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Dropping the ball (was Non-structural component callouts)

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You asked, "Does the architect assume any
responsibility for reviewing these items?" 

The answer is YES!!!!! The architect on most projects
is supposed to be the "quarterback" for the design
team. It was always my understanding that the
architect was supposed to proactively lead the design
team, make sure all consultants were aware of the
everything they needed to know on the project and make
sure everyone was communicating with everyone else on
the design team. One of the architectural
"quarterback's" primary duties was to see that the
design team functioned as a well-oiled machine so that
the project owner recieved a complete and coordinated
set of contract documents that documented a
well-designed project. Unfortunately, the most of the
quarterbacks have "dropped the ball" - and it seems
that many of today's architectural quarterbacks don't
even want to touch the ball. 

Unfortunately, in my opinion, the AIA has also dropped
the ball. It seems that the architectural profession
is not even aware that there's a problem with the
issue of incomplete and uncoordinated contract

About a month ago I sent a proposal to the local AIA
chapter offering to present a (free) 90 minute seminar
to local architects on the topic "Tips and Techniques
for Enhancing Project Coordination Between Architects
and Structural Engineers". Our local AIA chapter has a
weekend long conference every Fall during which a
variety of seminars on various topics are presented;
similar to the format of the seminars at AISC's annual
Steel Conference. The seminar was going to based on
many of the "lessons learned" during my 25 years of
experience in the profession working with architects
and as a full time Quality Assurance Engineer working
for a structural engineering firm. (I am paid to be a
full time "pain in the ass" by my employer. It's my
job to "QA" every project before it leaves our office.
I am aware of no other small-sized structural
engineering firm in the country that employs a full
time QA engineer.) I called the AIA last week to
determine if the seminar selection committee had made
a final determination on what seminars they were going
to select. With regards to my seminar proposal I was
told essentially, "thanks, but no thanks".  Perhaps
there's an organization Construction Managers or an
organization of lawyers specializing in construction
law that would be interested in hearing my seminar on
this topic. If any construction attorneys are reading
this, please contact me privately to discuss.)

Cliff Schwinger

(P.S., We're "out of the woods" on that slab-on-grade
sub-base issue I was griping about the other day. I
learned a lesson however - I need to learn more about
the legal aspects of the structural engineering
profession. Thanks for those who emailed me with
suggestions on resources where I can learn more on
this topic. I just ordered a couple hundred dollars
worth of books on the topic.) 

--- Jim Wilson <wilsonengineers(--nospam--at)> wrote:
> I am thinking of Cliff's question about legalities
> of "missed" items in the plans when I ask this:
> When it comes to specifying cross-specialty items
> such as soil preparation, stone grading, concrete
> waterproofing, etc, who is ultimately responsible
> for these items?
> Just because we have a foundation wall or a
> ground-bearing slab on our plans, is it always our
> responsibility to accurately specify the
> waterproofing membrane, the wall drains, and the
> type of stone under the footings?  And if we don't
> do it, are we the ones to be held responsible?
> Does the architect assume any responsibility for
> reviewing these items?  Does an active owner have
> any responsibility?
> Jim Wilson, PE
> wilsonengineers(--nospam--at)
> Stroudsburg, PA
> ---------------------------------
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