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Challenges of Design Management in Construction


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To focus on the challenges of design management in construction is to immediately raise a number of questions. What is design? What is management? What is construc-tion? Generally accepted answers to such questions stress the linearity of production processes. Design becomes associated with the work of professional actors, such as architects and engineers. Management is seen as a project management responsibility , the role of managers to monitor designers' progress and outputs. The term 'con-struction' is narrowly applied to a process of on-site assembly. In descriptions such as the conventional Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) stages, work in design is passed into a construction stage after the main design work has been completed. Based on such definitions, design management in construction has been explored in two main ways. First, it has been described as the management of the specialist professional expertise within consultant architecture and engineering firms at a pre-construction stage. Here researchers have discussed the commercial management of design firms (Winch and Schneider 1993; Emmitt 2007) and the differentiation and integration of design tasks into the conceptual design, interior layouts, façade, mechanical and electrical , structural and other subsystems. Second, it has been described as the management of vertical connections between phases of the design and construction process. Here researchers have articulated processes and protocols for the flow of materials, information and value for customers across the project lifecycle (Cooper et al. 2005). Our approach is more aligned with the latter tradition, but in this chapter we go further to argue that the conventional definitions, descriptions and understanding of design do not adequately address the new challenges of design management that are emerging in practice.
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Challenges of Design
Management in
Paolo Tombesi and Jennifer WhyTe
To focus on the challenges of design management in construction is to immediately
raise a number of questions. What is design? What is management? What is construc-
tion? Generally accepted answers to such questions stress the linearity of production
processes. Design becomes associated with the work of professional actors, such as
architects and engineers. Management is seen as a project management responsibil-
ity, the role of managers to monitor designers’ progress and outputs. e term ‘con-
struction’ is narrowly applied to a process of on-site assembly. In descriptions such as
the conventional Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) stages, work in design is
passed into a construction stage after the main design work has been completed.
Based on such definitions, design management in construction has been explored in
two main ways. First, it has been described as the management of the specialist profes-
sional expertise within consultant architecture and engineering firms at a pre- construction
stage. Here researchers have discussed the commercial management of design firms
(Winch and Schneider 1993; Emmitt 2007) and the differentiation and integration of
design tasks into the conceptual design, interior layouts, façade, mechanical and electri-
cal, structural and other subsystems. Second, it has been described as the management
of vertical connections between phases of the design and construction process. Here re-
searchers have articulated processes and protocols for the flow of materials, information
and value for customers across the project lifecycle (Ballard and Koskela 1998; Winch
1998; Austin et al. 2001; Gray and Hughes 2001; Winch 2003; Cooper et al. 2005).
Our approach is more aligned with the latter tradition, but in this chapter we go
further to argue that the conventional definitions, descriptions and understanding of
design do not adequately address the new challenges of design management that are
emerging in practice. From our perspective, the challenges in construction are different
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from those within consumer products industries because the construction sector in-
volves the production of socially and technically complex products and hence requires
close interactions between users and producers throughout the process (Hobday 1996;
Gann 2000). ere is a need for innovation in design of the built environment to en-
gender careful use resources in production; to shape sustainable lifestyles and to mitigate
and respond to a changing climate. At the same time, designers and managers operate in
complex organizational settings, increasingly involving public-private partnerships and
the distribution of design activities across global networks of manufacturing and use.
In developing our argument, we use the broader meaning of the term ‘construc-
tion’ to invoke the whole sector of the economy with a number of associated indus-
tries involved in the production and maintenance of the built environment. We draw
on work on industrial and social organization to see design not as a professional role
or stage of construction but as a set of synchronic and diachronic activities that in-
volve clients and end users, fabricators, component suppliers and tradesmen as well as
professionals. Management of design involves differentiating and allocating activities,
motivating people to work on them and coordinating the results of their labour: it
also involves managing expectations, identifying institutional gaps and ensuring con-
sistency across multiple strands of ongoing activity. After discussing the ‘professional
system of design’ we introduce a number of case studies from our own research to il-
lustrate good and poor design management from this perspective.
