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LABOR: The Very Nature of Architectural Work

It’s a good bet that most people, including many young adults who have aspirations of becoming architects, think of architecture as a profession that is creative, exciting, and ground-breaking. Think I.M. Pei, Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Antoni Gaudi – the visionaries who headline the profession. Yet we know little or nothing of the many architects who brought their designs to completion.

In practice, architecture is work, or more accurately put, labor. For every thrilling rendering, hundreds of tedious pages of minute construction details, painstaking engineering plans, and exacting specifications must be created.

And that takes LABOR. Head down, concentrated, peer reviewed, checked and re-checked, redlined and edited, burn-the-midnight-oil LABOR, with a capital L.

Most folks have no idea the level of thought, planning and minute details that must be documented to keep a roof from leaking, or to ensure proper weight distribution on a foundation, or to enable sinks and toilets to drain and flow how you want them to.

Good architectural design is, like most worthwhile endeavors, 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration. Uninformed clients fail to understand the labor inputs of architecture, and therefore are prone to underestimate the value the architect’s office provides. Design without production is just a pretty picture. Realization of that design requires the concerted effort of many to bring it to fruition.

LACHIN Architects Draftsman Brian Broussard.

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