Keys to successful collaboration on construction projects for Architects and Civil Engineers

Keys to successful collaboration on construction projects for Architects and Civil Engineers
Photo: Natee Meepian, Bigstock

Development projects are complicated ventures and they require the expertise of many different professionals in order to be completed. The key to accomplishing this is the collaboration between everyone who participates. Nowhere is the collaboration more important than between the architects and the civil engineers working on a project.

A civil engineer is focused on the structure of a design and making sure that the structure will hold even in unusual or dire circumstances, while the architect works on the aesthetics of the property and its functionality. The two are closely linked, but separate.

History of the collaboration

The collaboration between civil engineers and architects can be dated to the 1930s when large projects created a need for different experts to divide the work while making it fit together. The importance of such relationships then became more than a necessity and scholarly works on the subject started to appear and illuminate the matter further.

After World War II, big construction projects such as the Sydney Opera House further proved how central the civil engineers are to the project, since their care for the environmental impact of the building made it possible for the design to shine through.

The collaboration that was forged in this manner has withstood the changes in style and the philosophy of architecture because it’s based on the principles that are larger than both. The holistic approach to design can be applied to every type of project and every era because it values everyone who works on the building.

It’s also important to have in mind that the familiarity with the construction process and the materials that are being used makes for a better product overall. This is best accomplished by civil engineers and architects working together.

Challenges of the collaboration and modern trends

The broad principles of the collaboration between the two need to be established right away in order for everyone to feel appreciated on the job and to provide their best work. The communication is key for this and it needs to be organized in a planned manner instead of relying on the personalities of the team to click.

A modern architectural project is a multi-disciplinary event and a lot of the participants aren’t coming from an engineering background at all. In fact, project participants who deal with quantity surveying services, like construction scope and cost management, contracts and overall project administration are also essential to the process.

The role of management in organizing a modern construction project mostly focuses on having a clear line of communication between everyone involved. A project manager can be a dominating figure in this regard, but it’s also a good idea to set up regular workshop meetings in which everyone will contribute openly.

Information management already relies on the technology for the most part and this is going to expand in the years to come. Sharing documents between the civil engineering team and architects can make the process faster and better organized.

Overcoming stereotypes and improving collaboration

There are a few stereotypes about architects that have been running around for centuries now and those are sometimes making modern collaboration with the engineers more difficult. For instance, it’s often thought that architects are builders. Even when they are familiar with the materials, the building part is often best left to others more suited to the task.

Also, many believe that architects are loners and artists that don’t work well with others and need to be managed on the project. This isn’t a great starting point for a lucrative cooperation.

The most important part of a successful collaboration between architects and construction engineers is to have a common plan of what the project should be and how each member of the team can contribute to it. This means that having face to face meetings can mean a lot in creating such a plan.

These meetings should go beyond just talking about a particular issue or a problem you need to solve. Instead, a broad conversation that shows everyone involved where everyone stands can help when dealing with the particulars as well.

Architects and engineers need to work together and combine their talents in order to make the most out of a project.