Who are the guardians of residential design?

by WOHe

Whose job is it to protect a design once plans reach the job site? Is it the architect’s or designer’s job, or is it the job of the builder? I believe the answer depends on whom you’re asking. Ask most builders and they’ll tell you they’re the guardians of design; Ask many architects and they’ll tell you it’s their job.

I believe guardianship lies with the point of client contact. By this I mean responsibility for ensuring the intention of a home’s design is accurately reflected in the physical structure your clients will live in, lies with the person who interacts most often with those clients. I’m not saying it’s always that person’s job, rather, it’s that person’s choice. At an architect-led design/build firm, this client liaison most likely will be an architect or designer. At a builder’s company — or a design/build firm led by a builder — it’s up to the builder to either guard the design or share responsibility with the architect on matters of design execution.

This topic can touch a nerve with some people, and is one I hear with increasing frequency. The care and of design is being discussed in professional circles, among friends and colleagues, and even in the pages of Residential Design & Build magazine.

Members of professional architecture and design organizations are energized these days by a renewed sense of pride in residential design, including the Custom Residential Architects Network, which is hosting a symposium and home tour in Texas October 2-4. If you’re interested in spending a few days interacting with hundreds of residential architects, you should sign up to attend this event.

But I digress … now back to the topic at hand. We can also turn to the dictionary for guidance on this matter. The dictionary on my desk defines “architect” as follows; “A person who plans buildings and oversees their construction.†The “oversees their construction” part makes it pretty clear to me; architects are the guardians.

This same dictionary doesn’t define “builder†specifically, but states that “builder†is the noun form of “build,†which is defined like this; “To engage in building.†Furthermore, “building†is defined as; “The art or business of constructing buildings.†Nowhere do these two definitions mention design.

But are we going to allow a dictionary to determine who should protect residential design? A dictionary is only a collection of words, and you are the professionals in the field every day, and are best positioned to answer the question: Who are the guardians of design?

What’s your answer?

Share your thoughts by sending me an e-mail. Or, scroll up to the first paragraph of this blog entry, look to the right and click where you see, “Leave a comment†or “Post or view comments.â€

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