We are all designers

The fields of construction, architecture, and engineering are merging. There are many factors that affect building design, and modern engineering challenges the way traditional design is segmented.


Photo by Daniel McCullough on UnsplashMany people recognize great design as something that’s stunning and incredibly visual. We think of it as something tangible, apparent or obvious. Take for example the bold architectural moves on the façade of a new patient tower. It is evident to everyone that the design is nice, however, there is so much more beneath the surface. Concepts, models, calculations and explorations made along the way ultimately feed into that final result. At CannonDesign, we practice using design throughout the process, instead of just reserving the word to describe a well-constructed project. We should celebrate the small details of our work; the talented teams and disciplines that weave together to collectively create something powerful. We believe design can be an agent of change, a way to create advancements and solutions in our world.

Oftentimes engineers are thought of as naysayers in the eyes of architects – I believe we are a lot more alike than we may realize. We are increasingly seeing the fields of construction merge with engineering, and engineering with architecture, not only in how we structure a project team or build a design-firm, but also in the situations in which we find ourselves. As engineers battle with the boundaries of physics, architects balance design intent with space programing, while construction teams grapple with time and money. We all must balance the conceptual goals of a project with our discipline responsibilities.

With that said, there is no single prototype for a designer; no out of the box, ready-made intellectual genetically created for this line of work. There can’t be. Design requires skills that span multiple career tracks and specialties; to stretch the imagination and think beyond the everyday, while realizing restrictions and limiting factors. For example, an architect needs a multi-story clear atrium in a building; the ceiling should be free of devices, systems and structure non-existent. The engineers will use design in every way possible to work towards this goal – from developing a structural concept for the entire building, to lighting concepts that promote daylight-rich environments, to MEP systems that use innovative techniques to move water, air and light throughout the space. Both engineers and architects need to wear the hat of the designer to create something that is both beautiful and functional.

Engineering Week is here, offering a time for us to celebrate past successes and brainstorm on upcoming projects. To realize there are many factors that affect the way we change or create spaces. That there are expectations and limitations, but also victories in balancing the pendulum between design intent and discipline responsibility. To keep each other looped in (and early) for input and direction, and to enjoy the concepts, the imagery and the imagination behind our projects. This week provides a chance for us all to reaffirm our pledge to great design. To work together in the same space, pushing aspirational ideas forward while understanding the boundaries of reality. Because in the end, whether we are engineers, architects or contractors – we are all designers.

Owen Dalton is Junior Associate IALD at CannonDesign. This article originally appeared on CannonDesign. CannonDesign is a CFE Media content partner. 

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