By Chris Mahoney, PE, LEED AP, Senior Electrical Engineer
I recently joined Integrated Design Group as an electrical engineer. Previously, I had worked for an MEP firm for 8 ½ years, on projects ranging from data centers and photovoltaic systems to commercial office buildings and pharmaceutical labs. Often the company was hired by outside architectural firms and brought in as an engineering consultant. The general feeling was that the architects, our clients, were in the driver’s seat and we played a secondary role. I think the approach tends to work well for an office renovation or retail project, but for a mission critical data center, where the electrical and mechanical infrastructure often governs the architectural design, it becomes more challenging. In the past, if we needed an 8’x10’ electrical room for new equipment, I might be lucky to get a triangular shaped room with half the square footage and a column smack in the middle. It was that type of a mentality, which stemmed from a lack of communication and “team” approach.
So I’ll admit to having been slightly uneasy about joining an A/E firm. Changing jobs can be nerve-racking as it is, but you’re telling me that the architects and engineers actually sit amongst each other?? As equals?? All kidding aside, there really is a unique atmosphere here at Integrated Design Group and a true “integrated” feeling that is refreshing. Rather than waiting weeks for a coordination meeting with the architect or the latest backgrounds to be updated, there is collaboration taking place every day. This not only saves time but leads to a better overall design solution. I’ve already enjoyed many brainstorming sessions with the entire team sitting around the table throwing out ideas. It also gives each team member a better understanding and knowledge of the other disciplines, which I think is invaluable. Based on the reputation of the company and number of repeat clients, it’s easy to see that the formula is working.
So how does the adage go? If architects designed a building without engineers, the building would fall down. And if engineers designed a building without architects, then the people would tear it down. Well, probably some truth to that…but hopefully the emergency generators would still be up and running.