Design, Professions anD the BounDaries
of exPertise
e architectural and engineering design professions have dominated discussion of
design in the construction sector. From the beginning of architectural practice as a
modern profession, architectural institutions have been active in the advocacy of a
particular image of the building process that legitimates the social necessity of the
architect’s role (Kostoff 1974; Saint 2007). Since trades, contractors, and developers
gained a strong operative and decisional presence, this image had to account for the
actual spread of responsibilities without attaching it to a release of expertise. Authority
‘on the subject’ of architecture was connected with authority ‘over the operations’ of
the building process (Tombesi 2009). is could only happen by promoting, as John
Soane famously did in the late eighteenth century, a principle of non-compatibility
between the production of advice (i.e., design) and the production of goods (i.e., con-
struction), and by concentrating the ‘design function with architects insofar as they
were professional.
Much writing in this vein refers to a triangle of practice, with trust relationships be-
tween a client in a commissioning role, design as a technical agency and construction
management as a delivery function. Within this triangle of practice it was the ability to
instruct and monitor the work of others that gave architects their professional status.
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is implied a technologically exhaustive function, unfolding prior to construction
and organized progressively, which was to be reflected in the technical dimension of
the architect’s work: define and organize the information necessary to envision the
overall idea for the building, produce its various physical components, and determine
the processes required for the implementation of the plan.
During the twentieth century this design function became increasingly distributed
as processes of design and construction grew in complexity. In the twenty-first century
relationships are now undergoing rapid change, due to new building types and forms
of contracting, such as design and build, new tools and new approaches to delivery
such as public-private partnerships and the increasing importance of a digital infra-
structure for the delivery of project work (Whyte and Levitt 2010). As implied in the
right-hand diagram of Figure 13.1, contracts are now available that facilitate official
design assistance from several other parties, and procurement methods have been de-
veloped that parcel out the design effort in recognition of the actual distribution of
technical expertise across the industry and overlay it with construction (Bennett and
Ferry 1990; Pietroforte 1997).
Hence, current relationships can be seen as involving a polygon of practice, in
which there are an increasing number of design roles involving subcontractors en-
gaged in product engineering, testing and management. Yet, in many construction
contexts, the theoretical faculty to provide overarching instructions, originally as-
cribed to the architect as main agent of the principal, has left an indelible mark on the
FIGURE 13.1 Relationships in construction practice. © Tombesi and Whyte, 2011.
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way design is conceptualized – a largely autonomous activity, closely associated with
the work (and the services) of the architect plus fellow engineering professionals, and
culturally separated from delivery.
examPles of Design CoorDination Challenges
in ConstruCtion
e legacy of this view of design and construction is the multitude of projects fea-
turing construction shortcomings of different types, mostly ascribable to insufficient
coordination between design dimensions. ese include interface coordination; work-
manship control and maintenance planning; relationships between parts; clashes be-
tween functional programme and the assembly or between procurement design and
the expected performance; institutional vacuums and analytic gaps. Table 13.1 gives
Considering the examples in Table 13.1 (based on Tombesi 2004, 2009; Tombesi
et al. 2008), the Ara Pacis Museum is still considered to be a successful building by
many of the actors involved. is is because there is a perception that the defective so-
lutions highlighted do not belong to the life of the project, and are rather part of the
unavoidable contingent risk ever present in the industry. e building facades at Fed-
eration Square are indeed the indirect by-product of a combination that never contem-
plated building users’ needs, partly because the sequence of design operations would
not allow for it and partly because the specific brief was not there. e Turin Polytech-
nic campus and the Athletes’ Village in Turin could be seen as victims of the procure-
ment methods chosen for their development, and the consequent fragmentation of
design monitoring responsibilities. Even the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood,
Edinburgh, has been discussed as the result of an uneasy relationship between different
parts of procurement design (Bain 2005). Here, however, together with the examples
of Simmons Hall and the Kursaal Centre, it speaks of the distance between building
design and assembly design. e bridge in Venice and the Disney Concert Hall show
that both designers and project managers often operate with significant uncertainties,
which are sometimes created by the loose socio-technical circumstances.
