History of the Masterbuilder

Long, long ago, the Greeks gave the ancient Masterbuilder the name ảpxitέktwv (architekton), from which the Romans derived the Latin name, architectus. Both words literally mean "masterbuilder"—as denoting one responsible for the design and construction of the built environment.

Now for thousands of years the ancient Masterbuilder held sway as the preeminent professional responsible for the built environment. But this status began to erode in the Renaissance period, when artists such as Michelangelo, having absolutely no understanding of the building arts, started taking on architectural commissions. This set into motion a series of events over a four-hundred-year time frame that eventually culminated in the astonishing disappearance of the Masterbuilder in the 20th century.

With the disappearance of the Masterbuilder the divide between the designer and constructor of the built environment has grown to where there is very little interaction between the two.  Many times the architect is hired as a sub contractor of the general contractor with very little control over the final outcome of the project.   This lack of interaction between design and construction has affected the high quality of the built environment that the population deserves while also affecting the budgets and schedules of these projects.

All of that is about to change.  At TES Architects we are going back to the mythical idea of the architect as the Master Builder. Contracted to the owner, TES Architects offers full service to the owner, taking responsibility for managing the subcontractors, consultants and vendors, and involving them throughout the project, start to finish, from design through construction. The architect’s role shifts during the project, from designer to site supervisor (effectively taking the role of a general contractor), but monitors the project vision, and is able to call upon subcontractors’ construction expertise throughout.

In architect-led design–build projects, the architect:

  • Serves the owner directly, rather than through the contractor.
  • Respects the contractors’ craft expertise and time.
  • Facilitates a profitable project for all.
  • Facilitates as the “conductor of a work or symphony with only a single performance”, advocating the owner’s vision, maximizing the subcontractors’ construction expertise and brokering the two.

Above all, the architect leading the design–build project empowers the architects and contractors to produce better, cost effective, higher quality, context-sensitive, high performance buildings. How? By comprehending, prioritizing, and designing according to specific relationships between scope, quality and time, and by optimizing cost to program.

So by inviting architects to lead, the design–build method gives Architects a platform for advocating, design, clients, respecting craftsmanship and reasserting the value of Architects’ expertise, improving the built environment.