Sleazy and ImmoralOld
Robert Aho is the President and Principal
Architect of RA Architect Studios, LLC, a
architecture firm established in 2005, currently
employing three. Robert has over ten years of experience in the field of
architecture, as well as many more years of experience in other disciplines
within the construction industry. He is licensed to practice Architecture
in MN, WI, and MI, and is nationally certified through the National
Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and has met the
requirements for recommendation to all Registration Authorities in the
. Robert is also President of
the Construction Specifications Institute, Twin Ports Chapter. Through
, he has earned the distinction of
Contract Document Technologist, a rigorous exam that tests knowledge of the
General Conditions of the Contracts in common use. He has been an officer
and director for the Northern MN Chapter of the American Institute of Architects
for the past three years. The
requires a higher standard than is
required by the State of
with continuing education for
licensed architects, and is also dedicated to providing resources for its
members in service to society.
general public might think an architect is only a person who draws and designs
a licensed professional architect is really an advocate for the client with a
an architect serves as the client’s agent on all matters surrounding
she resolves disputes that may occur, designs to a budget, analyzes costs that a
and implements many other administrative and legal functions connected with
the case of the new plans for ISD 709, the Duluth Public Schools, Johnson
Controls is the
and project manager. Instead of having state licensed architects represent the
Johnson Controls is in charge of hiring the architects and engineers to
Controls. This is highly unusual for any public entity to allow this.
multinational corporation is not in the business of guiding and protecting
pitfalls related to construction, as is a licensed architect. The people of
need to know
serious this is. The architect is licensed by the state to represent owners of
a contractor, especially one who is a big multinational corporation.
believe there is a huge conflict of interest in this arrangement, which creates
a disservice to
school district and our city. There is also little value in having the
architects represent the
It is similar to asking the fox to guard the chicken coop. Or asking your
a vegetarian diet. It’s just not smart.
Red Plan is, perhaps, the most expensive fix to the situation with the least
and return we could have imagined. This scenario will be disastrous for the
It is an unwise plan.
have all these really great architecture firms in
and rather than selecting licensed
to represent the district, they are going to a big multinational corporation.
How is this
multinational qualified to represent the school district in this regard, or any
regard for that
And then there is this incredible price tag.
so many Duluthians, I have a job, kids, and very little extra time in my life.
Well, I am
I must have misunderstood, because no school
or public entity for that matter, requires the Architect to represent the
that I, or any of my colleagues that I have spoken to, have ever heard about.
I then asked for more information about this RFQ.
I discovered led me to write a very strong letter to the Duluth Public School
I indicated the following major points:
Controls is asking that the Architects turn over full ownership of their
to them, the Contractor, JCI. This is a big no-no for Architects because it
compromises their service and raises safety concerns.
Architects are required to hold JCI legally harmless.
Architects are required to defend JCI.
dictates what can and cannot be discussed about the project, even to the
board, or to anyone.
hired JCI, the Contractor, to tell them what
think should be built, and then the Contractor is hiring the Architects to
and to justify this wish list to the school district.
the Architect works for the Contractor and not the school district, the
would be allowed to charge whatever he wants and provide less than was
upon -- essentially being given the green light to greatly increase the
of the project. There is really no upper limit to what could be charged, and
no one to
abuse. We would be at a legal disadvantage.
think what we need to do as a community is to realistically and smartly take an
the situation. Then we all need to take just a few precious moments, each of us,
and to democratically voice our opinions. Let’s act like true Americans.
would be better and far less expensive would be for the school district to hire
or two in-house. From there they could create a staff that could manage the
select local firms who really care about this community, and who could represent
directly. We need to build consensus and to stop allowing this situation to tear
something needs to be done, there is no doubt about that; but not in the way it
progressing. We need to find a better way that will not bankrupt the district
tax burdens. We need to think about finding a cost-effective way to solve some
important issues for our community, our schools and for our children.
Published with permission of the Hillsider. Article found on page 2 of
the April 2008 "Hillsider" The hillsider hosts
Robert Aho's website address is: http://www.raarchitect.com/contact.html