Musser Architects / AnOtherArchy  / Consultants


DavidLineDwgI will start this discussion with a short parable: Two masons were working on installing brick veneer column bases on a colonnade as part of one of my projects. The first mason, when asked what he was doing, replied that he was installing masonry veneer column bases. True enough. An accurate statement. The second mason responded to the same question with the reply that he was helping build this building.

It is possible that the first mason would perform just as professionally as the second. But I think it is more likely that the second mason would approach his work with at better overview of its place in the total building composition. I also think he would be more likely to care and notice how his work interfaces with the work of other trades, probably resulting in a better final product.

In another way, on another level, architects deal with similar blinkered vision from our teams of engineering consultants. We architects see our work as getting a building – or groups of buildings – constructed. But I have come to the realization that many of my consulting engineers do not view their job as helping to get the building built. Rather, they think of their work in a more narrow consideration. They are designing a system to be installed in the final product.

So instead of seeing their effort as part of a larger collaborative work product, they are focused on the system they are tasked to design. At best, this approach often leads to conflicts with other systems (by other designers on the team) that are part of the overall design.

To be successful, an architect must lead, even inspire, his team to think beyond their contracted duties and make them want to play as a team. The orchestra metaphor applies – if a building is a piece of music, it will be most beautiful when all the musicians are playing their best, together.


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