Hello Design Manager

January 14, 2017 | | Practice


As the construction industry continually evolves, we as participants both commercially and personally adapt and refine, finding the ‘best fit’ for our expertise.  At Quadric we have always kept one ear to the ground, listening for the direction the clients want to take their projects in.  We have noticed, and those of you in the industry would have no doubt also noticed, that over the last few years a shift in the thinking to the way projects are procured, relationships are forged, and ultimately changing the roles and responsibilities of those that are party to a project.  Now, ours is not to question whether one particular brand of procurement is better than other.  In fact, as a Builder we feel that we rarely get the opportunity to influence such things.  We are in a key position however, to notice, comment, and positively react to such change.

A recent post on social media entitled “The Job Architect is dead! Long live the Design Manager!” from an fellow industry professional got us thinking about the role of the Design Manager and what that means for the traditional role of Architect or Designer.  Whilst it is an excellent snapshot of the situation, we draw different conclusions about the role of the Design Manager and see this new shift is a way to lend additional support to the Architect and Designer thereby making their place even more necessary.

When Quadric first opened it’s doors, similar to the writers experience, the Architect was first point of contact with the client and performed the role of Principal Consultant.  Soon the progression was for clients to use project managers to help them deliver their projects quicker.  At the time, all projects were fully documented before tender ideas where developing about other ways of speeding up the process of getting the contractor started on site sooner. This developed into design and build where tender occurred earlier in the design process.

“Originally the service of advising the client about the best way to procure the project had been provided by the architect, now this was being taken over by others.  The profession as a whole did not seem too worried about this shift in responsibilities, possibly because it felt it did not effect the core business of designing. It was the start of a growing trend for others to take roles that had been originally been provided by the architect.”

“Fast forward two and a half decades and the role of architects, designers, project managers, and principal contractors in the process of delivering projects, continues to develop and change. The services that used to be considered the core business of delivering good architecture is becoming more and more effected by changes to responsibilities and the creation of new roles.  Today the procurement of projects has become more and more accelerated with clients seeing the need to get the contractor involved in the process sooner rather than later to get projects started quicker but also to share the risks for the delivery of the project.  Today, most medium and large projects are tendered earlier and earlier in the design process to get contractors engaged on site and involved in the completion of designs.”

“Another reason (and possibly more relevant,) for this shift, in the dynamic of architectural offices, is that contractors and clients realise the value of experienced professionals, like senior architects, and want them to help, the client or contractor, streamline the procurement and construction processes and reduce risks.  They call this role design manager.”

At Quadric was have always participated and contributed to the design process, irrespective of our ‘official’ role in the project.  We feel that this new shift, whatever has the caused the trend, to be one that the industry at large can successfully adapt and evolve positively with.  We feel that those industry relationships that have been forged over the last 35 years will continue to strengthen as we say hello to the Design Manager.  Whilst some may say “goodbye Architect, hello Design Manager”, we say “welcome all”.