I just successfully passed the LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) exam. After days of my head swimming in tables and thresholds, statistics and calculations, it is gratifying to pass the test but a bit daunting to now be a part of yet another heavily bureaucratic process separating us from making buildings.
Increasingly as municipalities pass ever more stringent and complex codes and ordinances governing building, the job of the architect becomes further removed from the tasks of construction on the jobsite. Far from being the master-builder, the architect is the master-planner.
I feel like most of these new requirements, especially those encompassed by LEED, make for smarter, better buildings and certainly a better environment and future. Juggling the various possibilities and trade-offs of codes, requirements, ordinances, and community standards, the architect is responsible for a vastly increased range of issues. As architect’s fees have traditionally been tied directly or by association with the cost of construction, they are not reflective of the current range of responsibilities.
It has been probably our own egos that have pushed us to take control of all of these processes as well as the traditional role of designer and building expert. The egos of architects are for another discussion, but the ego of architects having been usually placed in the realm of design and aesthetics, that part of the task of the architect has become one of the least time-consuming parts of the project. I find myself jealously guarding the time spent on primarily aesthetic design, trying to ignore the growing and looming library of code books, city and county ordinances, and technical bulletins.