Last (but not least!), we’re featuring Steve Lawler, Director of Architecture at BCCI Construction Co. in our series of interviews with construction industry experts who have landed coveted spots on San Francisco Business Times’ “Best Places to Work” list. Check out his Q&A below, and we’ll see you at AIA San Francisco on Wednesday, February 26 for the “Building a People-Based Practice” panel discussion, featuring all three construction company leaders and moderated by our founder and managing principal, William Duff Jr.
Which word would you use to describe your career path, and why?
It depends on the day…today, it’s “Focused,” in that I have always looked for opportunities to learn and grow and for the places to apply those learnings.
What led you from working for architecture and design firms to BCCI?
I have always believed in the romantic and/or historic view of the architect as the master-builder – today we know no one person or company can fulfill that role; it takes a team of experts. I’ve seen the growing shift in project delivery methodologies; today more and more clients, owners and developers are looking to and trusting the general contractor to lead the design and the build teams together in an integrated and collaborative process, one that embodies the ethos of the master-builder. Beyond just a “best place to work,” one reason I joined BCCI is because we have a forward-looking view and have embraced this industry shift. With our Professional Services Group (PSG) we have the in-house subject matter experts (SME’s) to align and partner with the brightest architects, engineers and builders (subcontractors) across the region in fulfilling our client’s vision and their needs for quality design and schedule and budget predictably – “it takes a village…”
Who do you admire, and why?
Who can choose just one!? I admire many types people – parents who raise happy and successful children (however success may be defined), spouses who stick together and give unwavering support through difficult times. Entrepreneurs/visionaries who have launched new businesses or ventures that have changed our world. People who embrace change. Those who admit to and learn from their mistakes and those who work in the service of others are just a few of those whom I admire.
Who is the person that can best describe you and what would that person say?
My wife – she’d say I can be difficult, I can be a bit quirky and that I always have to be doing something…
What’s the best lesson that architects can learn from builders and vice versa?
To vastly over simplify it:
Builders from Architects – Design is important! Like construction, design is a process, our process is just never complete. Ideas change, and there always is something better… and because we (architects) spend upwards of 70% of our time on non-design oriented tasks, design takes way longer…it’s not just lines on paper.
Architects from Builders – The actual cost of materials (and labor & production rates), how things are actually sequenced and built. With the shifting nature of project delivery models even more risk is being transferred to the general contractor; this is among reasons we are so process-driven. Leave some space for the “unexpected” – advanced digital modeling and drawing tools don’t necessary mean it can be built exactly as envisioned.