Julia Hess -- SEATTLE.
On July 13th, members of the SZ design team gathered to help build one of the projects on the boards, an addition/remodel in the Leschi neighborhood of Seattle, for their first of many SZ Blitz Builds. As a design-build team, this new tradition of having a monthly all-hands on deck day gives a chance for overall team-building.
Alfonso Gusman, the Construction Foreman at SZ Build, completely ran the show for the Blitz Build. He managed the delegation of tasks, prepped the site, and made sure it was a productive day for both teams. Shakiba Ahmadi, Architectural Intern, thought that, "It was great how everyone had responsibilities and stuck to them."
Alfonso isn't shy to being the boss of the day; he usually works with subcontractors on site. But with the design team on hand, he was also teaching everyone how to use certain tools and how things get sequenced or put together. Everyone agreed that Alfonso was an excellent hands-on leader and instructor. To this comment, Alfonso responded, "I think we make a great team."
This Blitz Build day gave the designers a window into the build side, and gave them much more exposure to the complexities of getting a project off the ground and physically built. A simple line on paper translates into a whole other layer of complexity for the build side, so seeing the way that their designs come to life helps them be better architects and designers. Shannon Carver, Development Coordinator, was excited to help for Blitz Build. "It was fun to just be on site, moving wood and concrete, and I definitely had the most fun with the nail gun," she laughed.
Being part of the physical construction aspect allows the design team to know the heaviness of the material and the tools involved with putting it together, and makes them more sensitive to those angles as well. "I was very impressed by how hard everyone worked even if they hadn't done the work before," Lara Tedrow, Designer & Job Captain, shared regarding her experience working with the team.
There are definitely times when design and build teams can be at odds; designs can often be too ambitious for the intended budget and the physical construction itself. This can lead to a bit of tension, but it also inspires problem-solving. "In my experience, there's not enough recognition for guys who do the construction," Ed Bom, Construction Manager, said. "People in management often aren't as aware of the reality of construction. Being part of this day keeps us honest in terms of the scope of work, and puts us all on an equal playing field."
Suzanne, who has the luxury of being at the interface of both the design and construction worlds, acknowledges that she needs to make a concerted effort to have the teams more intentionally interact wtih each other's efforts.
"Bringing us together on our job sites not only lessens occasional team tension, but it also gives greater sympathy to the challenges of construction and encourages more respect on both sides," Suzanne shared. "Having regularly-scheduled Blitz Build days is a continued way to respectfully move forward as one team with hands-on collaboration." The hope is that the two teams no longer think "I draw this and you build that," and instead think, "I understand how you build that, so I will draw it more in tune with how you build. "
Through this team-building experience, Suzanne sees a true dialogue beginning to form between the construction and design process, and the two teams feel even more integrated than before. In addition to regular build days, they've expanded their design charettes, where the build team can contribute their practical knowledge to the design team early on, providing insight on how to streamline the design for cost, feasability, and ease of construction.
After the Blitz Build day, the team stopped by a cookout at the Osborne site of Stazione25, where they were educated on a very different type of build project. The Osborne site is going to be a multi-family housing complex, and the design team had the chance to learn even more about construction on a much bigger scale than a single-family home. The outcome for the whole day was to enrich the team with the first-hand knowledge of how materials move through a site and are assembled.
As an added bonus, the children and a few friends of the ownership group also got to join in on the fun along with the SZ team. Everyone learned about site excavation, shoring, tie-backs, foundations, and what goes into erecting and load testing large cranes, gaining exposure to the means and methods of large-scale construction. Check out the live progress on this project here!