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Conrad,

At 12:21 PM 11/08/2009, you wrote:
Gil,

Architects do study structural
mechanics, it is just a matter as to whether they get opportunity to use in
practice and how willing they are to use: plus whether there is legislation
which restricts what they can do.

Yeah, right. I do not know how much they study now, but 30 years ago where I got my Engineering Degree, architecture students covered the full statics + dynamics + structural mechanics in 2 hours a week for 1 semester, so for about 24 hours without Maths and physics as prerequisites. They were given a very basic overview!

It is also dependent on the availability
of pre-engineered solutions in-house and in the public domain. Plus the
availability of structural/civil engineers, or structural/mechanical
engineers depending on type of structure.

Prescriptive codes allow them to do basic timber design in Australia, otherwise, basically, an engineer is needed. There was a suggestion by some that all codes should be prescriptive! Those suggesting it do not understand design and the requirements to achieve a safe and economical structure! A prescriptive code can never result in economical structures for all structures, if it is written correctly, so the client pays in materials to reduce the design cost! And he probably pays significantly more in materials and construction costs than the proper design would cost.

Your projects are obviously at the bottom end of structures scale if the architects are designing them themselves. And even at that end, I have not met many clients who want a structural engineer doing the architectural design on their building, unless its is a basic parking garage or similar!

Also, your concept of the Architect/Engineer relationship on projects does not match my experience on medium to large projects. The architect may be the Principal Designer (in the old days anyway), but that does not mean that he makes Structural Engineering decisions. In my experience they tend to work as a team with the architect controlling the visual & functionality aspects and the engineers (structural + mechanical + electrical + civil) the various engineering aspects and they work together to make the whole thing fit inside the building envelope. These days, there is normally a Project Manager over the lot (In my day he was the QS and was at the bottom!).


If the architect, building designers, drafters and builders can work it out
for themselves, then I don't get involved.  Many think they can, but cannot,
the result is a large proportion of our projects involve responding to
councils, or some other authorities requests for further information. So I
keep trying to understand why they don't go to engineers in the first place:
it has to be faster. That is to say why, historically has the assessment of
fitness-for-function typically been ignored from the design process: and
what is design without such assessment? Why would someone build something
without assessing its sufficiency of purpose first? Also is it a case of
zero assessment or too little assessment? Not regulatory assessment but
designing for a purpose, and making sure that purpose/function has been met.

A lot of those requests could have been avoided if the services of an
architect or engineering associate had been employed, rather than a drafter,
typically not even what would be considered a qualified drafter.

On the other hand I keep being surprised by the number of clients who turn
up having paid an extortionate fee to a supposed architect for what is
little more than some conceptual dreaming: the clients problem left
unsolved. They have then moved from architect to building designer to get a
practical solution.

Architects are not all alike. And projects are not all the same. Quality of
service really ends up having little to do with the profession which starts
a project, but more to do with their interest and care about the quality of
the project. If they care they will seek appropriate guidance from
appropriate professionals. But a title, or license is no real measure of the
value or quality of service provided. Architects will seek services of
structural engineers, if the value of such service is greater than if they
performed the task themselves, assuming they are able to do such task. If
they cannot do the task themselves then the value of the structural engineer
is clear and apparent.




Regards
Conrad Harrison
B.Tech (mfg & mech), MIIE, gradTIEAust
mailto:sch.tectonic(--nospam--at)bigpond.com
Adelaide
South Australia





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Regards  Gil Brock
Prestressed Concrete Design Consultants Pty. Ltd. (ABN 84 003 163 586)
5 Cameron Street Beenleigh Qld 4207 Australia
Ph +61 7 3807 8022              Fax +61 7 3807 8422
email:          gil(--nospam--at)raptsoftware.com
email:          sales(--nospam--at)raptsoftware.com
email:          support(--nospam--at)raptsoftware.com
webpage:        http://www.raptsoftware.com


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