For specialized architectural services, get an architect

August 25, 2020 | By: Arch. Benjamin K. Panganiban, Jr. (as published in The Manila Times last August 25, 2020))

TO most people I have met and got acquainted with, I have gotten to educate them on what architects really do and the differences their work entails compared to other professionals, especially engineers. For one, architecture by profession in its academic curriculum is actually an art and at the same time a science, while the rest of the technical professions all deal with sciences.

Art has an aesthetic part of its academic curriculum incorporating form, mass, proportion, color, visual rendition, relationships with the functions and the elements; and creating the physical and internal outlook among others aesthetically. Architecture deals with the stability and the scientific building technology systems, including the mode and material compositions that go into a vertical structure, including its analysis of building construction framework.

Today, I would like to expound more that architects do not just draw beautifully. They also design AND construct structures that house mankind. To further emphasize, not only do architects construct or engage in design AND build services, they also have other services to offer, which we call Specialized Architectural Services.

Due to the fast-paced modern technology and trends in construction and building systems, there was a need to complete and supplement the necessary work of the architect for the totality of the project. In 2004, after the enactment of the Architects Law in the Philippines, the Standards of Professional Practice on Specialized Architectural Services was incorporated in the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 9266. The architect’s responsibility to society was to make sure that both the buildings and its physical environment enhanced the lives of people by strictly adhering to national and international standards with regards to health, safety and welfare.

These specialized architectural services deal with a specific expertise for further enhancement of the architectural exterior and interior components of a project. Such specialized services the architects do are Architectural Interiors, Architectural Lighting and Design; Acoustic Design, Site Planning and Development; Site and Physical Planning; Master Development Planning, Subdivision Planning and Urban Design; Comprehensive and Development Planning; Historic and Cultural Heritage Conservation and Planning; Security Evaluation and Planning, Building Systems Design, Facilities Maintenance Support, Building Testing and Commissioning; Building Environmental Certification, Forensic Architecture, Building Appraisal, Structural Conceptualization, Preliminary Design Services, Contract Documentation and Review; Post-Construction, Construction Management, Dispute Avoidance Resolution, Architectural Research Methods, Special Building/Facility Planning and Design; Building Components, and Management of Architectural Practices.

Considering the specialized services architects perform, it is surprising that a lot of people in society do not recognize such works architects do. It may be that society is unaware of these specialized architectural works since some of these services are offered in the Philippines. In fact, one of the specialized architectural services that has been performed by architects is that of the Construction Management Services. The architects in big projects manage the construction because of their academic qualifications and best interpretations of vertical constructions and the appreciation of the finer details; not to mention the complexities of the utilities, structural conceptualization and building components that architects orchestrate and understand between the designers of the buildings and the construction team. In fact, it is in construction management that the architect’s specialty is now gaining more recognition.

Another specialized architectural service that has long been and will always be the domain of the architects is that of Historic and Cultural Heritage Conservation and Planning. It has always been recognized that the architects have the management and academic qualifications to manage and understand the importance of the history, culture and building technology of the past, as well as the preservation, conservation and restoration of such significant structures or monuments that give importance to the culture of a locality. It is here that the professional that manages this direction is always associated to the architect.

One specialized architectural field society needs to be educated and made aware is forensic architecture. This field needs to be appreciated by the populace as this field of specialized service is meant to revive and inculcate in the minds of society, especially for building owners and developers, that architects focus in ways that the building or structure can best maintain itself and even prolong its life in a cost-efficient manner for the best interest of the building owners.

In my travels abroad, I have come into close contact with architects who help building owners and even the governments analyze the deterioration of their buildings, its deficiencies and non-compliance of its usage, their research on possible faulty use and operations, and recommendations on how to retrofit buildings for future use. That is why you see the preservation of heritage structures and even their re-invented use for other purposes, whether as commercial establishments or offices, government institutions, tourist centers or just plain residential houses or complexes. I was even startled and elated to see a Starbucks outlet in one of the old buildings in an Asian country with this outlet respecting the cultural and traditional presentation of the building complex using only its logo and their name as its most identifying mark and not altering any of the original design of the structure. That speaks well of respecting the design of the building.

Another specialized architectural service is Structural Conceptualization. The consulting architects in this area conceives, chooses and develops the type, disposition, arrangement and the proportioning of the structural elements of an architectural work, giving due consideration to safety, cost-efficiency, functionality and aesthetics. It is in the best interest of the architects to review and recommend the sizing of the structural elements of a structure if the design may interfere with the functional flow and even the aesthetic views on a building whether exterior or interior.

In succeeding issues, I will dwell on other services of the architects to best appreciate, understand and be aware of what architects really do for society and to have a better understanding on the importance architects contribute to the populace.

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