Architects and FM... working together to protect the inheritance | Macro

Architects and FM... working together to protect the inheritance


By Hugh Henderson, Director of Consultancy, Macro

Are architects so remote from the operational end users of buildings that somewhere along the design stage there is often a disconnect? From my experience in the UK and the Middle East it’s true in some cases and whether this is driven by the client or the design team, we have inherited buildings that are expensive to operate, impractical to maintain and clean and worse still, provide an unproductive or unsafe environment.  So how do we ensure that building users get what they need and that we don’t face spiraling costs and excessive service charges? 

Part of the solution must lie in the hands of the architects and the Facilities Management (FM) professionals who look after the interests of the owners and end-users.  Close cooperation through the concept and design stages and beyond will highlight areas of concerns, help manage risk and give an early heads up on cost implication. So do the two professions work well together and is there a meeting of minds?

Back in the 70s, architects were some of the pioneers of the concept of facilities management.  FM has since emerged as an established discipline in its own right and there are now almost 50,000 members of several national and international professional FM bodies across the world; from countries and regions including Brazil, Australia, France, UK, Hungary, USA and the Middle East. The International FM Association and the Global FM alliance promote International FM best practice, and work is in hand to develop an ISO standard for FM.   

The FM sector is vast and diverse and includes a mix of in-house FMs, specialist FM consultancies, management companies, service providers, large total FM multi-service companies, and Special Purpose Vehicles, managing and delivering a full range of design, build and operate projects.

So where does the FM profession add value and how can Architects and Facilities Managers work together?

For architects the challenge is to balance design with sustainability, function and overall appeal.  For FM the challenge is primarily about the efficient use of space and cost management.  By working together we create a dynamic relationship that can add value to a project and that can have a huge impact on not only design and appeal, but also on the long term costs and functionality of a building and the performance of end-users. The outcome will be a greater return on investment for developers, owners and shareholders alike.

FM supports and protects organisations, allowing them to focus on their core business. This directly contributes to profitability by driving operational efficiencies, it ensures a safe and sustainable work environment and through its focus on managing properties and the workplace it can protect and enhance the reputation and image of any organisation. It’s been estimated that FM accounts for 80% of the life cycle cost of a property over its lifetime, with the design and build accounting for the remaining 20%. Keep in mind that recent research has shown that buildings consume 39% of all energy and 76% of all electricity (in the US market) and that they generate 36% of CO2; this means that FM also has a key part to play in the sustainability agenda.  Many FMs are also the guardians of Health and Safety and the impact of a diverse range of Health and Safety legislation needs to be addressed by professionals.  The message for any organisation is clear: “ignore FM at your peril”.

The 2013 RIBA plan of work and the AIA phases of design align with the input of FM through the design development, construction and operations stages for any development or building.  Whether Architects deal with an in-house FM client or an FM consultancy, the areas for collaboration are the same. 

Without doubt, the market is waking up to the value of collaboration between Architects and FM. The more FM can be a part of any project team, the less pain there will be at the hand-over stage.

A version of this was published in FM Middle East

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