Making clarifies ideas. Clear ideas enable decisions. Decisions move projects forward! At the AIA Conference on Architecture 2022 in Chicago, Parke MacDowell, AIA spoke about the role of in-house fabrication in our design process.
The session advocated for embedding fabrication within architectural practice to enhance design, control risk and add value. Models, prototypes and full-scale mock-ups help all parties understand the design problem and have a voice in its resolution. Attendees were introduced to successful in-house fabrication approaches across firms of different sizes and specialties, with an emphasis on the curriculum and culture that support these initiatives.
There is often a disconnect between an architect’s design intent and the way these ideas are understood by owners and builders. Especially with large client groups, architectural drawings can be difficult for all parties to quickly understand. This leads to inefficiency in the design process and key client voices may not feel empowered to contribute to the process. A scaled model or mockup frequently provides a more accessible means of communication, helping all parties understand the problem and have a voice in its resolution. Similarly, a builder who may be reluctant to attempt a new construction detail or material approach could be engaged by a physical mockup which facilitates productive discussion. As an architect, having the capacity to build these artifacts in-house enables effective communication and collaborative decision-making early in the design processes.
The sold-out presentation was followed by a lively discussion and laid the groundwork for ongoing conversations with industry peers as well as allies in architectural education.