The Value of an Architect

by Jennifer Meyer, TK Architects International

March, 2016

What do you think of when you hear the word “Architect”?  I’m sure the standard stock photo of Mike Brady sitting at his drawing table comes to mind.

Bradley bunch

Or maybe a guy/girl dressed in a suit and a hard hat, pointing at drawings.

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Notice the common theme in all of these image is – drawings. And why not. After all, the common misconception about architects is that all we do is drawings. While we do spend a lot of time drawing, in reality there is so much more to what we do than that.  So if you don’t mind….

May I remove my hardhat please?

Today I am a research analyst.  Architects research everything from codes to products on a daily basis to help make your building more efficient, safer, more economical or more functional.  You need an elevator in your building but what kind is most suitable?  Your building is in a high seismic area – what kind of construction is most cost effective? (and what does seismic mean?) You need to cut cost, but how, without sacrificing the look, feel and quality of your building?  These are all examples of questions that can and should be handled by an architect.  We do it all the time and know what to look for.

I might plan to be a meteorologist today.  While architects cannot predict the weather we do have to understand climate patterns in the locations we provide services.  We design your building to protect its occupants from the elements, and control the temperature inside. We run complex energy calculations based on average highs and lows, orient building to minimize solar heat gain and create different design features such as canopies to protect from sun and rain.  We change the make-up of a wall based on climate to help prevent heat transfer both inside and out.  We stop water saturated air from penetrating walls and creating mold.  We slope roofs and sites to help remove water and snow.  Understanding climate is key to all of this.

Now I am a fireman.  No, we don’t put out fires (at least in the literal sense), but we do make sure people can get to safety if there is a fire, we design for low combustible construction. We design sprinkler systems and safe passageways for people to get out as well as design safe, protected areas for people to stay in if they can’t get out immediately.  We add in exit signs and emergency lighting and backup power so people can see through smoke to find their way out.  We put in fire alarm systems to notify people to get out and to alert the real firemen.  We make sure doors swing the right way, there is proper hardware, and correct signage right down to the braille on the signs to make sure all occupants – even those with disabilities – can find their way out.  It is our job to make sure buildings are designed and built as safe places for people occupying them.

Some days I am a mediator.  We are a referee between the contractor and the owner.  We work through problems during construction.  We settle disputes between owner and contractor, owner and city, etc.  Construction is a stressful process, but we take as much of that load as possible off the owner to help create a smoother construction experience.

I am a cinema expert.  At TK Architects, we know all about how your cinema operates.  We understand the need to have a great screen presentation. We know how and where to layout seats to provide the best sightlines and allow proper accessibility.  We know that your auditoriums need to keep out as much outside sound as possible and how to do that.  We know how important concessions are and how to place them to maximize sales. There aren’t many cinema design issues we haven’t dealt with.  Do you want VIP seats?  We’ve done it.  Want in theater dining or beer and wine service at your seat? We’ve done that too.  Want a concept that no one has ever thought of?  We generate those all the time and would love the chance to share those ideas with you.

I wear many other hats as well such as a sanitation engineer, environmentalist, geologist, and budget analyst, but there are too many to list them all in detail.  Most of all I am an asset to you.  I am a highly trained person with the knowledge and skills to make your project and life easier. I am proud to be a part of a profession that offers so many things to so many people.  Next time you have a design/construction project give me a call.  We would love the opportunity to share all of this knowledge and information with you!