PERFORMANCE of a DESIGN EMPLOYEE

Post 555  by Gautam Shah

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Design organizations need people of many different talents, but usually just for the duration of a project. Design organizations employ people with only requisite talent. Larger design organizations have some capacity to reassign and keep engaged the talent, but smaller organizations, go for ‘hire and fire’ policy. Design organizations, like other business entities, relate the performance of an employee to the profitability. For Design organizations human resources are very important assets, unlike in manufacturing units where productivity of machines and the raw material costs have greater significance.

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The employee perceives own performance in terms of compensation, personal fulfillment, future promotion and skill gain. When an employee has a chance to any of these, the person is well motivated. But an Employer sees performance as a tool for immediate profit to be gained at a specific cost. The organization, even after a person is employed continuously reassess the performance and relevance. The assessment relies on capacity of the individual to handle new roles with increased responsibilities. Performance can be conditioned as the enhanced capacity to deal with more complex or new problems, share of responsibility, greater authority, etc.

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image attribution >Sladen at en. wikipedia

During employment performance of a person is considered on many factors such as individual ability, personality traits, input effort, sincerity, perception of the role, motivating factors for seeking the current position, etc. An employee can be motivated for gain, comfort, increased learning, or even enhanced motivation.

Architects-office1

Θ Designers under the age of 30, have few positive operants in their favour, like: highest mobility -capacity to settle at any geographical location, work under the most difficult of conditions, and highest learning abilities. These qualities are very appreciated by employers, and so desire to hire people either as a complete fresher or less than 30 years of age (i.e. with 5/6 years of experience).

Θ A person before the age of 35 must gain the varied experiences and find the best employment in a larger organization, look for a participatory role in mid or smaller size organization. Alternatively this is the right time to plan own professional practice (self employment).

Θ Design professionals, by the age of 35 years begin to mature with sufficient work experience, personal contacts, and specialized knowledge. But they also begin to have Negative operants like: reduced learning capability, lesser reorientation faculties, less motivation, less migration and reestablishment willingness.

Θ Design professionals have last opportunity, before the age of 45 years, for seeking fresh employment. It is now the last opportunity to convert all accumulated abstract gains of the past (experience, expertise, know-how) into promotion or other materialistic forms.

Θ The chances of re-employment taper of drastically beyond the age of 45 years. Only way a designer can hope to shift the position is by joining another organization as partner, senior associate, consultant or a free-lancer. Such opportunities are very few, and would demand persons with outstanding competence and capacity to contribute.

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The employer terminates the services of an employee when the person becomes irrelevant for a role for behavioural or technical reasons. Employees in spite of the experience are not able to cope up with emerging technologies, or are unable to reset with changed office work culture. Employees become lethargic with advancing age, show unacceptable social behaviour and resist shifting to a new location.

Performance is not any absolute index but a contextual evaluation. The circumstantial conditions are, the employer as a human being, ever-changing needs of the organization, work culture at the place of employment and the optional talents available. The other set of contextual conditions are, the employee’s age, learning capacity, chances of promotion and compensation and optional opportunities for re-employment.

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Wikipedia image by Creaviva

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DESIGN PROJECTS and CLIENTS

Post 538  by Gautam Shah

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Projects come to a Designer through many different channels. One of the simplest and obvious source is through a (user) Client. The client, in a very simplistic term is a person who pays for the design services. But a client may or may not be the person to own or use the entity to be delivered. Clients and Professional both need to have a right to initiate the relationship. The right to be a client, though fundamentally derives from the capacity to pay or compensate for the design creation services, it has many other facets. A person as a client must have:

1 investible resources or finance to execute a project; 2 a space or site as land or building for the project, 3 some form of experience; expertise or knowledge as to what the project is or know how to secure the same; 4 and an intense desire, aspiration, vision or motivation for the project.

