How many architects does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

According to Coffee with an Architect blog, the answer is "21".
Louis Poulsen “artichoke” luminaire.
One to sketch out the concept;

One to model it in Revit;

One to question the concept… “Does it have to screw?”;

One to write an addendum informing the contractors;

One to find the spec section and ASTM standards for screwability;

One to fill out the LEED paperwork for said lightbulb;

One to suggest a “stainless steel” lightbulb;

One to suggest a skylight instead of the lightbulb;

One to research alternate methods of screwing on the internet (Don’t google that while in the office);

One to suggest having a charette to brainstorm ideas about screwing in lightbulbs;

One (intern) to build a chipboard model of the lghtbulb;

One to suggest recessing the lightbulb;

One to issue addendum # 35 to have the contractor reverse the swing on the door in the room so the light switch for the lightbulb can be relocated to the other wall;

One to ask the design principal in charge to call the client to let them know we’re screwed;

One to call the structural engineer to see if the beam running through the lightbulb can be moved;

One to render the space showing a Louis Poulsen “artichoke” lamp instead of the lightbulb;

One to ask: “what the lightbulb wants to be?”;

One to discuss Le Corbusier’s use of lightbulbs throughout Villa Savoye;

One to google “Snohetta / lightbulbs”;

One to remove the boundary between the interior and the exterior of the lightbulb;

     And finally;

One turn off the light while muttering “less is more…”
The answer above was written by an architect.  Otherwise, the answer might have been:
"None". The architect depends on a contractor to realize the design intent.
The site also sells tee shirts. Here is my favorite:

Construction Chart Book, 5th Ed.

The Construction Chart Book: The US Construction Industry and Its Workers 5th Edition, (2013), a free download, is a valuable resource for building product executives. Published by The Center for Construction Research and Training*, it is a trove of information about construction industry employment demographics and trends. While most useful, perhaps, for economists, insurance companies, safety officers, and policy makers, it contains nuggets that can help you digest new product opportunities and paths to market.

Consider the following from the Main Findings of the report, with my comments:

About 80% of construction payroll establishments had 1 to 9 employees.
You surely don't have time to send sales reps to these small firms, so your marketing communication or distributors better find a way to reach them.

About 12% of construction firms used day laborers; 22% of employer firms had no full-time employees on their payroll, and 8% hired temporary workers through temporary agencies.
With a transient work force, you better support your customer by offering products that are simple to use and hard to screw up, and training programs that can be given quickly on the job site.

Construction employment is expected to grow by 1.84 million wage-and-salary jobs, or 33%, between 2010 and 2020, more than double the 14% growth rate projected for the overall economy.
Where will all those new employees come from? Beyond normal efforts to build brand awareness among newcomers to the industry, manufacturers should also consider ways to recruit the new work force by training them and creating networks to connect trained installers to potential employers among your customer base. I wonder, however, what effect robotics and construction automation will have on this trend; perhaps not much within 5 years... but after that?

About 2 million construction workers in 2010 were born in foreign countries.
What can you do to transfer brand loyalty across borders?

More than 75% of Hispanic construction workers were born outside the United States.
Your product labels, installation instructions, advertising, and field representatives may need to be bilingual.

Between 1985 and 2010, the average age of construction workers jumped from 36.0 to 41.5 years old.
At some point, the trend will reverse. Are you able to communicate with digital natives?

Union members in construction have advantages in educational attainment, wage and fringe benefits, training, and longer employment tenures, compared with non-union workers.

Look for opportunities to partner with unions for training, etc.

The number of fatal injuries in construction dropped to 802 in 2010 from the peak of 1,297 in 2006. The decrease in recent years was mainly due to the decline in construction employment during the economic downturn.
In other words, fatalities haven't significantly decreased. Everyone in our industry has a moral obligation to improve safety.  How can your product, its packaging, the tools required to install it, etc, create a safer workplace? Make the contractor's chief safety officer your ally.

In 2010, overexertion in lifting caused 38% of the work-related musculoskeletal disorders among construction workers.
Lighter weight material? Improved packaging? Simplified lifting and installation procedures? These are important product enhancements.

* Published by CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training, produced with support from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health grant number OH009762.

Finishing the Architect's Design

In my work for a building product manufacturer, it is a daily struggle to figure out a designer's intent and to create a solution that actually works.  The following, from an essay by Sheldon Wolfe, FCSI CCS, underscores this observation:
It is clear, however, that the countless products and the special knowledge they require make it impossible for a design firm to understand the construction part of architecture. Architecture schools do not teach much about building materials, structure, or systems, and they largely ignore construction methods, scheduling, and costs. Many have decried this lack of attention to the nuts-and-bolts part of architecture, but perhaps it now is simply impossible to teach all the things an architect would need to know to perform in the same way they did a hundred years ago, even with the intern development program.

