Monday, December 5, 2011

Pen to Paper

          The below article from The Brickbuilder, 1912 is a time capsule of technology for how architects worked to produce the final product. In pre-computer-assisted days the focus of the office is a central  filing room. The firm Carrere & Hastings was one of the leading proponents of Beaux-Arts architecture  in America. Offices were located here.


                                                        How Architects Work                       
                                                            D Everett Ward
                                                    Offices of Noted Architects.     

The headquarters of Carrère & Hastings is an interesting study, not simply because it is one of the largest architectural offices in the world, but because, being newly planned after long experience in building up and organizing a successful professional business, the plan is an expression of the relation of the parts of the organization and the method of administration. The visitor may be surprised on being told that the filing room is the central feature around which the whole office is planned. This is true evidently because this room contains the instruments of service through which the architects accomplish their work. It is the focal point for the receiving,  distributing, and recording of designs, specifications, and orders. In theory every drawing, specification, order, and letter must pass through this room before it can leave the office. Conversely, every shop drawing, every sample submitted for approval, and every document returned must pass through this room before it reaches the architect or any department of his organization. 

Filing and Package Room
Upon effective carrying out this theory depends in large measure on the smooth working of the office administration and the prompt issuance of information upon which depends  the prompt execution of clients work. Referring to the plans  we may note first how conveniently a caller is cared for as soon as he enters the door of the general office. If he is a contractor he finds close at hand a table on which drawings may be spread  and superintendents or other executives to meet him there in conference. If he is a client he is shown into the impressively large reception room which is approached from the opposite end with equal convenience by a partner or any member of the office force; or the client can be ushered with facility to any private office for individual conference. 
Reception Room
Mr. Hastings is in immediate proximity to the reception room and the drafting room, and the work in the library is his studio. Even if he has visitors in conference a draftsman is at liberty to walk in, select a book, and return to the drafting room. The bookkeeping and financial center of office is where it should be, between the members of the firm and yet not visible from the outer office. Mr Brainerd , the business and engineering head of the firm, is in convenient touch with Mr. Hastings and the business office and is at the same time in the midst of his executive assistants. It may be remarked here that the management of the office is based on the idea that each individual should be entrusted with the charge of certain well defined work and then held responsible for results and that no automatic system can take the place of brains. When we find ourselves in the immense drafting' room we may note that the two long detail tables in the middle of the room have drawers under, containing sketches, etc., for reference, or drawing's in progress. Standing racks are ranged along between the columns, supporting drawings needed for reference by draftsmen at work.
Drafting Room
We need scarcely refer to other interesting arrangements of the office shown clearly by the plan, such as the fine sample room which is available on occasion for contractor's use. But before leaving the file room we may remark that this room is closed to all except the most efficient young lady in charge and her assistant. The latter has a mailing desk near the window and a machine for writing up records. All drawings received from the drafting room are entered on card lists, and if a drawing is handed out to any one in the drafting room its tag with a debit entry lies in a tray until that identical drawing is returned and replaced in the file. Scale drawings are kept in the metal '' clothes drier '' racks at the end of the room, and full size details are folded and filed edgewise in drawers in the manner of correspondence vertical files. Miscellaneous mounted drawings, photographs, etc., are placed in ordinary flat drawers and their location recorded by card index. The issuance and receiving of drawings, samples, etc., is recorded on thin card slips written once in duplicate and without any transcriptions, and also without requiring receipts.
For more on the lives of Carrère and Hastings click here.

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