Friday, April 22, 2005

CAD Monkey vs. The Crazy, odds 20:1

Still waiting for doctor appointment.

Still crazy.

Yesterday, I thought, "I haven't posted anything related to the architectural working world in a long time." I blame my current bout with The Crazy. However, yesterday's encounter with a designer gave me the perfect reason to get back on topic.

At one point in my life, I used to think I wanted to be a designer- the person who comes up with the "big picture" of the building, rather than someone who works out the nit-pickery. That time was very early in architecture school, before I had actually met any designers. By the end of school, I had already begun to gravitate towards the Realm of Practicality- to the point where my thesis advisor kept yelling at me to stop worrying about how many restrooms my thesis project had and just design the damn building.

Designers simply live in a different dimension than the CAD monkeys of the world. They become so far removed from the process of making their sketches "real" and buildable, that they just don't think in those terms. Further, they start to expect the rules of construction (and, by proxy, the CAD monkeys) to bend to their wills.

My current craptacular project involves a little bit of addition, a little bit of infill, and a whole lot of coordination nightmare. Yesterday, I was trying to take the designer's elevation and turn it into real, live construction documents. There were issues. Knowing that I would be asking for a smackdown if I just moved things without asking the designer, I brought up the issues with him.

"I need to move the windows down a few feet. They are conflicting with the ceiling inside."
"Those windows need to stay where they are. It should work out; the ceiling is 9 feet in there."
"No, the ceiling in that room is only 8 feet. It hits right in the middle of the glass."
"Well, then make the ceiling 9 feet." *
CAD Monkey mentally rolls her eyes.

"I need to move the windows horizontally as well, because the measurements don't work out to even brick dimensions."
"Well, then, break the bricks." **
CAD Monkey mentally slaps herself on the forehead.

"I'm trying to resolve the elevation with what's inside the building. I'll print it out when I'm finished and get your approval."
"Make sure you maintain the order of the elevation."
It's not "ordered" now, you crazy old man. Seriously. The windows are all over the place, they are differing sizes, nothing lines up, the control joints are at no discernably equal distance, and there is no regard for what's happening behind the windows. And also? The elevation I'm working on is for the dock side of the building; also known as the Ass Side of the Building. Who the hell cares what the window placement looks like?!?

Don't get me wrong, the guy is brilliant. His buildings are tasteful and elegant. He just needs to go away now, because the foo-foo phase of the project is over. Let me worry about the Ass Side.

* I can't just move the ceiling up a foot. This is an existing building, and there's a buttload of ductwork already up there.
** Cutting large quantities of brick in any other dimension than equal halves makes the construction costs higher.


Anonymous said...

My favorite interior desecrator story: The interior designer was put in charge of space planning nursing unit. The walls were not lining up with the mullions on the curtain wall, so instead of talking to the Architects about adjusting the exterior envelope, they just moved the mullions to line up with the walls. Of course, this did not take into account the other floors.

Geoff said...

Yeah, it's a pain to work out that kind of stuff with poor support from the designer or project manager. Look at it this way though - at least you aren't finding out in construction that the windows are taller than the ceiling. Better to figure it out now.