Contractors, on the other hand, do know about construction, and that's what they're paid to know. Once merely workers hired to follow the direction of architects, contractors no longer rely on the architect to explain what has to be done. Instead, they now are expected to interpret the architect's documents and to determine for themselves what must be done to construct the building. They may know little about planning or design, but once construction begins, their practical experience, as opposed to the theoretical experience of the architect, becomes more valuable to the owner, and they are seen by owners as more realistic, more knowledgeable, even more important than the architect.

Good Humor

A good joke can lubricate even the toughest situation.

To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

A pastor, a doctor and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers. The engineer fumed, "What's with these guys? We must have been waiting for 15 minutes!" The doctor chimed in, "I don't know, but I've never seen such ineptitude! The pastor said, "Hey, here comes the greenskeeper. Let's have a word with him." "Hi George. Say, what's with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?" The greenskeeper replied, "Oh, yes, that's a group of blind firefighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime." The group was silent for a moment. The pastor said, "That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight." The doctor said, "Good idea. And I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist buddy and see if there's anything he can do for them." The engineer said, "Why can't these guys play at night?"

There was an engineer who had an exceptional gift for fixing all things mechanical. After serving his company loyally for over 30 years, he happily retired. Several years later the company contacted him regarding a seemingly impossible problem they were having with one of their multimillion dollar machines. They had tried everything and everyone else to get the machine to work but to no avail. In desperation, they called on the retired engineer who had solved so many of their problems in the past. The engineer reluctantly took the challenge.

He spent a day studying the huge machine. At the end of the day, he marked a small "x" in chalk on a particular component of the machine and stated, "This is where your problem is". The part was replaced and the machine worked perfectly again. The company received a bill for $50,000 from the engineer for his service. They demanded an itemized accounting of his charges.

The engineer responded briefly:
One chalk mark $1
Knowing where to put it $49,999

It was paid in full and the engineer retired again in peace.

A Department of Transportation maintenance crew packed up the truck early one morning and drove out to a construction site where they were to work that day. The crew started to unload the gear when one of the workers noticed that they had forgotten the shovels. Panicked, the crew chief called back to the crew supervisor. "We forgot the shovels back at the shop, boss. What are we gonna do?" The supervisor thought a minute and said "stay calm, just lean against each other until we get someone out there with the shovels."

An engineer died and was instantly transported to pearly gates. Saint Peter met the engineer at the gates of Heaven. Peter looked through his records to see if the engineer was listed in "the book" of souls that should go to heaven. Peter looked once, furrowed his brow, looked again and finally said, "I'm sorry, but your name is not on the list. Usually engineers are a cinch to get in to Heaven but since your name is not on the list you'll have to go .... below." The engineer was, of course, disappointed but he took the elevator down to Hell.

A couple weeks later Peter called down to Satan in Hell. "Hello, Satan?" "Yeah, its me, Peter. Whatayawant?" "It is about that engineer I sent down a couple weeks ago." Satan answered, "Oh yeah, that guy was a real find. He's great. He has gotten a heat exchanger working so that it is now a nice comfortable 68 degrees, he has piped in cool running water, he has got a ventilation system going to get rid of that sulfur smell. He made this place into a paradise."

There was silence on the line for a moment and then Peter said "well, we made a mistake. He belongs up here. There was a record keeping glitch but I want you to send him up right away." "No way are we giving this guy up," said Satan, "he is the best thing that ever happened to us down here." Peter responded, "Well that is just too bad, he belongs up here and that is that." Satan, unmoved, said "no can do, Padre -- he is staying here." Peter, exasperated, said "well, if you don't send him up right away, we are going to sue."

The line was quiet for a moment when Satan sneered "where are YOU going to find a lawyer?"