What this set of examples shows is that the management of design in construction
goes beyond the detailed allocation of resources, the evaluation of alternatives, the
monitoring of decisions, or the effectiveness of communications within the project
team. Managing the project from a design perspective also means ensuring consis-
tency between the multiple streams of intellectual activity carried out across construc-
tions supply chains, which ultimately have a bearing over the quality of the building
Construction can be seen as a process characterized by ‘interdependence and uncer-
tainty’, in which important factors can reach beyond the project’s immediate contrac-
tual environment, and thus the network of transactions enabled within it. As Ruskin
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TABLE 13.1:
Example Problems Encountered and Results
Ara Pacis Museum, Rome,
Italy, 2006
Here there were problems combining construction components with different degrees of technological so-
phistication, seemingly without appropriate interface coordination, workmanship control and maintenance
planning. e result is a conspicuous collection of as-built defects that will be hard to redress, and a series of
nondesigned postoccupancy solutions that may go against its performance in the long run.
Australian Federation Square,
Melbourne, Australia, 2002
Here there were problems with the relationship between the external boundary design and office design. In this
case, the technical composition of the envelope and its conflict with interior space is not only a result of the archi-
tects’ decisions but also a reflection of how their services were procured and divided, how tenancy was selected, and
how the brief was defined (Wong and Teoh 2008). Workspaces behind the highly intricate triangle-based outer fa-
çade of the main building do not have enough protection from the sound emanating from the square, variations in
external temperature, or the incidence of daylight on the internal environment.
Polytechnic of Turin, Turin,
Italy, 2006
Here the functional programme clashes with the development and assembly of its manufactured component
systems, particularly in a situation where construction is being procured while budget-related space planning
is yet to be finalized. At the Polytechnic, changes in the buildings section of parts of the complex have com-
bined with completion pressures and excessive underbidding under a particular form of design-build inte-
grated contract to generate under par subcontracted built work
Winter Olympics Athletes’
Village, Turin, Italy, 2006
Major inconsistencies in the reinforced concrete structure of some of its buildings, largely due to the fact that
different design stages were assigned to different agencies under different contracts, and that these had found
it difficult (or not convenient) to coordinate decisions at a time when handover dates would allow technical
details to be overlooked.
MIT’s Simmons Students’ Hall,
in Cambridge, MA, USA, 2002
e decision of the architect and the structural engineer to conceive the envelope as a giant Vierendeel truss,
made of precast waffle-like panels (so that the skeleton of the building would conform to the architectural
idea), turned the university dorm into a nearly impossible construction undertaking, and eventually the most
expensive student structure in America per bed. In the end, the solution for the panels was arrived at by the
general contractor, through the construction of elaborate mockups that were used to design and reproduce
the trade sequences required (Gardiner 2008).
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Southern Cross Station,
Melbourne, Australia, 2005
Problems, however, can occur also when the overall development process goes out of phase, creating friction
between building procurement and expected performance. e passive control design solutions developed for
the building were placed under scrutiny shortly after the opening of the facility to the public, when serious
internal air pollution problems emerged. Eventually, it became clear that the problem did not reside in how
the fumes exhaust system had been designed but in the fact that delays in the construction programme had
deferred the erection of a wall needed for the section of the terminal to work, environmentally, as planned
(Drake 2008).
Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh,
UK, 2004
A critical relationship exists between the detailed design of the building and decisions related to its construc-
tability or the monitoring of its construction. In Edinburgh, the Debating Chamber of the parliamentary
building had to close in March 2006, after a strut from the roof structure came loose, later to discover that
the failure was due not to the design of the component but to the workmanship of the subcontractor (e
Holyrood Inquiry 2004).
