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ing in miscellaneous service instead of in miscellaneous merchandise.

The matter of architectural design is a ])rofession in itself. A knowledge
of the theory of design and the experience necessary to apply this knowl-


fdge to the solution of actual problems is as much as any one man can
master in the short span of a lifetime — and many of us do not proceed very
far along- this difficult road, at that. But the capable designer — the man
whose work can be used — must have a working knowledge of the character-
istics of materials. In addition, he is required to be familiar with color in
design, with ornament, etc. He must know the industrial arts in order that
he may select intelligently the lighting fixtures, the rugs, the furniture, the
hangings, etc., that will best compose with his own work.

But these academic matters are not the sum total of the architect's

If he succeeds, his organization must be able to obtain business. Some-
body must be a salesman, whether he resents being known as such or not.
If there is no salesman in the organization, the service of the organization
will not be marketed.

In the development of the working drawings and specifications the archi-
tect is assisted by men who, with the exception of a very few. are chosen
because their mental bias does not incline them towards architectural de-
sign, per se. These are the "job captains"' who must have executive ability
and must know how all kinds of materials used in building construction
are combined, in order that they may be intelligently indicated on the draw-
ings, and these are the men who must know all about qualities of materials,
sources of supply, etc., in order that they may include in the specifications
the information that may not be placed on drawings.

Then there is the engineering contribution, none of which has anything
whatever to do with considerations of architectural design. This work calls
for a ver}' high order of skill and intelligence, and let it be noted here that
the "big" engineers display in their work the same qualities of imagination
— the same creative instincts — that make for distinction in the work of the
"big" architects.

Then there are all the dealings with contractors. I understand that
there are some two hundred trades that, in one way or another, contribute
to the various classes of building construction for which the architect pre-
pares designs. To each one of these businesses a man will devote the study
of a lifetime and then only become versed in one phase of it. But the archi-
tect must have some familiarity with all of these things.

But a wide knowledge of the distribution of building materials and
liuilding products does not in itself give a man the ability to deal success-
fully with building contractors and the manufacturers of building products.
That is a matter of business and demands a knowledge of business relations.
It is an executive rather than a technical function.

The direction of the construction of a building "in the field" is not an
artistic matter, save for the passing upon carving, colors, textures, etc., and
this is done by most busy architects in the office — many of them, in fact,
never actually see the buildings that are erected at any considerable distance
from their offices. Capable superintendence is a thing in itself. A man mav
be a good job captain, may write a fine specification or may direct the busi-
ness details of a considerable operation and yet may not be able, for the
life of him. to tell whether a certain batch of concrete is or is not being
mixed properly.

The architect does considerable bookkeeping in connection with his
clients' accounts, with payments to contractors, with extras, credits, etc..
and if he is to keep things straight this work must be managed as carefully
as it is in any business office.

In matters of correspondence, adjusting contro\'ersies, making final
settlements, dealings with clients, etc., etc., the architect discharges a busi-


ness function that, in essence, is no wliit different frmn the business func-
tion of the despised contractor — except that the hitter pruljably does these
thinsjs much more intcllijiently and effectively.

There is no one man livintr and tliere never will l)c a man Ixirn who. of
Iiimself. can do all these thinsj^s. I do not believe that any architect ever
tried to persuade himself that he could do all of them. The trouble is that
he has been compelled to think of himself as a professional man doing' a
personal thing. The result is that he places an importance upon the jiarticu-
iar element of his service in which he has skill and considers everything
else as subordinate and immaterial.

If it is true that no living being could render with uniform skill all the
kinds of service that, together, make up the contribution of the architect, it
necessarily follows that the com]jlete service may only be ofifered by a
number of men working together, each one contributing an important and
necessary, but different, element.

Such a group must be made up of a business getter, a master of archi-
tectural design, a structural engineer, a mechanical engineer (heating.
ventilating, sanitation), an electrical engineer, a business administrator and
a technical director. .\n organization thus constituted is a business organi-
zation : by no stretch of the imagination could it be considered as a profes-
sional organization. 1 s])eak now of an organization in which each one of
the elements of the architect's service is given its proper relative weight and
is directed by a man who. in his particular thing, is as skilled as is "the archi-
tect."' That the architect may. and usually does, employ outside practition-
ers to supply to him the necessary engineering skill does not affect the main
argument which is that a projDerly balanced architectural organization must
be a business organization ; it cannot be a jjersonal and professional one.

The reason that the architect must surround himself with men of busi-
ness and executive ability is that the great bulk of his service to his client
and to the community is a business service: in fact, architectural design,
per se, is really the smallest element in the architect's service, although
most conspicuous.

