I was fortunate to study architecture in New York City. Yes, the epicenter of the world! Yes I said it. It was an amazing place to study this spacial art. My architecture studio overlooked Broadway, a block from Columbus Circle & 59th street. Into my second year I noticed a vacant lot across the street which had workers preparing for construction. Little did I know but 15 Central Park West was being slated for the site by renown architect Robert A.M. Stern 15 CPW. I was set on chronicling the process as I'd be in that studio for the next three years for extended periods of time. (Sleep deprivation and all.) I was excited to witness the rising of a NYC building.
Okay, I fell short. Very short. My plan didn't come together as I suspected. After a few months, I stopped. I ended up watching the process day in and day out. Snapping a few photos periodically. No where near as detailed as I had originally thought. Nevertheless, this was the premise to the connection between an architect and construction. Having no construction experience entering school, I knew I'd like to spend time experiencing the trenches to the rooftops on construction sites like this one.
As I began working in a real firm as an in-college intern, I was fortunate to have several opportunities to survey & visit construction sites. This isn't always the case especially as a entry level intern (or architect-in-training). This is understandably sometimes reserved for more experienced staff. This is invaluable for an intern as well as a seasoned architect. Initially I was able to gain experience in the following:
After completing my degree, I was ready to enter the work force and be fully engage. My first task was securing a position at a firm. Being 2008 in a recession, this was daunting. I was fortunate to gain a position at a local firm which specialized in restoration. I'd like to think my construction experience was a positive in being hired.
My new position took me out of the office regularly to basements, cellars, roof and various types of scaffolding including hanging platforms up as high as 20 stories. I was able to see first hand what I had drawn and how it worked.. and sometimes how it did not. I learned many detailing principles based on seeing it built onsite. I also benefited by seeing and traveling the great city in which I lived and worked in.
A small secondary benefit of being onsite, likely for a more seasoned architect, is becoming knowledgeable on dealings with contractors, construction managers and owner's reps. This in itself can be a a big challenge when budgets and schedules come into play.
Overall, architects are trained to deign for real world situations. Spending some time on projects under construction should be a prerequisite. Drawing a detail doesn't automatically make it properly shed water. Sketching a diagram for insulate an interior space doesn't automatically ensure efficiency. Construction is a learning tool which is just as important as the intense design and construction documents phase. The applicability to the surrounding construction and site conditions are part of the reason a detail WORKS.
Thinking of construction as a tool, What lessons have you learned onsite recently?
BASE COVER IMAGE FROM PIXABAY.COM
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My life as an architect, photographer and family man trying to stay positive in a negative world.
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