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Young Architects collaborating with Engineers

kosi Emmanuel Chukwujindu
left-right svyr. Chinedu Bekee ,Arc Kosi Emmanuel Chukwujindu
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Kosi Emmanuel Chukwujindu

Collaborating with Engineers is an unavoidable part of an Architect’s work. It begins with having to convert your beautiful Architectural renderings to construction/specification dawings which the Engineers will understand and use better; and lasts up to actually meeting and working with them on site. This usually requires a lot of: precision, measurability, scale conformity, accuracy, legibility of specification characters, disambiguation of terms and conditions, punctuality, a good sense of responsibility and clearly designated functions for everyone.

For me at Geometrix, It was a learning and un-learning period. There were times I was required to translate my original Architectural renderings (I was more of the presentation guy) into precise, unambiguous construction details. Initially I had tough times at this because prior to the time, I did mostly presentation drawings -In this, slight variations from reality are condonable. There was a time when I had supplied an Engineer a drawing with few dimension statements and a lot of half-baked design elements that needed more specification. The drawings were returned in request for more clearity. I then had to sit and actually explain what I meant. I had to make the final construction decisions then or forever live with the consequences.

Below is a summary of what I have learnt while working with Engineers and other professionals:

1.) Every Drawing leaving the studio needs precision, because they will just be built the way you have indicated: No matter what great 3-D software you use for your presentations, a good knowledge of AutoCAD will help while sending and receiving drawings from Engineers.

2.) Always Be ready to improvise: think faster than every other member of your team, carry them along by teaching and encouraging them; don’t expect everyone is as knowledgeable as you are. Be proactive.

3.) It is the real deal: the wealth of experience you will gather from such collaborations is actually the real deal! And surpasses any school teachings you have received.

4.) Be humble: Even though you’ve been placed in charge of a construction team, (as a project Architect) never forget that you didn’t secure the commission, your boss did; You didn’t contract the Engineers, your boss did; and you don’t pay them, your boss does; so you will be wise not to fall out on a personal note with anyone. Report any misunderstandings to your boss and let him take action, not you!
Make the period Worthwhile: while working with a senior Architect, establish cordial relationships with the contractors and Engineers, friends and associates. You never know who will be there for you during the ‘rainy days’.