The Need for Quality Control in Architectural Projects // Kyle Holtz
Last week, we reviewed our completed work thus far with Prof. Dowell, who brought to our attention the idea of Quality Control. According to Dictionary.com, Quality Control is a system for verifying and maintaining a desired level of quality in an existing product or service by careful planning, use of proper equipment, continued inspection, and corrective action as required. Recently, issues have been raised by our client, Asian American for Equality/Hardesty Renaissance about whether or not the tabletops will last or will split. The client has been looking for some type of assurance that the mobile office will be completed without mistake and will be a lasting image of the company. Quality Control is the key to assuring the client that its project will be built with the specified materials will meet its standards.
Our studio has begun to implement quality control by introducing a Quality Control Manager (QCM), who will oversee the work being done. Since the studio is set up as a Design-Build firm, in conjunction with El Dorado Architects, we have control over all areas of design and fabrication. This control will help us eliminate mistakes since all areas will focus on pursuing design excellence. The QCM’s goal is to look for human mistakes that can be fixed such as poor welds, wrong species of wood, and safety concerns that apply to the user. Construction documents and other areas of the design process would also benefit from a quality control manager that provides feedback and reviews the work. Constant peer review is one of the keys to better quality control. The need to prevent potential quality problems is of the upmost importance. Yet some of our own quality problems in construction have dealt with inadequate equipment, supplies, and facilities and not human error. To continually improve our quality, we must seriously note these problems and try to find the best way to eradicate them.
Quality management is best achieved when all members are thoroughly invested in the project and see their own part of the design as a piece of the whole picture. My piece of the puzzle is assuring the construction documents are meeting these standards. Quality Control should be an everyday practice and when this happens less mistakes will happen. One thing that I noticed to be the best tool for Quality Control is to ask questions. When you are not sure of something or when you assume that it is correct, mistakes can be made. One of my goals is to make sure that the drawings match with what is being built. To assure this occurs, I am in constant dialogue with the construction teams.
In professional practice, Quality Control seems to be focused on the red-lining process which involves having a licensed architect oversee the work that the interns are doing. Yet, sometimes an overseer is not knowledgeable about the most up-to-date programs such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) and has difficulty in connecting with these programs. Recent architectural graduates come out of the school with the knowledge of the newest software, but at times may lack experience on how buildings are built. Many problems professionally arise from these two issues. The better-rounded the individuals are in the firm, the fewer problems will arise. That is why continual growth for individuals is so important. For maximum quality, overseeing of the work is crucial to eliminate human error, but it is also important to realize that knowledge of building materials is necessary to operate the newest computer program correctly.
In conclusion, Quality Control is the foundation to assure the client that the project as built will satisfy its specifications. In the Design+Make Studio, the focus on Quality Control instills in us that our services are continually meeting the goal of design excellence. The goal is for continual improvement throughout the whole process and eliminating mistakes. As long as we are doing that, quality will be assured.
Written by Kyle Holtz