Where fabrication and design meet

This little re-quote has been sitting in my ‘Drafts’ folder for a while.  I find it quite challenging:

AEC is the only profession where the fabricators do not own the designers. Nike designs and then fabricates the shoe, Ikea designs and then fabricates the products and basically every element around us owns the fabrication and the design. When contractors figure out how to control the design, then the industry will be turned upside down.
Jason Grant’s Blog – Adaptive Practice by Jason Grant

What do you think?

Leave a Reply

5 Comment threads
3 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
0 Comment authors
AnonymousMartin TaurerJason GrantLuke JohnsonSteve Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Aaron Maller

I think that point in time has come and gone, and a lot of people arent realizing it yet. That said, the industry getting "turned upside down" is a GREAT thing. Working for an integrated company, i get to see more and BETTER designs realized BECAUSE the GC is well versed in BIM, and its NOT just on work where we are the designers, either. On three seperate projects were working on now, as a third party GC (we arent on the design team at all) BIM and Direct Model To Fabrication capabilities are either: 1. Making particular scopes of… Read more »


The statement is not factually correct. There are goodly number of companies that create products that do not actually fabricate things themselves, another company fabricates either parts or the whole thing for them.

When I worked for a manufacturer the were many things that we hired other companies to make for us. We eventually put things together to make a whole. The fabricators in this case did not own the design process, they simple filled an order for something we needed.

Luke Johnson

You said you were working for a manufacturer Steve – so one of the 'fabricators' owned that particular design process, but the sub-fabricators did not. I think the statement: "Architects do not have absolute power over fabrication" is generally true, and "Builders do not have absolute power over design" is also generally true. However, in many (perhaps most) other industries, the makers are somehow joined to the designers. I don't think that contractors will ever completely control the design, but there is a tension that currently exists between designers and GCs that is probably swinging in favour of GCs at… Read more »

Jason Grant

It can really go either way Steve and in your example you seemed intimately aware of exactly how it would be fabricated so it could be constructed. Architects do tremendous amount of work on a generic understanding of how it will be constructed which is ultimately lost and is a wasted effort. Apple is a good example… they don't actually fabricate the iPhone but the control every aspect of the fabrication and assembly. I just don't see architects getting past themselves to learn how things are fabricated. It is more likely though that construction firms will hire more architects to… Read more »


This is well said, and cannot be stated enough, coming from someone who works within architecture (but should probably in construction).


From the simple business standpoint, Jason's comments make sense: if time is money (which it is), then it would simply be a more efficient process for the contractor (the one with the building knowledge) to push the documents as far as he can in-house. It would also have the additional benefit of having "experts" around him who know the actual cost of construction, and thereby reducing the number of VE items during the process, and not at the end.

Martin Taurer

Architects doing construction drawings these days is at the best sad to watch and at worst pathetic. Many of my younger peers have lost any touch of reality of how things are actually built. I consider myself a bad architect because my construction site knowledge is not as firm as I would want it to be. Sad part is that young peers don't even bother to have one. Arch schools told them that this would inhibit their design inspiration. Who is to blame – IMHO, university academia (who did not build crap themselves in the first place)… I apologize for… Read more »


I additionally cannot agree more. I also have come to the exact same conclusions.