Thursday, November 11, 2010
It's been a while since I mentioned the MRI project with Will. Since Will is a partner, he usually isn't that involved in the day-to-day management of a project. Therefore, an associate is the next level down at my office (and at many firms across the country) who would actually manage a project. For the MRI project, Will assigned Orville as the managing associate, me as the architect, and Intern Devon as the intern/drawing-and-printing lackey. It's a small project, really--we're putting in an MRI into an existing space and renovating some nearby offices as well. What makes it tough is that the project has to be built on a really fast schedule so that research group that's going in halvsies with the research facility can move into the MRI suite in March and start doing their research. Like big research. Like they're-on-the-cusp-of-curing-three-major-diseases big. Oh, and did I mention that we haven't even finished the construction documents for the project, and they're picking the contractor in December? And they want all this done in less than three months (Jan-Mar)?
I'll wait a moment while all my architectural readers twitch and convulse regarding those last few sentences.
So, Will puts me on the project because I've done four MRIs in ten years, three of them in the last five years. Will brings on Orville presumably to run the project and because he has a lot of construction experience and has done two MRIs himself. However, in the past couple of months, I have found that I really like Orville as a person and loathe him as an architect. I'm having to get all the engineers in the room for coordination meetings and and run those coordination meetings as well as the meetings with the users and basically run this project. Orville has done the specs for the project (eventually), but hasn't really reviewed the drawings at any point that I can tell. He comes in at ten am and calls me eventually to ask "hey, did uh....did you see...........this...this email from So-and-So...?" And my response is almost always, "Yeah. Go up in your email about five or six exchanges to where So-and-So responded at 9:34 am and you'll see our solution to the problem." Dude wasn't even in on Friday, and these drawings are due this Monday. While Orville has had some interesting comments and suggestions on how to fix things, it's like his head isn't even in the project most of the time. Even riding in a car with him from the research facility back to our office is unsettling and time-wasting--there's a quick exit off the highway that takes you straight to our office, but he's wandering all over the back roads of Denver's industrial fringes and has-been neighborhoods.
This is my fear, as un-PC as it might be to say or write it: I think Orville is going senile.
He's 67, and several years ago he had some work done on his heart (stents or something), and according to my dear friend Vinnie the psychologist, having your heart worked on in such an invasive way can really slow you down both in terms of physical speed and mental processing capacity. And I fear that's what's happened to Orville. He is quite literally acting too slow to be on this project with Devon and me. So on a project in which I'm only supposed to work about 4-8 hours a week (which is what Will told Sven), I'm working more like 20 hours a week because it's the only way to make the project even stand a chance of being successful.
So here's my question, faithful readers: is it wrong of me to express this concern to Sven? I feel like I'm being ageist if I say something like "Orville is too slow to run this project", but I feel like I need to explain to Sven why I'm not able to fully keep on top of the four Gestalt projects I'm running for him and why I've had to work overtime for the past couple of weeks. Further, I'm hearing from other folks in the office that they've had similar experiences in working with Orville (e.g., the interior designer who had to suck it up and run the client meetings because they no longer had the patience for Orville's constant non sequiturs, jokes, and random stories of his childhood growing up in Leadville). At least people like him (which is more than Howie can say for himself at the moment), but working with him is frustrating and unproductive.