That architectural design is the least weighty element in the architect's
service is proved by the number of architects in this country who build uo
large businesses without using it at all. These men do everything else that
the complete architectural organization should furnish and they succeed
because of the value to their clients of the things that they actually do

The man who is a luisiness getter, who has an efficient organization,
who handles his practice as a "business i)roposition," who administers the
work of construction ade(|uately, who is a ca])able buyer for his client and
who keeps measurably within his client's limit of cost will build up a large
and well-paying "practice" with the least possible expenditure of thought
on matters of academic design. .And such a man earns all of the c<Misider-
able sums he is paid because he "delivers" goods that have value.

On the other hand, a man may have great talent and may be highl}^
trained in matters of pure design and may — starve in a garret because he
has neither the necessary business cpialitics for success nor the sense t(j
connect with the right people.

-After all, it is success we all are aiming for. What good does it do a
man to have great talent if he is given no opportunities for exercising it?


And in architecture, above everything else, the opportunities for doing- big
and interesting things depend ahnost entirely upon "getting the lousiness."

The architect today who is trying to impress his client v.'ith the idea that
he. the architect, is engaged in personal and professional work is constantly
playing a heart-breaking game of bluff. Instead of telling the client frankly
that he is but one — though perhaps the principal — member of an organiza-
tion that is offering the client a \ery complete service, he must try to im-
press the client with the belief that he is the "whole thing." .So he keeps
his associates in the background, for to admit that their contribution was
as essential as his. would destroy the air of professionalism and of personal
service that a mistaken theory requires him to tr\- and maintain. So he
bluffs and bluff's, making wild guesses now and then, until finally he is
found out.

One cannot conceive of a man engaged in true professional w(jrk having
about him an organization such as is absolutely necessary to the architect
if the latter is to discharge fully his obligation to his client and to the com-
munity. Xo professional man would undertake to do a number of things
in most of which he had no skill. Such a professional man would be set
down immediately as a charlatan because he would be operating a busi-
ness under the guise of a profession.

Plenty of instances of similarity may be found between the organization
of the architect's ideal office and the organization of business institutions,
but none w-hatever can be discerned between the organization of such an
office and a professional establishment. The reason, to reiterate, is that the
architect's relation to society is tliat of a business man and not that of the

Consider the ideal office. It is organized somewhat after the manner of
a corporation engaged in. say, the manufacture of motor cars. There is
the business getting department (the advertising department), w'hich may
be the function of some one member, or of more than one member, of the
organization: there is the architectural designing department (which cor-
responds to the laboratory of the motive engineer! ; there is the engineering
department (which corresponds to the machine shop) : there is the superin-
tending department (which corresponds to the assembling shop) : there is
the business manager's department (which corresponds to the sales de-
partment ) and there is the executive department.

In the e.xecutive department the architect's organization resembles the
scheme of organization of the professional man. But. then, ex^ery activity
must have a head — a directing impulse — whether it is a doctor's office, an
architect's office, a motor factory or a (lovernmental establishment. Even
so, the architect's office may more closely resemble the motor factory than
the doctor's office. The latter must at least be his own executive while in
the architect's office the real "'boss" may be the "power behind the throne"
and not the titular head of the organization.

There is another point in which the architect's organization resembles a
business organization and not that of a professional man. One. or two. or
all, of the members of an architectural firm may die and the business be
continued under their name and without loss in so-called "professional"
standing. What would happen if. on the death of a physician, his office as-
sistant — himself a graduate physician — should calmly "succeed" to the dead
man's "business," continue to use the dead man's name and in the name of
the dead man write prescriptions? That is inconceivable in a profession,
because a profession is a personal thing: a professional practice cannot
leave behind it a "good-will" that can be traded in. But this is possible and

iiii-: \i<i II I ri-.i r wn i-.xci m:i',i; v.;

legitimate in a l)nsiiie>s. and that it is known and used in the "iirofession"
I'i arcliitectiire shows that nntwitiistandini,'' their claim to being "proles-
sional men," ardiitects du realize the ])urely business aspects nf their rela-
tion to alTairs.

Can anyone conceive of several physicians being known as "Dr. Smith
& Co." save as comi)ounders of nostrums? Can anyone imagine giving his
legal business to. say. "Brown, Jones, Robinson. Tompkins & Co.""' Did
anyone ever hear of a sym|)hony being composed by "I'.eetho\en. ilaxdn iK:
Company"? Vet such firm ap])ellations are fre(|uent in the co-calied archi-
tectural "])rofession." In fact, tiie head of the firm of D. 11. lUirnham & Co.
became president of the American Institute of Architects. Mr. lUiridiam.
by the way. had the right idea. He gathered about him men skilled eacii in
doing one of the many things recpiired of an architect, while he. him.-;eli.
did the one thing that he knew how to do best. Whether accurately or not,
he was (pioted as saying that he was a business ni:in who had some knowl-
edge of building.

