Who is an Architect?
By definition, an architect is a person who designs structures and supervises their construction. But do you think that’s all? Well, that’s definitely not how I would define an Architect. Creator, Problem solver, Collaborator, Designer, Listener, Leader, Planner, Builder, Draughtsman, Manager, Multi-Tasker, are among the few words I would use to describe an architect in the current evolved environments. An ideal architect is also someone who influences people by his imagination and creativity.
So what do you think, how does a typical day in the professional life of an Architect, unwind?
According to most, it would probably be, coming to the office, making a few sketches, assigning work to his subordinates, leaving everything on their shoulders may be then attend the clients and then depart office peacefully for home or to some site, right? But let me tell you, that this is a ‘BIG misconception’. Let me take you through the routine of a day in my life, as Architect Milind Pai.
All my days without a doubt begin early, indolence is not an option. Morning is the most vital part of my day, as morning is the only time I can focus on my physical fitness and peacefully spend with family over the breakfast table because there is no upper limit to wrapping up my day. Unless I’ve assigned myself to a meeting that is early due to client preferences. In today’s world, professionals have to balance fitness and personal life along with work. Aligning my complete day’s agenda is also a part of my morning routine, a big thanks to modern technology here which makes life easier. For instance, exchanging texts with office WhatsApp groups, checking on daily staff reports to understand their plan of action for the day, and errands like these just via texts, while I have my morning coffee with the newspaper, sitting on the couch. This process keeps me and my team well-informed about the activities going on in the studio as well as the routines of my team on the sites to kick-start the day.
Living in a reckless city like Mumbai, the office praxis begins on the point of a needle at 9:30 am, commencing with a daily Huddle meeting (especially for the design team). All official communications, important mails, texts and other important matters are generally discussed in the morning itself so that the office is ready to roll based on the set agendas. By and large I prefer morning meetings with prospective clients for any discussions so that they can subsequently utilize the rest of the day for other matters, which I will talk about ahead.
Generally, there are no fixed lunch breaks and the late ones are definite for our clique! Food is just grabbing a quick bite and rushing towards the next meeting or task which is planned in advance, because, prioritizing work and clients is a true architects’ motto! This occurs majority of the time but not every day! But a word of caution to all.. Do not disturb your meal routines by more than an hour as these tend to have a long term effect on your health over a longer period of your life. Also I try to grab some food before long late evening meetings as that keeps me going very energetically throughout.
According to me, being an architect is like being a high profile salesman, who sells ‘Dreams to satisfy Clients’! Let me explain how… Tapping the clients’ dream home desires and requirements down to reality, in a suitably given not-so-dreamy real life budget; finishing that job with a content, happy & satisfied client, doesn’t sound like an easy mission, does it? An architect has to do a lot of home, market, site and office visits with the clients, which can be at any time throughout the project, a typical routine is not something an architect can have because our work is such that our presence is essential when called for, or it might hinder the work and timelines. Personally I prefer to visit the site in the later hours of the day, often to see how a project is making headway.
Coming to the most challenging part of the day which is the ‘Site Visit’! This is factually the toughest part of the day which squeezes our entire energy. One has to take a deep breath, prepare himself and plunge into the battlefield, tackling the clients’ scrutinizing, contractors picking on our brains and doubts of the helpless labourers. Just about everybody is waiting for our arrival, for redressing of their grievances. Explaining to executors some unique things to apply on sites is a daily task. Sometimes there are also agencies like MEP, Structural Consultants and the contractors who always challenge the comfort zones in an architect’s life. Being an architect, is my job to tackle the problems they face piece by piece. One has to negotiate hard to turn his pipe dream into reality! Especially, when clients are annoyed with budget overshoot and time consumption, we need to be persistent and focused on what needs to be done next, to get desirable results by both ends. One thing I have learnt over the period of time is that to get best results on these visits, it is better to plan them well in advance with a perfect agenda based timelines instead of making them on fixed intervals randomly. This way I can actually cut down on the number of visits required due to efficient planning in advance.
Advancing further, the day usually goes ahead with checking and corrections in the design details with my team. The discrepancies lead to an impromptu team meeting, where architects have to screech and make sure that entire team is on the same page as him and set on track for the next days to follow. Addressing to the team, gearing them up to grow and be better at their tasks with time, is more of being like a leader and motivator, than their boss.
The office day then usually ends with sending emails, end-of-day report texts, sending completed drawings for further execution and corrections when required, calls with manufacturers and vendors to place new orders, calling for quotations and requesting new samples, when required for. Once that is done, it’s time to recap on the day, take care of any accounting or administrative work, and planning for tomorrow. That’s how the day concludes! Sounds extensive and tiresome, doesn’t it? Although architects do not see the world in terms of the hardest thing they do. They see it in terms of design and creating solutions for their clients.
In spite of all this, it is only because of the deep passion we share for architecture and design, that architects are never satisfied and the work is never ‘done’. They are constantly considering new ideas, listening out for design news, looking for the best pieces or designing their own, whether or not they are in the office!
Yes, Weekends are for the family, strictly, and Golf and Friends included.
Architecture and Design is out of those fields which is constantly developing and innovating, and it’s our responsibility to turn our passion into fantastic results for clients and ultimately for our projects, where we put in our heart and soul.