Shop in the The Crystals in Las Vegas wikipedia image by Author Gryffindor

Clients must have a need for the design services. A project, which is fairly complex, requires some expert input, and must be handled by a professional. A client on own could have the qualifications or organizational backing to generate a design for the project, but may be circumstantially restrained to do so. Government officials and persons in charge of an organization as an employee must remain at ‘arms length where their positional neutrality can be questioned. Such clients must hire external or independent professionals.

flicker image by love2dreamfish

A client realizes the potential for a project when the assets such as land, building, money; and personal qualities like knowledge, expertise, experience; remain unexplored, or are not providing sufficient gains. In case of assets the financial adviser provides clues how to explore the situation. Personal qualities motivate a person to an activity to pursue. For the first set, the financial expert suggests the ways, and agency who can give a shape to it. For the second set, the person with knowledge, expertise, experience, will still need an agency to formulate the project. For both the cases the agency could be a project consultant or a designer. Financial advisers and project consultants are the largest referring agencies for designers. Next lot of design assignments arrive from designers of other branches of design. An architect would need services of structural, interior or landscape designer. An interior designer would have to depend on an architect, structural or landscape designer.

wikipedia image by Author Derzsi Elekes Andor

To initiate a project, a professional requires some prime information or mandatory data. The clients’ potential for a project, reflects in the nature of data, available to generate a design. Providing prime information or mandatory data is both, a client’s duty and right. A professional must get basic data like the nature of ownership or rights of access to the site, site identity, design requirements, nature and sources of funds to implement the design. A professional can get such data from other sources, yet to check out the capacity and sincerity of a client, the design professional demands such information during the first meeting. A professional relationship is initiated with handing over data by the client, to a designer. Provision of data by a client, is a token of job commitment and retention of the professional’s services. Provision of data to a design professional is a clients’ right. A client may exercise that right to control the cost (by appointing own agencies) and accuracy of the data.

Non specific groups as clients > Wikipedia image by Author Jaimoen87

Small individual clients, casually begin to discuss their needs and dreams. A professional must accept such submissions formally by acknowledging it in writing. Organized clients, with complex projects bring in a brief or project programme. Non specific groups as clients, like a statutory body representing a mass of faceless clients, may have nothing more than the assignment title and appointment letter to offer at the start of a job. Virtually no data is offered. Projects postulated by other professionals, come with extremely detailed brief.

Projects postulated by other professionals, come with extremely detailed brief. >>> Wikipedia image by Author Smallworldsocial Permission (Reusing this file) http://www.smallworldsocial.com/press

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MANAGING FEES -for Building Design practices PART – IV

Post 511 by Gautam Shah

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Building Design firms often provide many different design services, such as Architecture, Interior Design, Structure, Interiors, Landscape, etc. And within these broad range of groups, the actual services may relate to New constructions, Renovations, Alterations, Extensions, valuation and project assessment, project feasibility reports, etc. The projects, when handled simultaneously rarely remain within the confines of well-documented definitions. Like some pre-emptive work for interior or landscape design will occur in the architectural scheme. And when the post building construction, other services are prematurely terminated, the ‘pre-emptive’ work will not get paid.

Serpentine BP Pedestrian Bridge by architect Frank Gehry’s Buckingham Wikipedia image by Author Torsodog

The Louvre Museum

These services occur in different schedules, and their scopes are based on very different criteria. Building design fees are chiefly collected on the basis of floor spread or footprint, except in few countries where it may be based on hours spent on it. The floor spread based varies with the type of project. Fees charged for Architectural projects include the construction cost (built-up coast) + some extra for site development design works. Similarly structural design fees are computed on the construction costs, but that may be a small part, in comparison to costs of site development works like land contouring, retaining walls and other support entities. Interior Design fees cannot always be calculated on the basis of carpet area, as lot of materials and objects are retained or reused.

Maggie’s Care Centre, Glasgow, Scotland Wikipedia – Flickr image by Author scarpadog (Jon-Marc Creaney)

In a group or associated practices the savings occur from the seamless handling of a project. This occurs when common entities are detailed or specified just once. Like for Landscape design site structures (pavings, curbs, retaining walls, water-body formations) are specified with architectural details. Electrical layout for architecture and Interior design is nearly identical.

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Das Haus der Deutschen Kunst in München.

Lomonosov_Moscow_State_University),_October_2010

Yet, in all these, the most important issue, vis a vis a client that comes through is, What should be, and How to determine the Cost of the job? The term Total Cost of Job nominally means to include all the costs of actually executing the designed job, similar costs of inputs from other design consultants or agencies, and the cost of all the peripheral work executed on the site through or by owners themselves or their agents, during the Currency period of the Design Services. The total Cost of Job will also include the estimated value of the work being preserved or maintained on the site.

interior-of-maintenance-shop Public Domain images by Hillebrand Steve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

At the start of a design project, the total cost of the job, is not available. As a result some notional figure is determined, to bill the first installment of fees or a lump-sum figure is used for first bill. This figure is determined on the basis of total cost of the job, but more importantly the intellectual rights of design formation. To determine the cost of a job, spread of the job or the built-up area is very useful. Structural engineers often base the fees on RCC (or structural) component of the project or a percentage of fees payable to the architect. Interior designers base their fees on Carpet area, but more surely on Interior Design intervention area, which is more rational or realistic. In spite of this in a group or associated practices it becomes difficult to derive a common fee’s formula.

