During RAMSA session three, the focus point of the presentation was teaching students and listeners about conceptual design, final design and the construction process. Along with these three main topics the speaker Mr. Michael McGrattan (photo to the right) also explained how to conduct yourself while surveying construction sites. While presenting, Mr. McGrattan used one of his current projects, which is located on 150 East 78th Street and is in the process of being built, as an example of the building process and as an example of what a construction site looks like along with how to act while on site.
Many students attended the RAMSA program and had different perspectives and opinions of session three, and below, three students gave their written perspectives. Each student focused on the three main points of conceptual design and the sub-categories that fall under these points.
Point of View #1-Gilver Bueno
WHSAD’s Makerspace recently had the privilege of meeting Robert AM Stern architects, also known as RAMSA, Duy Vo, and Michael McGrattan. Mr. McGrattan began the presentation with a project they are currently working on 150 East 78th St, talking about the process behind the building’s creation. They showed building renderings as well as sketches and the beginning stages of the building and its conception. They presented a new idea to some known as an RFI or request for information. This new idea for me, which is common among professional architects, is the calling for information or further explanation behind a thought or idea on a project. This can amount from which materials are used to which way those materials face. This prevents confusion for the construction process as well as creates chemistry between architects for the best building possible. An extension of this part of architecture is a requested sketch, a drawing of specific parts of a design if said design is modified or if further information may be needed.
Soon after Mr. McGrattan described the sketch and beginning process is described, he continued the presentation with samples. These are examples of materials being used and are a part of the product management. Other parts are mock ups, or pieces of the project that are built on a smaller scale to match what the building will look like. Some mock-ups even go as far as to present how the piece of the building is intended to perform. These can include windows spread with water for 12 hours to represent weather conditions or other materials a building may use.
Another important topic which stood out was preparing for site visits. This is something in which several Makerspace participants have taken part, so it was an engaging topic to take in, especially from professionals. Some of the things to include on a site visit are some way to take notes or bring up drawings, protective gear, and measuring tape. Having a camera is also important for taking progress photos and site analysis photos. Once on site, checking in with the contractor and walking through the site are major aspects. Another characteristic of a site visit is discussing issues and ways to go about fixing them as one sees the issues in person.
Closing off their presentation, RAMSA presented a video of their project and parts of what Mr. McGrattan discussed throughout the presentation, such as work site visits. This video gave a small visual as to what was discussed throughout the presentation in a very simple and creative way. RAMSA allowed insight into how the professionals do what Makerspace is doing right now. This meeting served as a major inspiration for our own projects.
Point of View #2- Written by: Matthew Zaczeniuk
RAMSA session 3 was very informative and insightful. In this session the mentors described their processes of working with clients and developing projects alongside them, which in many cases is easier said than done. Being an architecture firm, it is imperative that while collaborating on a project, the firm stays true to the client’s original idea while also making sure that the project is functional and can provide the intended use. During this process, architects go through many steps and can come across many challenges, big and small, while developing the project, and while some challenges can be overcome, some challenges need work arounds to come to fruition. The general meaning of this session was for kids to better understand the process of working with clients and what happens during the development, as well as the challenges that come up with development and planning. There are many challenges that arise when trying to create something.
During the session, the mentors also talked about their work flow and some of the methods and computer software that they use when planning a building or structure. The most important steps when creating a structure are conceptual design, final design, and then the construction process. This whole procedure can take up to 2 to 3 years depending on the project and the scale of it. While planning a project in the conceptual design stage, it is important to understand what you are working with, so knowing what the space that’s being used looks like and knowing the potential problems that can arise from the site are very important factors that must get implemented into the design. It is also important to understand exactly what the client is asking for, so talking with the client and creating a detailed plan is extremely important because this can greatly affect the final outcome of the project.
RFIs are also a very important element in the design process. RFIs are short for “Requests for Information” and these can be from anybody, including the client themselves or contractors that are responsible for construction, in which they are able to ask about anything pertaining to the project. During this step of development it is also important to get product data for planning purposes. Product data consists of anything to do with the hardware equipment that will eventually be installed in the building or structure. This includes anything from door sizes to window dimensions. This information is important because the architecture firm needs to know exactly what resources are available to be used in the project and if something is not available, what can they negotiate with the client and provider to make the project work. RAMSA mentors also stated that they use Revit, the 3D modeling program that’s also taught in our school, to create renderings and 3D models of the building that they are creating to present to the client and hear feedback from them. They also create physical mock ups of the project to visualize what the building could look like and what changes need to be made if any parameters are off.
And this is only a part of the story. Development of a structure takes an incredible amount of time and can take enormous amounts of patience. Architectes also understand that they never have the final say in a project, the contractors do because they are paying for the job which subsequently means the client has the last decision. Sometimes it’s hard to develop a building when budget constraints come into play or other factors that stop the design from being able to be constructed. Understanding that it can be frustrating at times when planning a project is important in the steps that guide architects to create buildings, and knowing what is the most effective way to get around a challenge is an important aspect of architecture. Because architectes aren’t just designers and visualizers, they also need to be great problem solvers in their line of work.
Point of View #3- Written by: Kevin Garcia
On the third day of RAMSA’s Pre-Mentorship Program Michael McGrattan gave WHSAD students a virtual tour and discussion of architects’ tasks durning on a construction site visit. During this presentation Mr. McGrattan discussed who monitors construction sites, the different equipment they use to monitor the sites, the process it takes to get a building designed, and the different people we may see in the site. During this session that really struck me, Micheal spoke about the importance in maintaining a healthy relationship with the contractor, constructers, and designers.
Mr. McGrattan spoke on how throughout the construction phase, the architect serves as the representative, an advisor and consultant to the contractor. During the architect’s visits to the job site, they become generally familiar with the work through site visits, reporting observed defects and deficiencies in the work, keeping the contractor informed about the progress and quality of the portions of the complete work, determining in general if the work, when fully completed, will be in accordance with the contract documents and then the minor things such as reviewing submittals, payment certifications, and project closeout.
Micheal discussed how keeping the lines of communication open after construction allows the architects and designers to learn how the clients operate within the new spaces, so they have the opportunity to implement new designs on future projects to help designs function more efficiently. It also gives them a sense of personal attention, which is typically a factor in word of mouth recommendation. He described how architects feel knowing that they played a small part in someone else’s success is satisfying and enjoyable to see. A client puts a lot on the line, both emotionally and financially, when opening a business. They often put their life savings into their projects and turn their new business into their family’s livelihood and an opportunity to have a future and these people from engineers to the builders of the site have an opportunity to have a part in it. To maintain a healthy relationship, he recommends that people simply be kind and be courteous and have a sense of urgency about helping your clients. When helping clients, find solutions and be successful is the best possible way to maintain a strong relationship.