Kursaal Centre, San Sebastián,
Spain, 2000
A similar situation occurred in the foyer of the Kursaal eatre in 1998, when the main concrete stairs col-
lapsed, following the structural failure of their anchorings to the steel facade, after they had been
redesigned during construction to simplify assembly procedures (Serna et al. 2000).
New Bridge, Venice, Italy, 2008 Even successfully completed artefacts can reflect coordination shortcomings (or institutional vacuums) in
their development process. Although this was hailed as a structural tour de force, it is now waiting the addi-
tion of a steel-frame, egg-shaped cabin for mobility-impaired passengers because, at the time of the planning
permit, it did not (or was not made to) respect the inclusive design legislation that applies to public works in
Disney Concert Hall, Los
Angeles, USA, 2003
In another example of such an institutional vacuum, here the external volumes had been defined in
accordance with the city’s guidelines for vertical surfaces. e decision to substitute the original stone clad-
ding with steel panels for value engineering purposes created light refraction and heat gain problems for sur-
rounding buildings, which caused, in the end, the partial covering of the roof with grey tarpaulin.
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(1853) had already intimated, the division of design responsibilities has socio-cultural/
technical connotations that are institutionalized and predate (or precede) project-spe-
cific agreements but can influence the quality of the work performed under them by
laying out opportunities for integration that are either conducive to effective collabo-
rations or mindful of potential barriers/hurdles.
If one accepts the disciplinary openness of this proposition, the boundaries of ‘de-
sign management’ become blurred with those of project design’. Since the procure-
ment of any building project requires a number of autonomous design dimensions to
be concurrently active within the construction field, the design management function
requires mutual relationships between different design processes. Determining such
relationships on the basis of an understanding and judgment of the project’s aims,
the resources available, the socio-technical context, the timeframe and the rate of
change internal to each design dimension is itself an act of design – that is, of project
Designing anD managing: KeePing it real
To take the notion of design in construction beyond the cultural boundaries de-
fined under the ‘professional system’ requires attention to the characterizing traits
of the related activities. Design has variously been discussed as a problem- defining,
problem-solving, information-structure activity that, on the basis of ideas and
(partial) knowledge, defines a specific course of action (Schön 1983; Hatchuel
2001). In these terms, design activity enters all of the dimensions of the build-
ing procurement process: building production, building erection, building use and
maintenance, and project definition and control. is reconceptualizes a building
process as a ‘system of design production’ independent of the profession – a cycle,
that is, within which all of the information necessary for the implementation of the
building is conceived and either produced or assembled (Gray et al. 1994). It fo-
cuses attention on interactions with users, the trades and the hidden design work
that goes on throughout the supply-chain in components; in temporary works
and in assembly sequences.
Design involves a process of representation, using drawings and models to develop
and consider possible future states. is is the great skill of the professional designers
but the great danger is that the drawing rather than the building becomes seen as the
end-product of their work. Design quality indicators were developed in the UK as part
of an attempt to engage a range of stakeholders in design processes (Gann and Whyte
2003). eir strength is in providing a structured process for engagement and discus-
sion of design with the various stakeholders and end-users at different stages, within
the wider context of performance measurement initiatives. is wider process of de-
sign management through interaction between professionals and suppliers requires a
constant validation of models with reality.
