President's Message - November 2018: The Proper Care and Feeding of Architects

The Proper Care and Feeding of Architects

The architect has a hard job. The architect makes an incredible number of decisions in a short amount of time when designing a high-performance building. The architect digests diverse input from a large team of consultants. Performance targets such as the 2030 Challenge are just one of many considerations. Given this challenging environment, a project is much more likely to meet aggressive performance goals if the building-performance simulationist understands the proper care and feeding of the architect. 

The simulationist feeds information to the architect. Here are some common-sense guidelines I’ve picked up over the years. 

  • Feeding must be on a proper schedule, when there’s a hunger for it. Data is useless if it’s too late to satisfy the need. 
  • Proper portion size is critical. If there’s too much information, it cannot be consumed and is not utilized.
  • Data must be easily digestible. Remember that many architects eat with their eyes.
  • Quality is vital. Just the good stuff, no junk. 
  • No skipping meals. A high-performance design requires assertive care.  

It may be clear that proper care is not easy. I’m not yet very good at it. I often let my architects skip meals or feed them a table of numbers. I especially struggle at getting breakfast to the table on time. And I know I’m not the only one. As an industry, we still have some learning to do. 

Perhaps you attended the panel discussion at the recent BPAC/SimBuild conference called “What Architects Want from Building Performance Analysis”, organized by Andrew Corney of Sefaira. I missed it, but I was able to listen to it later online via the Virtual Conference. Here are a few of the things I heard from the five architects on the panel. They want clear graphics that can be presented to design principals. They want assertive participation and “black belt” level knowledge on subjects like benchmarking, process loads and efficiency measures. And, of course, they want the results tomorrow (with an acknowledgement that architects share responsibility for setting reasonable design schedules). 

Architect Billie Faircloth of KieranTimberlake Associates, a keynote speaker, told an interesting story of her firm’s exploration of the best way to engage with the energy modeler. Their approach evolved over the course of many projects to one that emphasizes early engagement and communication. 

IBPSA-USA is looking at ways to strengthen the architect/simulationist relationship. The Education Committee is planning to develop brown-bag presentation materials that IBSPA-USA members can use to show architects how we can work together. Project StaSIO is crowd-sourcing examples of graphics and simulation case studies. Other projects are being considered that would encourage the increased use of modeling during design. 

Please get in touch if you have further ideas or would like to get involved!


Erik Kolderup
Board of Directors, President, IBPSA-USA
[email protected]