Coastal architecture project management poses challenges, presents opportunities amidst evolving industry
By Paul Benton
As noted in previous columns, coastal architecture poses a host of challenges; and as modern technology and industry regulations become ever more complicated, so too does the approach to architecture project management. When developing along California’s stunning yet environmentally sensitive and oftentimes controversial coastline, architects and contractors are required to cooperate with the state’s Coastal Commission – the result of which often creates a veritable project within a project. Therefore, it has become essential for architects to design a project twice: once for the Coastal Commission and the community standards, taking into account issues related to height, view access, parking and building area, and then again for the building codes, with a heightened focus on landscaping and irrigation, water conservation, disabled access, air conditioning and energy use. Finally, there are the conventional considerations involving structural support, fire safety, drainage and utility connections – all of which contribute to a complex web that can nevertheless pose surprising opportunities in the hands of a skilled architect and development professional.
When viewed as an opportunity as opposed to a roadblock, the necessity for dual project planning stages actually sets the stage for enhanced innovation and efficiency on the part of the architect. Despite the added elements involved in the design of each building, a two-stage process actually makes it easier to prioritize design and construction activities and significantly reduce the time required to complete a new home or commercial structure. An experienced architect will come to anticipate how one decision can create new pitfalls and demands, and to either determine a way around those hurdles or figure out how to overcome the problem without prompting additional setbacks.
Cooperation, coordination, and creativity: the keys to successful and efficient coastal development
One of the most important elements of the project management process comes at the point when the architect passes control of the project to the contractor – and the ideas inherent in the project design are translated into reality. At this juncture, even something as simple as the sequence and coordination of trade work can be extremely important to the ultimate efficiency and success of the project – and thus the architect’s skill in drawing up and organizing the steps of the project fall under intense scrutiny. It is critical that architects design not only for the unique site, but also to suit the needs of the owner and the specialties of the contractor in mind — and that they continue to follow-through all the way to construction. At the La Jolla architecture firm of Alcorn & Benton Architects, we take pride in our ability to anticipate the complexities of project regulations, permits and planning; and we work hard to optimize the smooth operation of each and every project we undertake, from the moment of design inception to completion. Coastal Commission regulations and contemporary building codes may seem daunting; but in the hands of a well-seasoned architect, they present a genuine opportunity for unprecedented excellence – and for a structure that will stand the test of time while carrying us into the future with hallmarks of sustainability, sound design and awareness and respect for our environment. To learn more or see examples of past projects, visit Alcorn & Benton Architects online: www.alcornbenton.com.
Paul Benton is a principal of Alcorn & Benton Architects, on Girard Avenue in La Jolla.
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