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While the production of the built environment is often institutionalized in ways that
do not enable interactions across this cycle, there are examples of the building process
conceived as a system of design production. First, Buntrock (2002) describes a context
in which architecture is embedded within a building process, with design details ne-
gotiated on site by contractors, manufacturers and architects and great attention paid
to maintaining collaborative relationships. Her study was conducted in Japan, where
the construction sector is comparatively consolidated, with large contractors offering
a broad range of construction and professional services, doing in-house research and
development, financing some projects during construction and holding the economic
power to obtain support from subcontractors and suppliers. She argues that top archi-
tects, working in construction firms and in independent practice, are able to benefit
from these resources.
e implications of her study are quite different to those from the study of the Jap-
anese car industry, which have been used to promulgate a culture of monitoring and
measurement with information delivered ahead of action, instead implying a design
process that continues as work is delivered on site, with little information delivered in
advance. As design continues on site and there are no binding drawings, the reduction
of change orders is not a goal. Construction is perceived as large-scale assembly and
the plans and elevations of a building are reworked and further refined long after the
structure is up.
Decisions about detailing and material sizes are based on in situ conditions and
made by people in daily contact with the building while it is under construction. For
example, measurements for a door will be taken after the opening is roughed out. is
means that there is no need to use tolerances to account for the possible variations in
the initial stages of construction, and it accounts for the neatly finished appearances
of the related buildings.
Great architects and designers sustain an engagement with the materials beyond
the drawing. e success of the team that designed and constructed the roof of Heath-
row Terminal 5 depended on close working relationships between the architects, steel
erectors, steel casting foundry, engineers, temporary works designer, the construction
contractor and a host of other members of the supply chain. It was organized around
a set of hybrid practices (Harty and Whyte 2010), using a range of physical and digi-
tal models to explore aspects of design and progress understanding, with the archi-
tects spending time working with fabricators in the steel foundry, as well as temporary
works and construction managers. Hence in successfully accomplished design work,
the process of making a design real involves a dialogue between professional designers
with a focus on the overall architecture, with those concerned with subsystem design,
components, fabrication and assembly. As the architect for the roof described:
e most important thing is that the people around the table, who speak for their
own firms, understand what you’re talking about, and get it, and can go back and
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do their work, and we are all literally again in one room. We were constantly build-
ing large-scale models of the roof, and then we started to integrate through model
building, how the roof actually negotiates the substructure.
Design management in ConstruCtion as JuDgment
anD measurement
is chapter suggests new directions for research design management research and
practice in construction. e idea that ‘project design’ and ‘design management’ are
two segments of the same function was contained in Caudill’s famous 1970s writings
about design, where he stated that every building project should be led jointly by a
‘troika’ of experts, each sponsoring a discipline of practice: management, design and
technology (Caudill 1971). In Caudill’s world, however, project design and building
design were considered on the same level, almost interchangeably, and were likely to
be developed by the same professional agency. e twenty-first century construction
sector is organizationally complex, with design activities distributed widely. It faces
substantial and new challenges.
In construction, there is a need for project management and control, but a cul-
ture of monitoring and measuring can drive out the iterative experimentation that is
required in a design inquiry. Writers have articulated the difficulty faced by designers
in a performance measurement culture (Allinson 1993) and have drawn attention to
the different judgment- and measurement-based approaches to design quality (Gann
and Whyte 2003). e judgment-based approach to design is prospective, concerned
with the future; whereas the measurement based approach is retrospective, measur-
ing the past and checking progress. It is this kind of design activity that has inspired
management scholars to draw parallels between design and management seeing both
as forms of reflective practice or inquiry (Boland and Collopy 2004). For those from a
judgment-based approach, managing occurs through the activity rather than separately
from it – those engaged in design activities act as design managers, rather than design
management emerging as a separate profession.
