Re: Re: A New Knowledge Campus for the Customs House Area

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It is worth offering another example here. I often sit down with various trades in order to decide upon specs and so forth for building roll out programs. To be honest, everyone tries to feather their own nest as best as they can. Sometimes the plumber runs off with the bowl of cream, other times it is the glazing contract, the electrician or who ever. I was having a look at the utilisation factors SEI embedded into the energy calculations for buildings. They are really there to ensure that the solar panel salesman doesn’t run off with the couple of thousand euros ear marked for attic insulation. Because the attic insulation guy is a more honest kind of guy, and has less time to cavort with his clients, to buy them lunches etc. This is the kind of fair play that good developers and builders can offer to the industry. While it is up to public bodies to draft good legislation. That legislation also has to be flexible enough. At some stage the responsibility must land on the shoulders of those in industry, who need to use their skills to ensure the best possible deal for Ireland Inc. is achieved.

To catch one little thing on this point here. Who is best positioned at industry level to deliver the most value for money? Consultant architects are un-believeably bad here. They are too often afforded the luxury of pretending to be the client, when in fact they aren’t. I have seen architects made very good investment decisions on behalf of their clients. But I have also seen terrible decisions made.

An executive at ESB networks made a point recently, that in the 1990s the structure of the ESB changed. Networks was separated off into its own business unit, away from the remainder of the ESB. That enabled networks to undertake its own programs of massive investment into Ireland’s power infrastructure. Bear in mind that this investment was done using public money, and that borrowing was done at a much cheaper price that was private developers could with property. Anyhow, the ESB executive compared his industry with that of tele-communications. Eircom was never dis-assembled in time, to allow the investment to flow into building an infrastructure in Ireland for communications.

I keep getting back to the fact, that when you work for a construction company in Ireland you have the independence often to go and do research or investigation into areas you would not be allowed near, if you worked for a small consultant architect. But young architects do not want to be involved in the construction industry. They want to hang out in small trendy workshops and atelier situations with like minded design brains. When I did project management for a builder, it enabled me to clock up 60 solid hours of intensive, on-the-job health and safety meetings. This involved my interfacing with at least 50 different contractors or trades on some jobs. There is no way that the business model for a small consultant architect is set up to facilitate that. That is why I raise the point, as to their in-appropriate-ness as good managers of the clients money. Architecture Schools and educators should be raising this point too, to students leaving their faculties this year.

I visited some recently completed public housing projects last year in Dublin, built by high profile architectural practices. I was trully shocked at what I saw at detail level. Although many of the overall designs deserved enormous credit in terms of their spatial layout. At a masterplan level I would certain be the first to have my ears pricked forward when the consultant architect made his/her presentation. When it comes to putting together the building, we really do need to find a better solution to obtain value for money, other than using consultant architectural practices, who have virtually no resources at their disposal.

This madness of getting your construction drawings done in Eastern Europe needs to be cut out for good. That was fine for computer visualisation, but is being used in-appropriately to produce contract documents. I think the practice really caught on, when construction as a fraction of the overall project became so small. Why I created this thread about the value of land:

https://archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=7672

Brian O’ Hanlon

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