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Architect Has Word for It: Observation

September 01, 1985

Katherine Blair and The Times have performed a very valuable service to the public and the licensed architects in California by publishing "Malpractice Suits Aim at Architects" (Aug. 25).

However, there is one important aspect of the article that is incorrect and could do damage to the architectural profession. That is the use of the word supervision; that word was stricken from the AIA standard form of agreements and the word observation was substituted.

It may sound trivial and nit-picking, but it definitely is not. The courts have interpreted supervision as being the continuous on-site inspection to check the quality and quantity of the work. The architect's responsibilities for "contract administration" have never intended this as a part of their "service." Consequently, we have changed the word supervision to observation which has an accepted understanding of not requiring the architect to make exhaustive or continuous on-site inspections, but to merely observe.

This trivial word has lost lawsuits for architects since judges and/or juries believe that supervision by the architect is the guarantor of a perfect "product." Their unfair decisions and case law have made words such as periodic, as-built and supervision killers to our profession.

WILLIAM KRISEL

Los Angeles

Krisel is an architect heading his own firm.

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