Big Project Workflow

May 5, 2022

Thinking about workflow this week, project scale, perhaps, but also style and decision making. We’re partnering with another local firm, and I know how they work, I know what they expect on deadline day. But our team had to learn, and I had to teach them, and I didn't like doing it.  Trying to tell myself and our people that we’re learning how to do work that is bigger than one firm.  In truth, I want most for us both to learn that this isn't how we want to work.  It’s heavy, it's fast, it's a long play, and there’s no room for error.

With "no room for error,” at first you think the challenge is that you won’t know the answers. But that’s not it, you might not know when you start, but three details in, and you get the picture.  And then, the challenge is the persistence, finding every instance of the same detail, in every permutation, and drawing it again and again. You pick up the pace as the deadline approaches, and then you stop when you/they/everyone uploads the set to wherever it's going. Maybe the permit office, maybe the Owner who wants to tell you what to do again, who wants to tell you what you didn't finish when the deadline bell rang.  Maybe you're just sending it to the GC to give you a price. And, the more details you drew, the better the price will be, and that’s the game.  And if you didn't do enough, well, the owner will yell, and the contractor will back out, and you'll play catchup for the rest of the job.

That’s not good enough, that’s not the goal of our work. That’s not workflow, that’s not collaborative design.  Even if we say this is just the final phase, this is the road home, it’s not good enough to draw for months if you already know the answer.  Design is discovery, revelation, and always creating something new.