About the time I was getting out of college, John Portman, an Atlanta architect, was designing the first Hyatt Hotel with an atrium lobby, pictured above. Unlike most architects, Portman was deeply involved in the development of his projects, not just the design. I was fascinated. And when I came across an article describing all the costs that went into one of his projects, I typed it up. Yep, this was the pre-electronic (caveman) era and electric typewriters were all the rage. Photocopiers were the size of a VW bus and the entire country shared three of them, one per time zone.
The list was really an eye-opener. I had never imagined there were so many things outside of design and construction that went into a project. The construction cost was just one simple line item, and the article explained that construction cost rarely exceeded 2/3 of the total cost. Even though these projects were major commercial undertakings - hotels, merchandise mart, office high-rises - there were many similarities to the schools that I was working on. We didn't consider hardly any of the items in the list, but the Owner had to. Here is the list I typed up.
Years later, when I had been on my own for about eight years, we were charged by county government to design a seniors center that was being funded mainly by a grant. Nearly every meeting included a sermon on how important it was to keep within the budget because the county simply didn't have any more money. So I dug out John Portman's list, made it relevant to this project, and got serious about finding out how much all this stuff cost. The effort paid off, and that was the first of a dozen projects that we did for the county - all of them with very tight budgets.
Title Photo from Wikipedia
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