029: Architects Should Work Construction

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If I have one regret during my college education is that I never worked on a construction site. Once I graduated from college, I went straight to work in an architectural office, drawing up all sorts of stuff that I had literally never seen before in my life. I managed to get along but I was acutely aware of my lack of practical knowledge and I have been trying to make up for it over the last 20+ years. [Note: If you are reading this via email, click here to access the on-site audio player] googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1562005974350-0'); }); We'd like to thank today's guest, Nicholas Renard, the owner, architect and registered residential contractor of Dig-Architecture, an architect-led design-build firm in Jacksonville, Florida. We recorded today's episode live in Las Vegas from the Expo floor of the 2019 AIA Conference on Architecture as special guests of Huber Engineered Woods. a small portion of Bob's tool collection My practical experience, and I suppose formal construction education, really didn’t start until I bought my first house and didn’t have the money to pay someone else to do the work. My wife had a job that required an extensive amount of traveling and since I am not a “go out to the bar” kind of dude (despite what others might think) I would stay home in the evenings and work on projects around the house. It was during this time that I started building up my tool collection. Did either of you work construction when you were in architecture school? [2:30 mark] Both Bob and Nick worked on projects with their father around the house and this gave them their initial exposure to the basics of the construction process. They spent time either watching or helping their fathers around the house as they took on projects of various scales. But of the three, Andrew is the only one who has ever actually worked in the construction industry during their architectural education. Andrew worked in construction during the summers as a high school student. Then, while in grad school, he worked in a cabinetry shop construction custom cabinetry in a small shop in Oregon. Apparently, the common thread among the three of us is having built a deck in our backyards at some point in our lives. How do you think working in construction would benefit an architect? [10:17 mark] The translation from the drawing environment to the built environment typically takes time for a new professional in architecture. The knowledge of the process of construction, the tolerances involved, the order of operations and other physical activities all have an impact on the design and final product. So being able to understand all of these aspects of the downstream portions of your design is very beneficial and can impact your ability as a designer to impact the final result, the budget, and the overall process. Being able to understand and apply this to your projects is a valuable skill for any architect. Understanding the differences between the exactness of the drawing environment versus the built environment. [14:30 mark] The system of education tends to push you as an architecture student to strive for perfection in your processes. This seems to translate over into your career and the way you design or draw digitally. The reality of the construction site is that there is not a possibility for perfection. Part of being on a construction site allows you to understand the tolerances of this process. Every part of the assemblies on a job site has built-in tolerances. And as they are assembled, those tolerances compound and create project dimensions that cannot be held to the digital perfection. Understanding this concept and how it affects your design is something that takes time as a young professional. One of the benefits of being on construction sites early in your education or career is that it reduces this time frame and allows you to grasp that concept quicker,

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