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Not Like 'Fountainhead'

September 22, 1985

Katherine Blair's article (Aug. 25) made repeated reference to architects performing "supervision of construction." This was a distressing error in an otherwise informative article regarding professional liability.

Uninformed writers and "Fountainhead" reruns with a swashbuckling Gary Cooper (compleat in khakis and boots while directing the placement of scaffolding) continue to resurrect "supervision" as an architect's duty owed to his client.

Not so. For over 20 years, the courts have properly held that "supervision" includes control of construction means, methods, techniques, sequences and procedures . . . all of which are clearly the responsibility of the construction contractor.

The architect provides contract administration for the owner and performs periodic on-site observation of construction in order to determine general compliance with the contract documents. This phase of the design process is a substantial undertaking, albeit cast in a far less romantic role than Ayn Rand would have preferred.

DONALD W. REIDENBAUGH

Los Angeles

Reidenbaugh is executive vice president of the Kober Group, architects and planners.

Blair responds: While the distinction between "periodic on-site observation" and "supervision" may be important in other contexts, the point I made remains the same whatever word is used. An architect who allows his plans to be used without frequently visiting the site to insure that the contractor is correctly interpreting his construction documents (drawings and specifications), the building is free of design defects, and quality control is maintained, leaves himself wide open to a lawsuit.

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