Architecture and construction, while always overlapping, have traditionally been thought to be separate fields. For larger architectural firms, that may still be the case. But for many smaller offices, construction, or at least construction management, is becoming more and more a part of the job. If not the job of the architect, certainly the job of another important team member, the project manager.
Project management may seem overwhelming due to the complexities of the role itself. While you may find it exciting to be part of the entire process, others may not want to get that far “into the weeds.” Here are some of the requirements of a project manager in working with or for an architectural firm.
Construction Site Management
The project manager helps establish a construction site by coordinating equipment rentals, arranging for infrastructure needs such as water and electricity, overseeing labor contracts and establishing a quality control framework for construction and building approval and inspections. He or she will also work with suppliers to ensure building materials are readily available and coordinate deliveries.
To avoid work stoppages, a project manager also needs to assume control over the project budget to ensure workmen, suppliers, and contractors all get paid on time. Some firms make the mistake of moving money from one account into another to cover the bills, but that only creates more problems and is probably illegal. At the least, it is a mismanagement of funds.
Many architects may not realize it, but they are already filling some of the duties of a project manager. Here’s a look at some additional responsibilities of the project manager:
- Analyzing the project: Researching feasibility from many angles, including urban planning, finances, and any legal or political issues.
- Coordinating approval process: Providing blueprints, feasibility studies and any other documentation needed to obtain approval from city or county planners.
- Coordinating project development: Establishing overall timeline, budget and quality standards in keeping with the client wishes and planning the design and construction processes, setting deadlines and milestones.
- Contractor management: Selecting a head contractor or serving as one on smaller projects, contracting with construction companies for their services.
- Following progress: Overseeing the project and coordinating with engineers, architects, suppliers and other stakeholders to resolve any issues that may arise.
- Client management: Meeting with clients often, even daily, to keep them updated on the progress of the project and any problems that may arise.
- Maintaining records: Keeping updated documentation on the entire building process and coordinating inspection process with city or county officials. RFI tracking software can be really effective in managing your projects and properly documenting it.
Sound exciting? Project management can be a very challenging, but rewarding career. If you’re an architect who wants to get more involved in the actual building process or someone who wants to be more involved with architecture, consider completing your project management degree online.
Finalizing the Project
A good project manager keeps detailed records during the entire design and building phases. When the project is complete, you should provide the client with a complete file of records for anything to do with the building, including its construction, materials used, inspection reports, permits, licensing and any warranty information that the client should have.
Because the project manager has such intimate knowledge of the building and everything that went into it during the construction process, there is an opportunity for providing post-construction services. Suggest a plan for maintaining the building and any special features it may have. For example, if the main lobby floor is marble, include instructions on how to care for that marble.
Project managers have their fingers in a lot of pies no matter what field they work in. For the field of architecture, you’ll have a chance to work with designers, builders, marketers, financial advisers and more. One thing is for sure: you’ll never be bored.