The architect's ideal office, organized as I ha\e described, wiuild raise
the architectural standard in this country immeasurably. Tn such an office,
the department of architectural design would have its own recognized place
and matters jnirely architectural would be given due weight. The chief of
design would jirobably not be concerned with hustling for business, nor with
sj)ecification .vriting. nor with matters of business administration — all
things foreign to the designing "temperament." .All these things would be
looked after by men to whom that sort of work is congenial. Tiach man
would become highly skilled in his particular subject and the result achieved
for the client would be a fusing of the best skill and judgment of the several
dejKirtment heads. F.etter architecture would be possible for two reasons,
l-irst. the chief of design would be left free to develoj) matters of design to
the extent of his ability, and second, his authority as chief of design would
be respected because one of the elements in the reputation of the organiza-
tion would be the character of its output as architecture. .\11 of that would
be controlled solely according to the "policy" of the firganization. At tlie
inception of a i)roject. there would be a "cabinet" meeting at which each
department head would sec to it that th-e thing for which he was to become
personally resixmsiblc later was gi\-en its pro]ier share of consideration.
The result would be something that would represent to the client the best
judgment of several tr;iincd nu-n. In this \va\- the client would be iimtected
from having foisted on him things that wduld be horribly c.\pciisi\e to con-
struct, things that were not a<lai)te(i to his re(|uirements. things that wuild
inevitably cost more than his stated limit or things that merely exiiressed a
fit of indigestion on the i)art of the designer.

Such an organization would tjuickly put out of business the other tvi>e
of organization to which I have referred — the organization that is elTectivc
as a business unit but ])roduces work inferior architecturally. The ideal
organization would do as efifectively evervthing that the other kind of
organization is doing and in addition would produce good architecture be-
cause a reputation for excellence in design would be as much one of its
assets as good business administration is the sole asset of the other tyjie
of organization.

I'.ut it may be objected that this scheme of organization would impose
such a restraint ui)on the creative im])ulse of the designer as \irtually to
destroy all inspiration.

.Any designer wdio is able to work only when his fancy is given free rein
is an unsafe (jerson and should be restrained — in an asylum. Much of the


discredit -that has been brought upon the "profession" of architecture is due
lo the wild schemes of architects who will not consider the wishes of clients,
who ignore limitations of cost and who think they are not giving play to
their creative instincts unless they are doing something thoroughly irre-

A business organization that is engaged in rendering a highly articulated
service naturally forms itself into a corporation. In fact, this is required
by law of certain types of business organi.zations — banks and trust com-
panies, for instance.

The ideal organization for an architect should be a corporation. This
form tends to stability. Each head of a department is a stockholder and the
interests of the corporation are his interests also. Such an organization
tends to inspire confidence in the mind of the client.

.\n architect may. of course, gather around him men who work with him
congenially and who add to his contribution the things necessary to the
complete service to which the client is entitled. The minor employees, of
course, go and come, but when all the principals except the head hold posi-
tions that are subject to similar mutations there necessarily exists an ele-
ment of weakness in the organization. An organization in which the direct-
ing personnel changes frequently can never become well knit and effective.
It is only when the directing heads are part owners and have a sav in the
business policy and management — to the extent of their ability — and have,
also, a say in the important matter of hiring and firing that they become
wedded to the particular business and give it their best efforts.

These are the signs of the times. If the architects are to hold their own
they must understand that before everything else they must be effective
business men ; that their organizations must be founded upon business prin-
ciples ; that it does not suffice to produce fine "paper architecture" and to
ignore or subordinate all the other elements in the service to which the
client is justly entitled; that they must cease to worship the fetish of "pro-
fessionalism," and they must cease to pose as self-contained individuals
rendering an exclusive personal service.

The published statement that the clients are commencing to go to the
"others who build better, more efficiently and more economically under the
name of architectural and engineering contracting firms," may be true. That
these "others" have found a profitable field is because they are capable and
shrewd business men. .\nd because they are capable and shrewd, they will
fortify themselves against the criticisms and jealousy of the "legitimate"
architects b\' doing as good architectural work as the latter. For the
"others" may employ skilled designers merely by making the working sur-
roundings attractive and they will be smart enough to do that little thing.
And at that they will merely be doing what many architects are doing any-
way — except that they will not allow the tail to wag the dog. They realize
that it would hurt their business reputations to be classed as — architects.

The only way the architects can meet this new situation and save them-
selves is to change their point of view, reorganize as business institutions
and by building better, more economically and more efficiently try to meet
the growing competition of the "architectural and engineering contracting
firms" that already are taking work away from them.


Steel Ship Fabricated Like Tall Buildings

r.y l-KI-:i)KKl(K M. KERHV

RKt"I-l\"II.\' I talked with the father of the most important set of trip-
lets the \vi>rl'l has ever known. They were horn on the morning^ of
July 4. Their names are Alamosa, Alcona and Chetopa.

