The Meter is Running
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Using down time to get projects in line.
AUTHOREthelind Coblin, Ethelind Coblin Architect
As an architect, your life is all about dealing with surprises and curveballs and the unexpected. But you've probably never seen a curveball like the one we're all facing right now. How are you and the firm dealing with the pandemic?
We're all still busy. We're all working remotely. We'd set up the computer system over a year ago because we're kind of a family office, and our family has family, so a lot of times they have to work from home. That part was seamless. But the fact that all work except for emergency construction has been stopped in the city, that has taken a toll on architectural firms, engineering firms and most of all on our contractors. But our staff is fine. We've kept them employed. So we're in good shape.
What kind of work is your staff doing? Are you reviewing things? Creating new things?
We're doing both. First, projects that were already in the pipeline for review prior to construction, they’re still in review at this time. There are very few initial submissions, because most co-op and condo boards or shareholders or unit-owners are not about to start a new project right now. But those who have started want to be queued up so that when this pandemic is over, they can really get back in and start work quickly.
You're talking about apartment alterations and combinations and so forth?
Yes, that's right.
On those jobs, does your firm review the plans of the shareholders’ and unit-owners’ architects?
That's correct. We review them on behalf of our co-op and condo clients to make sure that they're following the guidelines of the building, they're following agency requirements and best construction techniques. So we're in the process of continuing those reviews. And we're also working on our own design projects. We're entering several competitions, so that that keeps the design juices flowing for our staff. There's a lot of what we call EDU time, seminars online. You can't believe how many education seminars there are online right now.
Let's go back to what you said at the beginning. You said that your staff was prepared to work remotely. Do you think that's going to become a more common thing after the pandemic has passed? Do you think that this experience is going to change the way people work in New York?
It will change somewhat. Our teams will still need to come into the office periodically, though not every day. And some of the staff get more done at home than they do in the office because it can be very nice and quiet. But for those projects where we need to share information and really talk back and forth productively, then we need to be at the office. And if you need a coordination meeting with your engineers and contractors, we need to be on the site. You can't do that remotely. There's nothing like being there.