Hence Caudill’s formation could be recomposed at project level by way of techni-
cal coalitions strategically ‘designed’ to respond to the reflective management tasks at
hand. In the case of the roof subproject team, the design management role was passed
around the team as the design developed, starting with the architect and then passing
to the steel fabricator, with the construction manager keeping the team on track in
terms of deadlines and compliance. For all of the parties involved this was not busi-
ness as usual but an experience of what construction could be like in a collaborative
Computers offer great opportunities and also great threats to this collaborative cul-
ture. New digital tools for design, coordination and governance of large construction
projects include centralized project archives that can be used to track design progress
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by the various parties; shared digital models and prototypes; automated search facili-
ties; simulation programmes and communications technologies. ese technologies
are having a dramatic impact on the way design work is organized, for example en-
abling design work to be distributed globally over multiple offices to speed up its de-
livery. New practices that combine digital and physical ways of working are emerging
(Harty and Whyte 2010) and their implications for design quality and for practices
of design management need to be better understood. ese technologies also herald
a host of new intermediary roles, as document controllers, 3D CAD technicians and
others become more salient in the coordination of professional design work.
Hence the aim of this chapter is to open up debate, highlight the broad challenges
faced in design management in construction and provoke the reader to consider the
alternative approaches and futures rather than to provide definitive answers. By open-
ing up our definitions of design management to understand the production of the built
environment as iteratively achieved and involving a wide range of players, we inevitably
have to face its complexity. e focus shifts from the traditional triangle of practice to a
wider set of actors – a polygon of practice, as shown in black within Figure 13.1.
What strategies can be used for design management in construction in this con-
text? Our work suggests that there are a number of areas in which design management
can be improved generally through work that negotiates common objectives between
different production processes and achievable internal parameters, defines contin-
gency plans to be activated in the event of design processes’ relative failure, monitors
the procurement of products with different lead times and degrees of uncertainty built
into them, builds robustness into the design system by working to understand how
elements can be removed from the critical path of the project, and plans interfaces be-
tween design products of different scales and intensity.
e management of any production process involving socially varied investments
and returns is intrinsically political. Design management in construction is no excep-
tion: different approaches to it have different production and product implications.
Hence, the role of the design manager cannot be detached from the relational envi-
ronment in which the position exists. Design management may indeed involve shap-
ing and being shaped by the context within which design work happens – for example
through interactions with clients, regulators and funders, as well as directing the de-
tailed work of designers.
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... However, is it likely to provide the contribution needed? Previous discussions on design management in construction [55] have sought to clarify the differences between the measurement-based approaches commonly used in managing construction processes and the judgement-based approaches that characterise design activity [56,57], ending up highlighting the cultural friction between the two. Furthermore, within the 25-year timeframe notionally enclosing this paper, institutional interpretations have tended to reduce the technical profile of the managerial role to the advantage of the administrative one, with the result that project managers are nowadays perceived as procedure-monitoring figures rather than integration-designing ones. ...
... By contrast, the context of the current discussion is defined by the difficulty of the proposition, precisely in light of the technical and organizational complexity of the type of projects under scrutiny. Yet, Caudill's formation could be recomposed at a project level by way of technical coalitions strategically "designed" to respond to the reflective management tasks at hand by transforming the conventional "triangle of practice" (client, professional, and contractor) into a "polygon of practice" (client, professionals, contractors, suppliers, and consultants) [55,59]. Admittedly, this can be assumed to be the objective behind the relatively recent adoption of contractual methods, leading to the operative "alliancing" of the actors involved in complex projects, theoretically leading to the exchange of information and the blending of design and procurement decisions [60][61][62][63][64]. Irrespective of the positive experiences recorded by these methods of "integrated project delivery" when used within receptive environments [65], not every complex project will be able to resort to the type of relational contracting implied, either because of actors' different inclinations towards it, or because of bureaucratic needs for independent monitoring. ...
... Such cases posit the need for an altogether different figure, entrusted with defining and preserving the "architecture of the project", i.e., its industrial design, amid the tensions and the gaps inhabiting its social spaces. As indicated elsewhere, the description of the profile should involve the ability to shape the context within which design work happens, and include at least the following: (a) the negotiation of common objectives between different production processes and achievable internal parameters, (b) the definition of contingency plans to be activated in the event of design processes′ relative failure, (c) the monitoring of the procurement of products with different lead times and degrees of uncertainty built into them, (d) the building of robustness into the design system by working to understand how elements can be removed from the critical path of the project, and (e) the planning of interfaces between design products of different scales and intensity [55]. Twenty-five years after Bilbao, the time may have arrived to consider how to make this vision unfold. ...
