Working in the field is crucial for architects
Getting out on a job site and working in the field is essential for anyone involved with buildings. As architects, we spend a lot of time thinking about and drawing representations of physical buildings, but for me, nothing can surpass the physical experience of working on a job site. Back in high school and college I worked on framing crews and at a design-build firm (an offshoot of the great design-build school in Vermont called Yestermorrow), but it’s been quite a few years since.
There is nothing more honest than laying out and framing spaces from your own plans! It reminds you to think through how someone in the field would lay out the spaces. What do they need for reference points? Which overall dimensions do they need? Do your dimensions add up to pre-existing site conditions? Working in a 3D virtual model does help bring up issues before they get to the field, however, ultimately the physical “building blocks” (metal & wood studs or block) are used to create the spaces. These materials have their limitations and standard dimensions that need to be taken into account - especially in very tight spaces where every square inch counts.
Another big advantage is design intent. Having someone on the job site who has intimately been involved with the design over the last year can help move through any pesky existing conditions that need to be resolved in a more timely manner.
This field experience has been great for me, particularly since it's my own house. Plus, it's a great reminder of what information and details our builders need on site so that they can produce our vision -- both correctly and efficiently.