Why Engineers Don't Write Recipe Books
Chocolate Chip Cookies:
1.) 532.35 cm3 gluten
2.) 4.9 cm3 NaHCO3
3.) 4.9 cm3 refined halite
4.) 236.6 cm3 partially hydrogenated tallow triglyceride
5.) 177.45 cm3 crystalline C12H22O11
6.) 177.45 cm3 unrefined C12H22O11
7.) 4.9 cm3 methyl ether of protocatechuic aldehyde
8.) Two calcium carbonate-encapsulated avian albumen-coated protein
9.) 473.2 cm3 theobroma cacao
10.) 236.6 cm3 de-encapsulated legume meats (sieve size #10)

To a 2-L jacketed round reactor vessel (reactor #1) with an overall heat transfer coefficient of about 100 Btu/F-ft2-hr, add ingredients one, two and three with constant agitation. In a second 2-L reactor vessel with a radial flow impeller operating at 100 rpm, add ingredients four, five, six, and seven until the mixture is homogenous. To reactor #2, add ingredient eight, followed by three equal volumes of the homogenous mixture in reactor #1. Additionally, add ingredient nine and ten slowly, with constant agitation. Care must be taken at this point in the reaction to control any temperature rise that may be the result of an exothermic reaction. Using a screw extrude attached to a #4 nodulizer, place the mixture piece-meal on a 316SS sheet (300 x 600 mm). Heat in a 460K oven for a period of time that is in agreement with Frank Johnston's first order rate expression (see JACOS, 21, 55), or until golden brown. Once the reaction is complete, place the sheet on a 25C heat-transfer table, allowing the product to come to equilibrium.

Five Surgeons
Five surgeons were taking a coffee break and were discussing their work. The first said, "I think accountants are the easiest to operate on. You open them up and everything inside is numbered." The second said, "I think librarians are the easiest to operate on. You open them up and everything inside is in alphabetical order." The Third said, "I like to operate on electricians. You open them up and everything inside is color-coded." The fourth one said, "I like to operate on lawyers. They're heartless, spineless, gutless, and their heads and their butts are interchangeable." Fifth surgeon said, "I like Engineers...they always understand when you have a few parts left over at the end..."

The Balloonist
A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a man below. He descended a bit more and shouted, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him half an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man below replied, "You are in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet about the ground. You are between 42 and 44 degrees north latitude and between 83 and 85 degrees west longitude."

"You must be an engineer," said the balloonist.

"I am," replied the man, "but how did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost."

The man below responded, "You must be a manager."

"I am," replied the balloonist, "how did you know?"

"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you are going. You made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. The fact is you are exactly in the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it's my fault."

One morning a contractor called an architectural firm and asked to speak to an architect regarding a particular project.

The receptionist, with a voice full of regret, said, "I'm sorry, sir, but the architect recently died a slow, agonizing death out on a project site." The contractor stated his condolences and hung up.

About an hour later the same contractor called back and asked to speak to an architect regarding the same project. Again, the receptionist gave the contractor the bad news: "I'm sorry, sir, but the architect recently died a slow, agonizing death out on a project site." As before, the contractor mumbled his regrets and hung up.

This pattern repeated itself each hour throughout the morning, until, at last, the receptionist recognized the contractor's voice, whereupon she said to him, "Sir, why do you keep calling here when you know I'm going to say the architect has recently died a slow, agonizing death out on a project site?"

The contractor, exploding with long-suppressed maniacal laughter, gasped, "Because I love to hear you say it!" 

Subcontractors and Design-Build

Our associate, Bill Kneeland, PE, emailed me recently, pointing out that subcontractors play a vital role in selecting building products for Design-Build projects:
Lately I have been schooling (consulting) subcontractors on the requirements necessary to Bid Design-Build (D-B) projects.
D-B projects represent a growing opportunity for companies that have sufficient experience to prepare D-B bid documents, providing they understand the correct process of how to protect the bid dollar amount. Too often, the conditions and assumptions contained in bids are incomplete, causing subcontractors to revise their original bid dollar amount upwards. This creates unfavorable issues with the GC, CM, or A/E.
One interesting aspect of schooling my subcontractor subjects has to do with selling the benefits of manufactured products that offer the project:
  1. Improved material/systems/equipment vs. the more generally used and accepted products.
  2. Energy efficiency.
  3. Return on investment and life cycle cost attributes.
  4. Quicker construction schedule.
  5. Project cost reduction.
  6. Code compliance.
  7. Other value.
GCs and CMs are becoming construction brokers and subcontractors are much more knowledgeable about product/material/manufacturer selection. Therefore, as the D-B project enters the formative design stage, it is the subcontractor that brings to the table a high degree of knowledge, respect and credibility with regard to product/material/manufacturer selection. This often leads to the selection and approval of the subcontractor's recommendation by the A/E.
Expanding the subcontractor's value to the project in depressed economic times is of value to all.
Bill Kneeland, PE is a construction cost estimator. He collaborates with Chusid Associates to prepare construction cost analyses to determine the competitiveness of new building products, and to provide insight into product constructability and enhancements. He can be contacted through Chusid Associates.