Architects should follow the lead of many contractors and implement firmwide quality management programs. A quality program should establish construction document standards and include internal third-party plan reviews to verify the coordination of consultants’ drawings and ensure constructibility.

That is the advice of Jeanette Shaw, the director of quality and sustainability for Powers Brown Architecture. “We should educate the client to pay for a quality program, which would improve construction documents,” said Shaw, at the American Institute of Architects Conference on Architecture 2019, which drew some 16,000 registrants to Las Vegas June 6-8. Then, when contractors say drawings are half-baked, “we can reply, ‘It’s in the specs,’ ” she added, during a session on quality.

A successful quality program must have a director and be integrated into a firm’s business plan. Consistent implementation and enforcement are necessary. Training and mentoring newer staff, and internal document reviews from design development forward also are important.

“If the project manager doesn’t have time [to check drawings], at least my team does,” says Shaw. “We review our QA/QC comments with the whole project team.”

The elephant in the room, said one session attendee, is that there is not enough fee for quality control. Shaw’s recommendation: Convince the client to add a fee for QC by arguing that the expense will pay for itself by reducing requests for information, change orders, claims and risk while increasing construction quality.

Also at the convention, the AIA announced an initiative to prevent granting honors or awards to architects who engage in harassment or discrimination. AIA hired lawyer Covington & Burling LLP to recommend a process for vetting candidates. Eric Holder Jr., a C&B partner and a former U.S. Attorney General, is heading up the effort, which will include a survey of best practices elsewhere. Recommendations to the AIA board of directors are expected in two to three months.

“We have not been pure and have not scrutinized behavior in the past,” said Robert Ivy, AIA’s CEO. “But this is not about the past, it’s about the future.”

Frances Halsband, co-founder of Kliment Halsband Architects—and an ENR 2019 Newsmaker for her antiharassment and antidiscrimination resolution last year that led to changes in AIA’s code of ethics—applauds AIA’s action. “AIA has been moving forward at a slow and steady pace on issues of equity,” said Halsband, who was recently elected to the executive committee of the AIA College of Fellows. “I am particularly excited … about the comprehensive review.”

By Nadine M. Post in Las Vegas