Teamwork makes the dream work

Douglas and King grew up in Shoreditch, a formerly semi-derelict and leftover backwater which has undergone a successful culture led urban regeneration programme. As a consequence the practice has built a large portfolio of completed design led projects. Our early clients were not developers, investors or banks but were laypeople and owners of underdeveloped or semi derelict properties. People of little or no development experience whatsoever and who need to be guided through a very complex process in terms of planning, construction, and occupation. We had no choice but to lead the projects from the front, this meant employing the RIBA Plan of Work and managing the projects from start to finish around a sound and credible business model.

Today, the result is that we are a Design Led office that is not frightened of leadership or commitment at all stages. We predict opportunities, design great buildings, and environments and know how to build and inspire everyone involved in a project. We understand how to get the best out of large teams. We have lived through a regeneration boom, the delivery processes we have evolved and deployed have upscaled and been implemented structuring projects throughout London and the wider UK.

There has been a lot of debate in the media recently about Project Management and the role of the Architect.

At Douglas and King we lead the project from inception with the aim of adding value through design and management excellence. We work closely with our clients and co-ordinate and collaborate with other professionals. We ensure our projects are fully and appropriately resourced and, as Chartered Architects, we are supported in all our undertakings by the RIBA. We have an extensive portfolio of completed and ongoing projects, all of which have been or are design led, solution focused and action oriented.  All our projects are structured around an Architects Development Appraisal.

The Architects Development Appraisal is written at the outset of a project and is the tool by which we set out the project brief, structure, design criteria and financial expectation.  The Appraisal is the key aid to a successful project management strategy and through its use throughout the timeline of the project it enables the essential aspects of monitoring and evaluation, reporting and cost control.

The Appraisal format that we use at Douglas and King is the mechanism by which long term aspirations are kept clearly in sight throughout the various twists and turns that a project make take during the course of its development and realisation.

The key components of our development appraisals are:

1. The Executive Summary
Development Appraisals are working documents and are regularly updated. Each revision/update is covered by an executive summary explaining the key features since the last revision..

2. The Delivery Programme
All projects are structured around the RIBA Plan of Work which runs from Stage 1 (Strategic Definition) to Stage 7 (in Use). It is important to explain the sequencing of the Plan of Work by identifying the stages within the project development and to tailor the Plan of Work to individual projects. The Appraisal is updated regularly and the Delivery Programme runs in parallel with the Appraisal, indicating the progression of each stage  alongside the overall programme.

3. Critical Path Analysis
The critical path analysis explains in diagrammatic form the various paths that need to be followed to achieve key milestones. Each path sets out the various components that need to be synchronised in order for these milestones to be accomplished.

4. The Areas Schedule
The areas schedule sets out the Architects understanding of the development potential of the site in terms of floor areas.

5. Assessment of Construction Costs
Construction costs are the domain of the Quantity Surveyor. We work closely with a Quantity Surveyor to ensure that the implications of Architectural decisions are fully articulated and understood in terms of cost and complexity.

6. Assessment of Delivery Costs
Working with a Quantity Surveyor is the safeguarding system by which the delivery costs are predicted, confirmed, and tracked. The Appraisal sets out the professional team’s input by discipline and quantifies their individual fees, the requirements and cost of specific surveys and specialist reports, CIL tax, local authority and other submission expenses, and any other costs not associated with the purchase of a site or the construction contract.

Therefore a complete cost-tracking schedule is incorporated into the Appraisal and this is updated monthly in order to monitor all professional fee claims against agreed appointments. Whilst all appointments within the project are made directly with our clients, the individual and master work-flow and fee draw-downs, etc are regularly monitored by the Architect.

7. Assessment of GDV and Yield Cost
We provide information to our clients and also commercial agents within the professional team in order that the value of the completed project can be predicted. As market conditions change it is important that the GDV and Yield expections are regularly re-appraised against current market conditions.

8. Financial Summary
The financial summary reviews the development costs against the ultimate yield or GDV.

9. Consultant Reports
Each month we ask consultants to write a very brief statement for inclusion in the Development Appraisal. Their report is indicative of their individual progress within the Plan of Work and to the advancement of the key milestones.

The Development Appraisal is therefore a live document from project outset to completion that continuously tracks and indicates the health of a project.

Examples of Projects where Douglas and King Architects act as Design Leader, Co-ordinating Consultant and Project Manager..

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions


Q. Architects have a bit of a reputation for being unreliable in managing project budgets i.e. cost over runs?
A. Quantity Surveyors are experts in the managing of costs relating to building projects.  It is a key appointment and should be made at the earliest possible opportunity in order to work with the Architect in structuring, monitoring and controlling the financial aspects of a project while still achieving the required quality and standard..

Q. If Architects are so instrumental in producing and monitoring the Development Appraisal why are Architects reluctant to call themselves Project Managers?
A. The role of the Architect is by definition that of a Project Manager. The Architect’s ambition is driven by the desire to deliver a project of design quality within the given development criteria. The term, Project Manager, suggests that projects are simply driven by process.

Q. Why is an Architect the Co-ordinating Consultant and not a Project Manager.
A. Architects are the Co-ordinating Consultant, information from all other consultants and agents are assembled, checked and included in the Architects drawings and specifications. In addition to this co-ordinating role the Architect is the only member of the consultant team that has a close involvement with the project from start to finish. On large or complex projects it is sometimes a client preference to employ a Project Manager to measure and monitor progress, however the Architect remains the Project Leader and Co-ordinator.

Q. Why is the project not led by different professionals dependant on the stage of a project?
A. Continuity, connectivity, comprehending the bigger picture. information exchange abilities, collaboration, know-how and financial acumen – all of these qualities lie within the realm of the Architect.

A dictatorial style of leadership works as poorly in Project Management as it does in Personnel Management. The key to the success in either field is the collaborative spirit through which the team communicates, co-ordinates and thrives.