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The Louvre Museum

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DESIGN DOCUMENTS and Liabilities – Part – I

Post 491  by Gautam Shah

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Design Documents consists of Views such as Plans, sections, elevations, Write-ups in the form of sheets, files or books, for explanations about things that cannot be adequately represented through views and for people who are not trained to interpret drawings (such government officials and law agencies), Structured Documents such as estimate sheets, reports, etc., and Enhanced Views such as isometrics, perspectives, walk-throughs to reinforce the perception of elements or their compositions which are generally not used as valid means of execution.

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Peter Behrens Tower building

Design Documents created in a design office have a well-defined purpose, specific exposure and so vulnerable to various levels of liabilities.

Design Documents are of Following types:

  • Personal
  • In-house
  • For clients’
  • For consultants’
  • For permissions – approvals by authorities
  • For presentations – publications
  • For job award or execution
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Manchester Town Hall Drawings

1 PERSONAL DOCUMENTS are created by the designer or scheme formulator. These are concept sketches drawn impressionistically and often like doodles or bubble diagrams. These are for designer’s personal references or reminders. Sketch or preliminary drawings are too small in size, not to exact scale, lacking in details, and do not carry all the graphical views to convey the intentions. These documents are not meant for anyone else, and are thin in content, or just indicative and abstract in nature. Similarly materials, components, procedures and design parameters which have not been fully conceived, or not crystallized into a formal structure, are all placed as notings. The sketches may not have any apparent order, and contain any trade, technique or material specific details. The orientation, scale, format, language, signs, metaphors, symbols, etc., are very much subjective and so illegible to others. This are very personal, un-interpretable or mis-interpretable documents. Yet these are ‘intellectual properties’ documents (copyright, patent, exclusivity).

2 IN-HOUSE DOCUMENTS are created to explore various aspects of the project. These documents always remain within the office and accessible to only authorized staff members. The composition is very casual as the contents are private and not binding to anyone. The contents can be altered at any time without any liability. Here options regarding materials, finishes, parts / subsystems, techniques, are explored. The methods of indication follow the traditions prevalent in the office, and as a result its format and language are very abbreviated. However, some sort of standard format is required, to create documents that are comparable and interpolating with other such documents within the organization. Such documents are never exposed to consultants, clients or anyone else. As whatever is shown or implied in the drawings may be construed to be a promise to deliver.

Grenfell_Tower,_London_in_2009

3 DOCUMENTS FOR CLIENTS are in the form of presentations. Clients’ are shown (and given) drawings and other documents at several stages of the project such as First for the approval of concept, then with intermediate improvisations, and finally for the execution worthy scheme. Besides these clients require presentation for marketing the spaces, which are being, created or altered. Few clients, however, understand all the technical drawings, but in case of a dispute every sketch, drawing or document will be reinterpreted by someone else (lawyer, arbitrator, judge, etc.) and that can create liabilities. The clients consider the design documents as Bench-Mark during the post project evaluation. Presentations should be simple and in non-mechanical form, as the essential purpose is to impress the client and solicit a required response. These documents may additionally convey broad policy of operational modalities and related structure for guarantees and warranties. The presentation format is open, allowing several options and possible interpretations. A client needs two basic things through the initial presentations: 1. A layout scheme that shows how the project relates to the site and 2. A sketch / view showing the form of the building, with reference to the surroundings. On later date presentations other details (materials, colour, textures, etc.) may be included. Clients’ presentations are for information and for initiating a debate. Whereas, a set of all drawings, submitted just before the invitation of bids, is a formal ‘transfer of records’.

FL Wright Heurtley House Lower Floor

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Next part of the article will cover remaining Design Documents such as >> 4 Documents for Consultants’ Assignment, 5 Documents for Permissions or Approvals, 6 Documents for Presentation and Publications, 7 Documents for Job Award or Execution.

