Friday, August 7, 2009

The further adventures of Scooby Doo & Associates

Lawd, y'all, Guy climbed into the car this afternoon fit to bust. He had just gotten off of a long conference call with the two designers from Scooby Doo & Associates, and he had a story to tell.

"So, these guys send me some wall sections along with the enlarged elevations that the wall sections belong to,right?" Guy begins. "First of all, I wish they'd mentioned this, because I'd already started working through the wall sections myself. But anyway, they worked through 'em, drew 'em up, and sent them to me so we could discuss them in our phone conference today."

Note: a wall section is just what it sounds like. It's like cutting a slice through the exterior wall of a building and looking inside, like "Body Worlds" but with a building instead of a person. That way, the contractor can see how tall everything should be and what's inside the wall and how we're keeping water out of it and how to make it stand up and so on. They're typical on EVERY architecture project that involves an exterior wall.

"So," I asked. "How did the call go?"

"Ohh, my God," Guy said, barely able to stifle a laugh. "These guys, they kept talking about how exhausted they were, exhausted from working out--"

"Exhausted from working out a couple of typical wall sections?!" I interrupted.

Guy broke into a full-on guffaw. "Exactly! Exhausted from figuring out the details that we do on a regular basis! Typical wall sections!"

"And they're 'exhausted' from doing this because they've been actually having to think--"

"--yeah! EXACTLY! Having to think! Thiiiiink about how buiiiiiiildings go togeeeeeeetherrrrrr!" Guy finished while slapping the car's dashboard.

I nearly ran over a bicyclist, I was laughing so hard. "So, how were the wall sections?" I finally asked.

"Well," Guy replied, "I give them credit for a good attempt."

"So...they weren't--"

"They weren't even right, not even close in some areas. Whoever drew them, I give them credit for trying, but mostly because it gives me something to start with and correct and I don't have to start from scratch, but they weren't very right."

"Awww," I gushed as if I were talking to my cats. "Shumwun dwew a waww seck-shun! Aw, puddin', dat's sho shweet!"

I mentioned the first SD&A story to Bosley recently, and he told me that his experience with big-name/starchitect firms had been similar for almost his entire 30-year career. Back in the 1980s, he and Design Associates worked with a big-name firm in Chicago as part of a joint venture. He and a colleague went to this Big Firm to do some planning for a hospital, and then when it came time to sketch up some options for the hospital's master planning options, it seemed as if Big Firm's people were stuck. How would they ever get all this drawn up and done? Bosley and his colleague said, "Give us some trace paper and round up some markers, and we'll sketch this up in a couple of hours." The Big Firm employees--and managers and VPs--seemed stunned that anyone could put the mental energy into something, be efficient and effective, and figure. things. out.

"Then," Bosley recounted with a devilish smirk, "we needed to make copies of the sketches to distribute to the hospital's board for a meeting the next morning, and these Big Firm guys were just hemming and hawing, like 'oh, how are we going to get these copies done? there's a lot to do here, and the copy shop is in the other building across town that Big Firm owns, oh no...' so over lunch, we just grabbed the sketches, found another kinda-large architecture firm in town, asked if we could talk to their in-house copy center guy, and we asked him if he'd make all our copies for us for $20, and he said yes."

"That was a lot of cash in the '80s!" I exclaimed.

"Yeah, and he took it and did the copies for us," Bosley said. "By the time we got back to Big Firm's office, they were still panicking a bit about getting the copies made, and we just said, 'yeah, we went and got them done.' And they were stunned that you--that anyone--could just..." He waved his hands a bit. "...get things done!"

Evidently, there's less thing-getting-doneing going on in the world these days. My healthcare colleagues and I at Design Associates get stuff done, and we're finding that a lot of other firms--and people--just don't. Contigo Architects, with whom I'm working on Frontier County Hospital, seems like they drag their feet a bit and don't just sit down, think something through, and solve it. Is it that hard to just figure stuff out? I mean, yes there are people with cognitive disorders now and again but seriously, is it that hard to sit down and work stuff out? Holla back, my people--is this what you experience as well?


paul mitchell said...

Short answer? Yes.

Long answer. I am working on an airport renovation right now for Dumbass Architects and they could not figure out how to get as-builts done under an elevated slab. I dropped through a floor hatch and said, "Hand me the tape." They almost spilled their lattes on their ties.

kimc said...

Sounds like attention deficit disorder. The well-kept secret about attention is that people are missing the fact that a long attention span is a learned skill, not something you are born with. They just don't teach it anymore.
That's just my opinion. I have no official reason you should take my opinion as factual on this subject....

LMH said...

I'm a scientist, and I find resistance in people to look up the reactions they are doing in well established literature. Don't you want to know if someone else figured it out already?

I also encounter resistance in just getting things done around the lab - and these people are getting PhDs!!!

Some people aren't afraid of working hard and some people are used to coasting. I think it's better not to be the smartest kid in class and work for big name place. It's good to have to work for something.

Hard work + brains trumps brains every time.

BaxtersMum said...

If you're never held accountable for doing actual work, then you never learn.

Also - wall sections by Scooby and Co? They sound like 2nd grade shoe box dioramas.


Wilderness Gina said...

I'll bet you could get drawings copied at a Tech School. They have huge printers, course you'd have to take them over on CD... And $20 wasn't a lot of cash in the 80's. Not for some really big drawings. I think you named that Big Name Firm correctly- Scooby Do Et. Al.