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The opening of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao in 1997 heralded the beginning of an era in world architecture defined by iconic buildings underpinned by mediatic exposure and the belief in the power of design to leverage urban conditions. Today, a conspicuous number of such buildings featuring non-standard geometries are experiencing accelerated forms of decay with the emergence of construction defects. This study compares the type of problems encountered in the Jubilee Church in Rome (1996–2003), analysed in previous studies, with the failures of other two contemporary buildings of analogous features, namely: the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia (1996–2005) and the Museum of the Arts of the XXI Century in Rome (1998–2010). The findings of the study show that the accelerated decay of the three buildings shares familiar features and common challenges: geometry of the façade, local environmental factors, labour organisation, and limited regard of maintenance principles. Building on the patterns identified here, the paper suggests structural reasons for their emergence and speculates on the potential benefits deriving from the amplification of the design function.
... Recent research has proposed that the design process should be studied through an evaluation of its performance [31,32], an implementation of integrated management systems and visual management tools [33], and its optimization [16]. Nevertheless, there are still several challenges in the design management of construction projects, for instance, the challenges posed by the collaborative methodologies of various specialties and the use of technology [34]. Thus, it is important to facilitate the application of collaborative technologies and methodologies to design management, considering that the extensive interdependence of design information and the tasks of many trades that are involved in design increases the complexity of this process. ...
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There is qualitative evidence showing that design teams that use BIM-lean management have a higher level of interaction than design teams that do not use this management approach. However, there is no quantitative empirical evidence of this higher level of interaction. Therefore, the objective of this paper is to present quantitative empirical evidence of the differences among the various types of interactions of a design team. Two case studies were analyzed, and their design management was assessed from a lean BIM perspective while their team interactions were assessed using social network analysis (SNA). To achieve the aim of this paper, four steps were performed: (1) case study selection; (2) description of the design management of the projects from the lean design management and BIM perspectives; (3) assessment of design team interaction; and (4) comparison using SNA. The results show that the project that applied BIM-lean management exhibited higher levels of interactions among its design team members than the traditional team; transparent, orderly, and standardized information flows; a collaborative, trusting, and learning environment; and commitment management. None of these interaction elements were visible in the project that did not apply BIM-lean management. It is suggested that an analysis be performed on a representative sample of projects in the future so that conclusive statistical inferences could be made.
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Information technologies are used across all stages of the construction process, and are crucial in the delivery of large projects. Drawing on detailed research on a construction megaproject, we take a practice-based approach to examining the practical and theoretical tensions between existing ways of working and the introduction of new coordination tools in this paper. We analyze the new hybrid practices that emerge, using insights from actor-network theory to articulate the delegation of actions to material and digital objects within ecologies of practice. The three vignettes that we discuss highlight this delegation of actions, the "plugging" and "patching" of ecologies occurring across media and the continual iterations of working practices between different types of media. By shifting the focus from tools to these wider ecologies of practice, the approach has important managerial implications for the stabilization of new technologies and practices and for managing technological change on large construction projects. We conclude with a discussion of new directions for research, oriented to further elaborating on the importance of the material in understanding change.
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For at least the last 80 years, construction firms have been exhorted to improve their processes by modelling themselves on 'manufacturing', and the current concern for re-engineering construction is the latest manifestation of this tradition. Yet, it is rarely clearly specified which model of manufacturing should be adopted. The aim of this paper is to clarify the issues by placing the wide range of initiatives encompassed within the CIB's definition of re-engineering construction in an historical and comparative context. It reviews the history of the development of the dominant model of manufacturing - largely based on the auto industry - culminating in lean production. It then identifies an equally well-established 'alternative' model of manufacturing associated with the production of complex systems. It is suggested that attempts to re-engineer the construction process have tended to focus on the dominant model - borrowing concepts from mass production during the 1950s and 1960s, and lean production during the 1990s. The mass production model was never very relevant for construction and it is suggested that the lean production model is unlikely to be of broad relevance to the construction industry beyond housing. More appropriate are models of manufacturing derived from the complex systems industries, particularly concepts associated with project management, and the role of systems integrators.
