Frontal Lobe Bender (design intentions)

The basic challenge-

We are talking “interpretation” here.  One of the main challenges for architects, builders and engineers face is how and when to convey information. Drawings and specifications are by nature abstract-they summarize a set of instructions for someone else to execute.  Not terribly different for a recipe that a chef will cook. Luckily, we now employ animations, 3d modeling and similar means to help express the intended results in more clarity than 20 years ago.


The ingredients are more precisely defined in the “specifications”, like which cut of beef goes into the stew? And the recipe is more like “drawings”.

So the primary medium of communication is drawings. Nice , clear drawings- ones that lack ambiguity. Because we know where there are potential ambiguity in the drawings or spec’s, a contractor can slip into the realm of “so we did not include it” or ” we have another similar solution”, and our frontal lobe gets bent.

Our most important safe-guards-

While we strive to put together a “bullet-proof” set of drawings and specs everytime, we know with the multitude of change and revisons most project go through-it is not alway possible.  We occasionally use peer review and various other quality control measures and why we tend to be very selective about who we use for contractors. While they are not charged with being mind-readers, the better contractors “get it” and have been through it before and can fill in the missing pieces or ask insightful questions.

We like guys who ask questions before proceeding, who offer suggestions to address a situation with grace and insight. We value time-tested, resourceful contractors with whom we have established good-relationships with over the years . At present we have about 8 of these contractors. Over the years some fall out of favor , retire, or merge into different forms of companies that are harder to recommend and will slowly be replaced by others who prove their mettle. This is not to say these 8 are flawless, and neither are we.

While we are always happy to meet new builders, we have a lot at stake here as designers and advisors and always hope to be sitting on the same side of the table when thinking about how to help our clients.


The process

During the bidding, we often get asked for clarifications, so the estimates take into account conditions or elements that the potential builder need to better understand before commiting to a price. We love it- it shows the bidder is thinking and evaluating. We try to answer these quickly and succintly. Through the construction process, RFI’s (Requests For Information) are issued and sketches and bulletins are sent in response.  The sharing on the information is much easier now with cloud-based platforms . Yes the irony here is that hard-copy drawings are still what prevail on the job site for a number of reasons, and keeping the most current edition of the drawings on site is a constant challenge.

So we tend to over-communicate as architects, trying to constantly monitor what’s happening at the job and in the client’s head, staying in front of issues to address potential issues in a proactive manner is key to a successful project.

If you want your project done right with a minimum of frontal lobe bending, call us 914 980 5532, ask for Steve!