Are architects being kept up to date with emerging technology within building management systems when it comes to Audio/Visual systems and lighting controls?

We've been in the business long enough to have experienced architects not thinking about the AV or lighting systems until AFTER structural designs habeen done, creating a drawn out processes and costing the client more money. It's an understandable situation; architects don't have the time or facilities to become experts in audio-visual, but that's why people like us exist!

Commercial architects face a demanding task in keeping abreast of building techniques, new design concepts and government legislation, so it is entirely understandable for them to concentrate on those aspects of their jobs rather than to investigate the intricacies of AV, lighting and control systems. The design of a complex lighting system is not something that an architects practice is likely to be able to undertake in-house. Their focus is on the fabric of the building, it's usability and look-and-feel, ensuring compliance with local regulations and energy management targets, and on top of that be aware of what is achievable and be able to calculate the cost of including the system components.

There are manufacturers who design and develop more integrated systems as one-stop-shop solutions but their ability to meet clients particular needs can be compromised. Alternatively, architects can turn to independent consultants for guidance; it's important to become involved at the initial phase of a project, drawing up functional specifications etc as often it’s too late to incorporate things when the building is all but finished; Audio-visual control is not an add-on but an intrinsic part of a finished project.

The interiors and exteriors of modern buildings that are highly stylised, with changing lighting, signage and comprehensive AV systems, are often linked to integral building management systems and it's the role of the integrator or consultant to advise on what can and cannot be done, risking unpopularity and resistance from the architects who are generally keen to try any and every technique that will make their building stand out. Technology changes all the time, and often the architect will have seen something that they have latched onto which isn't suited to their project.

Professional bodies throughout the world serve to extend the skills and professional competence of architects through on-going training programmes. In the UK, the CPD program of RIBA lists technical innovations as one of its mandatory core curriculum subjects. Seminars and roadshows hosted by at RIBA offices or architectural practices provide an opportunity for integrators and trade bodies to present technical material and meet architects face to face. The CPD programme develops architects knowledge to enable them to understand the broad concepts of available technology and to develop their confidence in dealing with system integrators and in drawing up safe specifications at an early stage.
As independent AV consultants, for a vast range of commercial venues, Leamington Sight and Sound provide unbiased advice tailored to architects and their clients needs. As product and service providers, we benefit from having architectural technologies in our organisation, and so can liaise with architects on their terms, thus creating long term relationships and high levels of trust; essential in generating business.

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