March 11, 2013

Construction Site Visits

Walk around your city – you cannot help but notice the different buildings that are undergoing construction in different parts of town. It is easy to overlook these places, but for students of architecture and young professionals, it is a great way to see how construction is done and help you understands the technicalities of building construction – how are things put together seeing the dynamic relationship between structure, servicing, walls, floors, finishes. This is of utmost value for the student who is doing a comprehensive building design studio, or is working on permit drawings for a design firm. Perhaps my next point is on the fact that I have been doctrinated by a professors who practice architecture, pretty images and renderings are one thing, but at the end of the day we make money by getting something built for clients.

I have been fortunate to be able to see some construction sites. In my summer job for a school board, one of my last work days my boss gave me a tour to some of the new construction and renovation projects that the board is working on (most of my summer job included visiting different schools, so it gave me a good idea of what spaces are required in school design). See things like new curtain wall construction, to interior renovation projects of kindergartens,  and even things like an air-handling unit can help inform you and give you an idea of the spaces to accommodate. The drop ceiling and furring in progress reveals that those poche walls and floors in your plans and sections really include services, conduits, wiring, hvac, pipes, insulation. You can understand structure, how a space is serviced. There is so much to gain from visiting a building-in-progress. Plus, if you can get an architect to walk you through construction, you can gain so much.

This comes to what I have been doing for the past few weeks. I have been regularly seeing the construction of an interior project that I have been working on for an architect. Even get to do my first site inspection report since things came up and I was the only available to make it to the site. It’s really interesting to understand the ins and outs of what happens on the construction site – seeing how your CAD drawings are perceived and used by the stakeholders, as well as how trades people are doing their work and figuring out and asking why (along with cross referencing with your architect just incase there are errors).  You get to understand those lines that you drafted, and those details you researched from manufacturers and technical books and see it built in reality. Even from attending an alumni event from my university and talking to fellow architecture alumni, visiting construction sites are crucial and they will inform you on how to make better permit drawings and details.

Now for the architecture student, this might be hard, but there is a reason why it is valuable to really take a closer look at the construction sites around your campus, take a second glance of the construction of buildings in your city and analyze what is going on, and why is it being built like that. It’s also good to get involved in design-build studios and projects during school to really link and understand the process of concept, documentation to realization. At the end of the day, if you want to make it in this field after school – you have to realize that a building must get built.

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