders, RFI’s, shop drawings, and construction administration. He also touched on key sections from the AIA A201-2007 General Conditions of the Contract for Construction and items to be aware of if a client chooses to use a non-AIA contract. The biggest takeaway from the presentation was the importance of knowing your role. Understanding your responsibilities and scope of work as an architect is key. Knowing what your contractor’s responsibilities are is just as important.

Gary also mentioned the benefits of establishing a good relationship with your contractor early in the process. Although it's important to establish good, working relationships with all members of a project team (client, consultants, etc.), establishing a good relationship with your Contractor can lead to a more successful process. Gary shared examples from previous projects where this type of relationship proved beneficial in quickly and collaboratively finding solutions when unforeseen obstacles arose on a construction site.

There are numerous team members that contribute to a project’s success or struggles and it’s important to know your role. As an emerging professional, these team members also contribute to my success or struggles on my path to licensure. Through every step, my roles and responsibilities grow from “a person who designs buildings” to someone whose every decision as an architect will affect society in more ways than Ted Mosby’s character portrayed. Although, if years down the line an architecture student receives a response of, “You want to be an architect? Oh…like Jasmine Merseberg.” - I wouldn’t mind.

Jasmine Merseberg, Associate AIA
STIR Architecture
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