Building Designers better than Architects


Really??!! “Designers do much better than architects.” Do we really need to perpetuate the architects vs builders divide? So rude, and unnecessary.


14 thoughts on “Building Designers better than Architects

  1. It is really rude, and I wonder if it’s legal – I mean, you can’t advertise Pepsi by saying ‘it’s better than Coke’ right? It’s not like energizer vs duracell, where the claims are measurable. Perhaps it’s the customer testimonial thing that makes it ok.

  2. I think the institute or the board ( not sure whose jurisdiction it is) should emphatically fight back – Its too pointed to ignore, and do we really want to roll over and play dead yet again?


  3. Matt, the Institute and the Board should be fighting this kind of thing, but so should architects in general…wanna go halves in a billboard? I can give an awesome testimonal!

  4. In the past this would have really ‘got my goat’, but now-a-days provided no one is disparaging others – my position is to let the work speak for itself.

    I’m happy for designers to ‘blow their own trumpet’ and it would be better if they did so without critical comment of the architectural profession.

    My take on is that it is rather telling of their own insecurities if they feel they need to put Architects down to elevate their position.

    Recommend a polite and supportive response by AIA spelling out the virtues of our profession?

  5. This is such a subjective arguement though and impossible to prove wrong. In my 20 years of building i’ve seen some amazing architect designs but i’ve also seen some really poor ones too. The same goes for new home designers for builders. You can’t paint everyone with the same brush.

    • Definitely, that’s kind of my point. There is a reason Dale Alcock used the ‘A’ word instead of saying ‘we thought we had a good design when we approached …’ I’m not saying their design is any worse than an architects, in fact it could be better. But do they really have to stoop to ‘our designers are better than an architect’ in their advertising? Of course design (especially ‘good’ and ‘better’ design) is subjective, but this ad is not being subjective. I believe it is actually trying to paint architects with the one brush, which I think is wrong, and quite frankly sloppy advertising. It is perpetuating the us vs them culture and disallowing any chance of collaboration or sharing of achievement, as all building professionals have the ability to contribute to a bright future for our city’s built form, and none should be thought of as ‘better’ just because of their job title.

      • Are you sure you’re not perpetuating the them vs us culture by making such a big deal of this ad? It’s a testimonial – for all any of us know it’s true, and the architect has been attributed correctly.

        Wasn’t it Richard Weller in Boomtown 2050 who suggested that Dale Alcock was the most influential architect in Perth?

        Now THAT is provocative.

      • Perhaps you’re right, I am probably giving DA more publicity than they need. And the testimonial could be correct, I never denied that, I just thought it was professionally rudely worded. Apparently just my problem with any ad that has to say something is worse for them to be better.

      • OK, I know I should stop going on about this, but I just found

      • this article
      • on Google (you know how you look for something, and then click a link, and then another and then another, before you are completely off track!??) Anyway, it is entitled ‘Comparison between an architect, a project builder and a custom builder/designer’ and makes a few claims about the advantages and disadvantages of architects. Really??!! I am pretty sure on our company website we dont have any comparison to builders or buidling designers, listing their ‘disadvanatges’, and we certainly don’t need to market ourselves as being the one solution for every building / design purpose.

        The disadvantages listed are :
        •Many architects do not have a thorough understanding of current building costs and trends. If you have a strict budget, this can be a significant risk. It’s unnervingly common for people to receive initial tenders/quotes ‘way over budget’.
        •Architects are perhaps not the best building supervisors.
        •In our experience, savings derived by competitive tenders can often be outweighed by impractical design elements and numerous variations during construction.
        •The communication process during the building stage can often be a weak point.
        •Architects/designers may have less stake in the completion of the project. Their principal interest is the design, not the quality of the finish, the cost or completion time.
        •There is no incentive for the architect/designer to reduce the number of minor or major changes to the design prior to or during the construction stage. Cost increases and time delays are more likely to occur and can create problems between the owner, architect and builder.

        Careful there buddy. As an architect I take offence at quite a few of their claims about us a profession.
        “We don’t know about current building trends??” We have to, thats our job, and guess what if a job comes in over budget, it doesn’t happen, therefore we lose the project and don’t get paid any of the fees for documentation and admin. So it is in our interest that we make sure buildings can be completed on time and on budget.
        We are not supposed to be building supervisors, if the builder does their job properly we don’t need to supervise, and never try to take on that role, which should be the builder’s responsibility.
        Impractical design elements?? Yeh, we just like wasting our clients money in the hope they will tell all their friends and we won’t get any more work…
        Communication is a tricky skill, I will admit that, and yes can be difficult, but I don’t think thats an ‘architect-only’ issue.
        As an architect, there is no greater feeling than seeing your building complete. Every little detail that started on scraps of paper and lines on a computer screen coming to fruition is a wonderful part of the process. Ask any architect who’s project has been pulled at the last minute or delayed thorugh red-tape, funding or client necessity and you will see how disappointing it is not to have your work completed. And to say we are not interested in the quality is ridiculous, a poorly-constructed building with cheaper materials will not stand up to daily use and weathering, which is not what we want, we want our buildings to endure.
        And we are very interested in the completion time of the building, as it eats in to our fees. We get paid a fixed fee for admin, so if the project takes 18 months instead of 12 months, thats six months we have been doing the project for free. Same with variations. We have allowed to spend a certain amount of time on the admin of a project. Variations chew up an infinite amount of extra hours, often without us being able (or willing) to claim for additional fees. So there is an incentive there not to add on additional variations.

        In the end, architects, building designers, project builders and custom builder / designers all have their role to play in the construction industry. Definitely there are advantages and disadvantages to each model, but I think the disadvanatges listed above may be misleading to potential clients who haven’t worked with an architect before. There is a disclaimer on the arcticle that it is not objective, and probably neither are my comments above! I just wish there was more information out there for those who are trying to acsertain which procurement method suits their project, and again, that builders didn’t have to note the ‘disadvantages’ of architects to promote their own methods.

        Anyway, I’ll try and stop going on about it now…(maybe…!)

  6. I think you’re all missing the point of that add a tad. It’s not an emotional arguement or one of who’s right or who’s wrong with such a statement. What Dale Alcock is clever at achieving is a significantly larger market share in alts and adds – traditionally the realm of architects. Same applies for any major boutique builders in the single residential market. Its all about market share. I see Dale Alcock signs all the way through the western suburbs – i think therefore that the advertising campaign is an incredibly successful one.
    I think I got the same reaction regarding my uni supported archi practice comments. Most respondents missed the point of that – it doesnt do the underlying fundamentals of any architectural businesses any good to be operating un-profitably or in any form of subsidized model. Imagine Browne Neeves Group, JWH or BGC taking on such a model and trying to win a greater market share. All that does is marginalize us architects yet again.
    My view is if you are an architect in housing you also need to be a registered builder to take them on at their own game.

  7. At our firm, we’ve taken a legal project that is to convince some neighbours that are planning to build a house, designed by a builder, that cuts into the setback and blocks out our clients views. Not only that but the house in question completely blocks out their own West and South ocean views with a massive masonry fireplace….

    Regarding the ad, fools will be fools.

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