Architectural Articles

Expanding Services

Centuries ago the architect was known as "master-builder" and controlled both design and construction. In ancient Athens, the architect not only designed temples like the Parthenon, but also worked along side the stone cutters. Whereas the Greeks devoted themselves to perfecting a single classic architecture over centuries, today's complex buildings are often erected in less than a year, with building components warranted by manufacturers for life spans of only 20-30 years.

In recent decades, the single master-builder has evolved into many designers and builders, each perfecting their own craft. Since the 1970's, office space planners have provided specialized services to keep pace with fast-changing needs of the corporate environment. In the 1980's, construction managers emerged to work directly for the owner of large public buildings. Increasingly, civil and structural engineers have become building designers assuming a role previously held exclusively by architects.

Some contractors have expanded into design-build firms by offering drafting as well as a construction services. Interiors are often handled now by interior designers, including the more specialized kitchen and bath designers. You can even hire a closet consultant.

While not exactly returning to the role of overall master-builder, many architects are nonetheless offering more comprehensive services than they have in the recent past to keep pace with consumer demand, and can include planning, building and interior design, construction management, and post-construction maintenance.

If you are confused by all of today's choices of who to hire for the job, ask your potential building professional these questions: At what college were you trained? Are you licensed? What services do you offer and at what cost. Have you been successful in meeting budgets and time schedules? Do you have experience in this locality and with this particular type of building? Do you specify materials that are environmentally safe? How have you exceeded your clients' expectations by turning problems into opportunities? May I call your previous clients? The answers will help you make an informed choice as to which services suit your particular need.

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