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The paper develops a model for the strategic management of architectural practice with the aim of better understanding how practices compete with each other for work around a tripartite definition of quality. It assesses the ways in which architectural practices are distinctive as knowledge-based organizations, before assessing some of the characteristics of their industrial context. Drawing on the work of Maister and Porter, it then develops a model of generic strategies for architectural practice which, it is suggested, can form the basis for further research and consultancy. Finally, some comments are made suggesting why architectural practices are relucant to think in strategic terms.
The paper describes a study of the newly emerging role of specialist contractors in the UK building industry. It identifies a common strategy employed by specialists in dealing with the complexity and diversity of modern building. This is to maintain a consistent operating core insulated from the firm's environment. It also highlights particular problems which arise in current practice in respect of contracts, design responsibilities, coordination of work on site and the incidence of variations. It also shows that opportunities and problems arise from the power of modern information and the demands for quality assurance. All these individual issues give rise to a need to review the training of operatives and specialists’ investment in research and development. For the rest of the industry, the study suggests a need to develop better ways of evaluating competitive design proposals from specialists.
Andrew Saint is general editor of the Survey of London. His book is a study of relations between engineering and architecture since their modern emergence in Europe and the United States. Relations between the two professions are complex and varied. Sometimes the Renaissance fantasy obtains: an architect designs a masterpiece, then hands the vision to an engineer to figure out how to make it. Sometimes engineers are part of the design process, working closely with architects from the beginning. At other times, engineers do the work we might expect architects to do yet produce buildings that continue to delight. Inventors of architectonic forms may belong to neither profession. Posterity remembers Eiffel as an engineer, though more accurately he was a contractor-fabricator. There is more to this book than descriptive history. Saint chronicles the rising tide of cant about the architect as an artist (who makes things beautiful), while the engineer is a technician (who makes things work). Any way you look at it, this dichotomy fails. Engineering is a highly inventive practice, and as "intuitive," "irrational," and "aesthetic" as anything in architecture. Engineering forms are never calculated. There are calculations aplenty, but the form is not arrived at by calculation, as if it were a mathematical result. Moreover, aesthetic accomplishment cannot be limited to a design; it requires a work, and one that is well made. When an architect, Le Corbusier for example, is indifferent to mechanics, his buildings begin to look shabby almost immediately. Inventive engineering has an aesthetic moment; memorable architecture has a structural moment. Engineers must visualize and make aesthetic choices, and only architects who appreciate the work of engineering can take the invention of form to the limits of new technologies. Barry Allen is the author of Truth in Philosophy, Knowledge and Civilization, and Artifice and Design: Art and Technology in Human Experience. He teaches philosophy at McMaster University and is associate editor of Common Knowledge for philosophy and politics.
How did architects get to be architects in any given period in history? How were they trained? How did they find their clients and communicate with them? What did society think of them? Spiro Kostof's The Architect, a collection of essays by historians and architects, explores these and other intriguing questions about the profession of architecture. The first book in more than fifty years to survey the profession from its beginnings in ancient Egypt to the modern day, it is the most complete synthesis to date of our knowledge of how the architect's profession developed. Included are a major study of the Beaux-Arts, a vivid memoir by the distinguished architect Josephy Esherick, and an excellent chapter on women which demostrates how the ethic of professionalism has contributed to the exploitation of women in this as in many other professions. The Architect places the current dilemma about the architect's role in society in historical perspective and offers a good overview of the development of one of the world's oldest professions.