And also Layout drawing, Working drawings, Detail drawings, Component drawings, Written details, Written details within the drawings, As a separate document but attached or referenced through the drawings, Memos and Short Messages to and from the site, Certificates for completion of a trade specific item, component, stages, payment of bills, etc.Santelia03.

MANAGING FEES -for Building Design practices PART – I

MANAGING FEES -for Building Design practices PART – I

Post 478  by Gautam Shah

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Stating design fees or charges to potential clients is a routine exercise, but one that needs lot of thought, and reconsideration or improvisation from one project to another.

The discussion here is based on presumption that the designer is practicing a ‘pure design’ or ‘design-only’ business, and not co-conducting build or supply work for the projects. In the later case the person or the organization may be liable for paying other taxes.

Interior of Phillips Exeter Academy Library, Exeter, New Hampshire (1965–72)

A person-organization operates as an Architect, Interior Designer or Landscape architect. In each of these case the basis and terms for fees are different. It is advisable to state fees separately for each aspect of practice, while clearly stating ‘what constitutes that project. This also follows that drawings, details etc. must remain distinct documents for each practice. Inclusion of following clauses is advisable >>

1These terms, conditions and fees are for the Architectural (or Interior Design or Landscape Architectural) Services only, and must not be clubbed with any other service or services that have been provided, or will be offered by us.

2The services are offered by me/us in our capacity as an Architectural Designer (Interior designer or Landscape architect, as may be relevant). As a professional designer we do not sell or supply any components, units, goods or materials, or provide on rent, hire or provide on any other basis: human resources, plants, tools, equipments, implements or gadgets. We also do not undertake any type of operations or servicing job. We do not provide any operational surety or performance guarantees or warranties for the items, systems, or schemes likely to be generated or formed through implicit or explicit design, suggestion, instructions drawn, described, specified in our design.”

Tokushima Castle Lordly Front Palace Garden in Tokushima, Tokushima prefecture, Japan

Fees’ details must be stated (submitted), discussed, or negotiated in one meeting, or through one statement-letter. A designer nominally provides professional design services and the Invoice will include charges only for this. Other costs for like extra copies, documentation, additional survey or report preparations, conveyance, must be billed separately. It is better to use external agencies that provide such services, and bill the client directly. These arrangements reduce many tax hassles.

Trevithick’s 1804 steam-powered railway locomotive full-scale replica National Waterfront Museum, Swansea.

Cost of a model, Sample, Prototype, Pilot, Animated walk-through or a Typical design (to be repeated number of times) is always problematic. Delivery of such an item at ‘actual making cost’ can deny the designer ‘the cost of concept’. Charges for such an item must be inseparable part of the main design fee. Which in other words mean, the main design fee may mention delivery of such an item, but details that can give impression of its exclusive cost may be avoided.

A professional like an Architect, Interior Designer or Landscape-architect is retained by the client-owner-organizer of the property, and not by the executing agencies like Vendors or Contractors. So discuss and insist on payment of professional fees directly by the client-owner-organizer of the property. A professional designer must declare that the charges discussed here are for One site, One project, Only for the service that is mentioned, and for One year currency of the project.

Architectural Fees are of several types

1 A fee on Lump-sum base, or a fixed amount irrespective of the cost of execution of the project.

2 A fee based on total cost of man-hours (and stationary, use of equipment, etc.) plus some Lump sum amount or a percentage amount for ‘other expenses’.

3 A fee based on the percentage of the cost of the project. This has the advantage that a percentage share goes up (or down) with project cost escalation. To avoid losses due to down scaling of the project and too much escalation for extraneous circumstances, an upper and lower tag is considered prudent, respectively, by the client and the professional.

Amadavad ni Gufa Ahmedabad India

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In next few articles of the series other aspects of Building Design Fees will be discussed, such as:

  • What is the scope of Project?
  • Meaning of Design services,
  • What is included in the total cost of a project?
  • Stages of Fees collection-payment,
  • What is requested Design?
  • What is an approved Design?
  • What is an executed Design?
  • Currency period of the Design Services?
  • Assumed cost of the job,
  • Estimated cost of the job
  • Actual cost of the job
  • Specific issues of Interior Design services.

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CHIEFS of DESIGN ORGANIZATIONS

CHIEFS of DESIGN ORGANIZATIONS

Post 441

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A Design organization is nominally owned and operated by a Designer or Group of Designers. This is often a requirement for professions covered by Government recognized councils (like Architecture) in some countries of the world. For most other design fields this may not be a requirement.