They are ffirls. and they have one older sister, who is onlv thirty-five
days older than ihcy. The older sister is named Agawana, and she was born
May 30. ]!y the end of 1''18 there will be 150 children in this family alone,
and there will be lumdreds of cousins.

The Alamosa, .Alcona and Chetopa are steel fabricated ships, and with
their older sister are the only four ships of their kind in the world. They
are the most sifjnificant of the Jiulls that took the water when the ""big
splash" came July 4.

Mr. Henry R. Sutphen is the man whose remarkable brain gave birth to the
idea of building ships like skyscrapers or bridges. .A vear ago last April he
presented the idea to (leneral Goethals of the Shipping Hoard, but it was
not until Sei^tember 14. 1917, that the first contract for these .ships was
awarded to the company of which he is vice-president, the Submarine P)oat

"It was not easy to convince tlie Shipj)ing Hoard that fabricated steel
ships were a possibility," said Mr. Sutphen. We sat in a room the windows
of which give a view of the complete sweep of twenty-eight shipvvavs. with
their towering shapes in every stage of ncar-compleiion, v,-ith the busv
fingers of enormous cranes incessantly moving back and forth picking and
gingerly placing the masses of steel that go to make up tlie ships, while
through the ojien windows with the breeze from Xewark P>av comes the in-
cessant "bu-r-r-rap !" of hundreds of riveters.

"The idea was new to shii)builders." Mr. Sutphen c')ntinued. "They could
not believe that it was possible to standardize and fabricate ships as we would
a bridge. But the thing sim])ly had to be done. The rolling mills producing
plate for ordinarx- shipbuilding operations were scarcely able to sup])ly the
steel necessary to meet the building needs for warships. But it seemed to us
that if it were possible to organize the steel mills producing structural shapes
so that fabrication and as.sembling could be done at the shipyard, then quan-
titj' production of ships would be possible.

"That is what we are doing. This that you see is not :i shi]iyard ; it is a
factory; we arc assembling material and putting it into place. Xinety-five
per cent of the work is done in the fifty-six steel plants located all through
the Middle Western States that proiluce the steel. We furnish the drawings
and specifications to those plants; thev turn out parts to ,irder, pro])crly num-
bered and lettered. We fit them together."

As I climbed over the endless jjiles of steel and up onto the scaffolding
around Xos. 3, 4 and 6, which soon will be the completed Alamosa, Alcona
and Chetoi)a, I realized what Mr. .Sutphen meant. Behind the row of twenty-eight
ways, each holding a ship, arc the yards p\\e(] high with the various shai)es
of steel. A spur track from the railroad nms down between each shipway.
A busy little donkey engine drawing a crane puffs up and down each s|)ur,
bringing forward as needed each piece of steel to fit in its place, while the
swarming army of riveters on the sides of each ship keep busy with (heir
eternal rivets.

I actually saw these shijjs grow up as 1 watched. I saw piece after piece
put in place and the sides rise almost by magic.

"The work of building this yard had to be done from the ground up,"
said Mr. Sutphen. "Last fall this was a marsh. You see what it is today —
buildings, shops, railroad tracks, cranes, everything — is 90 per cent com-


pleted ; in another month the last lick will be struck, and then we will devote
ourselves wholly to the joh of getting our 150 ships. Working at capacity,
we expect to be able to launch a ship every three working days."

Small Concrete Garages

INSTEAD of being built of permanent fireproof materials, most garages in
the past have been constructed of impermanent and thoroughly combustible
ones — ^built to increase fire risk rather than reduce it. says a booklet on small
concrete garages, published by the Portland Clement Association. Some day
insurance companies and fire protection associations may be able to influence
legislation that will solve the garage problem from the standpoint of com-
I^elling that all structures where automobiles are housed shall be built of fire-
jjroof materials.

Concrete may be applied in garage construction in several wavs — mono-
lithic, concrete block, stuccu on metal lath supported by metal frame, to sav
nothing of concrete tile and concrete brick. Yet the full advantages of con-
crete from the standpoint of fire-safe construction are not realized unless the
material is used to build the entire structure. When built two stories high so
that living quarters are provided for a chautTeur and his family, fire-safe
garage construction implies that the fioor of the second story should be of

There is a jjeculiar combination of merit and adaptability in concrete.
Structures built of it are not only firejiroof but have been built in man\- places
for the same price as less durable construction would have cost. Where
there have been occasional exceptions to this, the slight additional first cost
has soon been ofl'set by the saving in maintenance and insurance.

Everywhere increasing preference is being shown for concrete construc-
tion, not only in cities but in the rural districts. The farnier builds concrete
dairj' barns, concrete silos, concrete feeding floors, concrete tanks and troughs

Online LibraryGreensboro CollegeThe Architect & engineer of California and the Pacific Coast (Volume v.54-55 (July-Dec. 1918)) → online text (page 34 of 75)