Should Architects take responsibility of a PM?
An article by Miguel Ángel Álvarez
The emphasis on design and building techniques, received during the architect’s career in the universities, make a mentality both creative and mathematical which is a magnificent base for being a good Project Manager (PM). Architectural projects are a combination of creation and order, the famous dialogue between form and function. The knowledge obtained in such a way is very important in managing a project as PM.
Introducing techniques of controlling time, costs, risks, communication, integration, etc. is the perfect addition to the creative and technical preparation achieved during the years of the architectural career. From another point of view, the PM should not be considered as a person damaging the architecture of a project, but rather should be for helping it. If the architects do not embrace the truth that 'architecture is not only a matter of beauty, and that the success in architecture can only be achieved helping the client for doing a good business in terms of quality, cost and time; they will disappear from the market as a profession very soon'. Thus, we must accept that a good PM is a support for architects to produce better buildings which is also what architects want to do. The role of the PM is very close to our intentions. So why not exercise it by ourselves?
I have known many students in my post-graduate classes of PM in the Madrid School of Architecture who have begun to study the techniques with a hesitation in their minds about whether this was something suitable for an architect. At the end of the Masters course, all of them came to me and said that project management is so important that it should be included as one of the specialties of the official graduate studies of architecture the way it is already done in some schools of USA, Britain and other countries.
I think that the paradigm of the construction business is changing a lot with the economic crisis. Architects of my age were accustomed to working in a solitaire way, we were in our studios doing what we have been prepared for: Designing projects and giving direction for consequent works. In a few years time, a new collaborative way of working will succeed. The turnkey projects are increasing. The clients do not want to fight any more separately with architects, engineers, project managers, administrations, builders, etc. A complete integrated service is demanded in which architects can indeed play an important role, not only as a designer but also as a project manager.
So, I strongly recommend that a good preparation in Project Management is a profitable inversion for all the architects especially for the younger ones. A combination of both these dynamic professions will offer a much higher quality of buildings and the client’s satisfaction.