In design organizations convener of the entity is a ‘person of authority, such as a President or a chairperson and is the prime leader. A Design organization is launched and continued (taken over) by person/s who have one or several of these authorities: the ability to hire and so influence, motivates, and enables others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organizations. Three distinct authorities are identified, and a Design organization chiefs have these in various proportions.

Formal authority to lead an organization is acquired by the capacity to reimburse or compensate people who work for the organization.

Technical authority derives from superior knowledge, expertise, skill, experience, etc.

Personal authority is a function of Personality attributes such as: age, sex, race, bearing, determination, will power, appearance, charisma, height, weight, etc.

Conveners of design organization, who lack these features, try to make it up by other means. Formal authority can be procured by having a financier partner or associate, or an official appointment. Technical authority can be secured by hiring technically qualified associates or employees. Personal authority can be modified by having an indirect or remote mode of management.

Quality of leadership must vary according to the nature of work in the organization, but it is the quality of leadership that defines the work style of the organization. To achieve the first object, organizations separate out the domain of leadership for the functioning of the organization from the one required to handle a project. The second aspect requires the leader to be as versatile as the project demands.

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Bohemian Politicians US-France-India-India

Organizations that handle highly variable situations or non-repeating projects need a very Radical leader. On the other hand organizations with routine projects will function well under a Methodical leader. An Autocratic leader overrides the situational differences and imposes a preconceived style. The autocratic leader expects complete obedience. Such a leadership works well for projects that are critical in time, resources and extent. A Democratic leader would rather mould the situation, so that it can be handled within the ambience of the personal (leadership) qualities. Employees get full support, status and due recognition, and as a result show responsible behaviour and self-discipline. Democratic leaders are ideal for projects involving large user base. A Bohemian leader develops a style to suit the situation on hand, and are often very useful in tackling continuously variable situations. A Custodial leader has extra ordinary economic resources so makes employees dependent on the organization with security and benefits. The resulting performance is barely adequate.

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DISCHARGE of a CONTRACT

Post 322 – by Gautam Shah 

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‘Discharge of a contract is termination of contractual obligations, so that they become inoperative’.

At a very elementary level a contract could be matter of intensely felt mutual faith, which is not necessarily expressed orally or spelt in writing. A contract is, yet a very formal document, that must be credible and legal. It is often mandatory to be registered with an appropriate authority, in terms of its date of signing, and in few instances even the contents. All contracts once signed, and registered or not, cannot be cancelled.

Joséphine, first wife of Napoleon, obtained the civil dissolution of her marriage under the Napoleonic Code of 1804.

Advantages of legal contracts are many. A legal contract makes it easier for the parties to register the document, enforce the terms and conditions as specified within the contract document, add, delete or modify the terms of contract, continue the contract beyond the lifespan or terms of the signatories (after death of a party), solve the disputes and discharge the relationship.

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Contracts are promises that the law will enforce. The law provides remedies if a promise is breached or recognizes the performance of a promise as a duty.

Contracts arise when a duty is due, because of a promise was made by one of the parties. To be legally binding as a contract, a promise must be exchanged for adequate consideration. Adequate consideration is a benefit or detriment that a party receives. For example, promises that are purely gifts are not considered enforceable because for the personal satisfaction the grantor of the promise, ‘may receive’ is normally not a consideration.

Contracts are very formal and binding documents, which if once signed cannot be easily dissolved. Some contracts become void, after particular time set, others become useless once required actions are carried out, or considerations are given. Some contracts like marriage, and understandings like partnership, require execution of another contract or understanding to dissolve the original.

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A contract may be discharged (done away, dissolved) in any of the following ways:

  • Performance: Contracting parties fully discharge their obligations.
  • Agreement: Contracting parties with mutual consent, and as per the terms laid down in a contract, agree to cancel, reduce, or alter, the effects of a contract. Such agreements take into consideration consequences of such actions.
  • Law: On judgement over a dispute, or bankruptcy (insolvency) of either of the parties.
  • Circumstances: Due to change in legislation (of higher order), and declared war like conditions.
  • Lapse of time: Most contracts have arrangement for automatic time closure specifications.
  • Breach of a contract: Intentionally or unintentionally either of the party fail to fulfill the obligations as per the contract and takes recourse to law for enforcement of a contract or redress.

Samuel_D._Ehrhart_-_An_International_High_Noon_Divorce_(1906).