Professionalism and Building Systems

by Duane S. Ellifritt, (M.ASCE), Dir. of Engrg. and Research; Metal Building Manufactures Assoc., 1230 Keith Building, Cleveland, Ohio 44115,

Serial Information: Issues in Engineering: Journal of Professional Activities, 1981, Vol. 107, Issue 3, Pg. 205-211

Document Type: Journal Paper


Building systems that are designed, produced and marketed by companies are taking over a large share of the low-rise nonresidential market. These companies employ in-house structural engineers to design and research their systems. Work that was once performed by consulting structural engineers on a building-by-building basis is now done by the manufacturers' engineering staffs on systems that are sold repetitively. This trend has cut into the traditional role of the consultant. It also is widening the rift between those engineers who work directly for clients (so-called design professionals) and those who design a product for an employer. Is one more professional than the other? The question is not new, but it has taken on a new twist lately, primarily in the field of standardized building systems. Some of the prevailing attitudes in this quarrel are examined, and an attempt is made to explain these attitudes in terms of design philosophy, economics and human nature.

Subject Headings: Consulting services | Building systems | Building design | Systems engineering | Low-rise buildings | Structural design | Client relationships | Architect/Engineers

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