SUPERMODELS: Exfoliation and Re-Generation

Event: SUPERMODELS: Exfoliation Re-Generation
Location: Center for Architecture, 12.06.07
Speakers: Chris Beardsley & Dennis Vermeulen, Assoc. AIA — Flank Architecture; Charlie Kaplan — Peter L. Gluck & Partners, Architects; Adam Meshberg — Meshberg Group
Moderator: Anne Guiney — New York Editor, The Architect’s Newspaper
Organizer: AIANY New Practices Committee
Sponsors: Exhibition Underwriters: Associated Fabrication; Hafele; SKYY90; Patrons: 3Form; ABC Imaging; Sponsors: Severud Associates; Thornton-Tomasetti; OS Fabrication & Design; The Conran Shop; Supporters: Arup; bartcoLighting; Fountainhead Construction; FXFowle Architects; MG & Company; Microsol Resources; Structural Enterprises; Friends: Barefoot Wines; Cosentini Associates; DEGW; Delta Faucet Company; Perkins Eastman; Media Partner: The Architect’s Newspaper

Meshberg Group

Firms that see a project through from design to construction claim to have a greater sense of satisfaction from a job.

Courtesy Meshberg Group

A holistic approach to building will save us from the threats of a tumbling economy, some firms believe. Flank Architecture, Peter L. Gluck & Partners, Architects, and the Meshberg Group have all set up business models incorporating a range of specialties including design, construction, management, development, and even real estate brokerage. For these firms, seeing a building through from sketch to construction is rewarding artistically as well as monetarily.

By doing construction, engineering, and design, Adam Meshberg of the Meshberg Group is satisfied knowing a building belongs fully to his firm. Charlie Kaplan, of Peter L. Gluck & Partners, Architects, agrees and is proud that this allows a team to “get their hands dirty.” Once a team finishes design work, it goes on-site to complete construction. Flank Architecture builds three-dimensional models simultaneous to financial frameworks so there is a mutual understanding of both realism and aspiration for a building, according to Chris Beardsley. As a result, the firm’s success has led to larger projects, he believes.

Another result of developing design and finances concurrently is that clients understand their costs. Meshberg enjoys clients’ reactions when presenting a project. His firm not only exhibits seductive designs, but it also provides real estimates, which is reassuring to many of his clients. Kaplan sees this as an added business benefit; the skepticism architects often face is replaced by optimism when numbers are revealed to a client.

One might think liability would go up for these firms that straddle so many fields; however, that is not the case. Kaplan posits that by being in control of a project from start to finish there is less of a chance for something to go wrong. If a problem arises, adds Dennis Vermeulen, Assoc. AIA, of Flank Architecture, the client knows whom to call, instead of hiring a lawyer to figure out which entity is responsible for the error.

With the future of the economy in question, every firm is trying to prepare for a potential downfall. The answer for Beardsley is maintaining a diverse practice. Construction management has a longer lifespan than design, adds Meshberg as an example. By being involved with so many aspects of building, the ebbs and flows of work are staggered. Ultimately, success hinges on good design and skillful construction. Says Kaplan, “If you provide a good product, you’ll always have work.”