Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Balancing acts: the irony of my expertise

Y'all know I have kvetched before about how Howie, my project manager, needs me to work no more than 18 hours a week on TCMC's surgery renovation and addition. The reason I'm annoyed by his request/demand is twofold: a) we're supposed to do to this project in less time but still maintain his standards, and b) we're supposed to do this in less time and maintain any kind of decent standards. While Intern Timmy can do a lot of drawing and figuring out some stuff without my help, I need to look at the drawings and the set one more time before this all goes out a week from today, and there are certain pieces of information of which I need to keep track (or track down). Hence, I still have to spend some time on the project, and that 18 hours can build up fast. First, I make some phone calls and review the specs with Howie. That spec review will surely spur some questions that I have to go ask of someone and research and so on, and then a day will pass and some of the phone calls get returned with actual answers and other phone calls and emails will be returned with more questions. This gets even more complicated when you remember that Howie has to know everything about the project, and so instead of being able to use one's best judgement, we now have to involve Howie. There are times when that process is helpful, and there are times when it's beyond frustrating and slows us down.

I remarked to Howie last week that I was trying desperately not to work more than 18 hrs/wk on TCMC, but that there's stuff that just has to be done, and not doing it is not an option, and handing it over to Intern Timmy isn't an option either. Howie sighed empathetically. "Yeah, that's the problem. This job can't afford you and me, but we need you and me to get the jobs." That's the sad irony of it all. In order to get work, especially in this climate, a firm needs really good, skilled, knowledgeable healthcare architects who understand a building inside and out in order to go after the work. We have to be able to walk into a room and say, "Look at these architects we have! They will design your building/department for you, and they know sooooo much about healthcare buildings!" What we don't tell them is that we bill our clients upwards of $100/hr for my time and even more for Howie's time. So we ask for a low fee in order to get the job, and then we can't even afford to work on it and use the expertise that a project like this so desperately needs. It's such an unfortunate situation that I've used the word "desperate" twice in this paragraph, not including this sentence.

So I have to find other things to do, such as work on a project with Mickey. And oddly enough, I'm fine with it, as his project has lots to do in a short amount of time, and they need the help. But it feels really weird to do interior elevation redlines for another project when your own project has a deadline less than a week away. Eeek.

1 comment:

Wilderness Gina said...

I have an idea. Lock Howie out on the roof of the building and when he starts to freeze tell him that your time alotted to opening doors on his project have expired and he'll have to wait for Intern Timmy or something. Sorry. (hur hur) How long you think he'll last at Negative 2 degrees?