What is a Masterbuilder?

Architekton is the Greek word for masterbuilder. The ancient masterbuilder was trained in all phases of design and construction. His responsibility extended well beyond the architectural design. He was the overseer of the entire project, from concept, design through construction; the masterbuilder.

The Architektron and the owner worked together; there was no general contractor between them; no misguided interpretation of the original architectural design. There are few modern day masterbuilders. The high standards and responsibilities of the masterbuilder are unique; extreme passion and dedication. A masterbuilder cannot separate his design from the construction. It is this driving passion that leads the masterbuilder to excellence. It would be a great mistake to think that any qualified architect can assume the role of a masterbuilder. The architect must be committed to learn the construction trade. There exists an entirely different environment when the modern day architect leaves the comfort of his office and steps into the construction world. Most of the tradesmen look at an architect on the jobsite as the ivory tower thinker with no clue how to actually build the design he created.

Modern day general contractors left to make design field changes will make those changes through a construction point of view, not solving the problem through a design point of view. His design construction choices will typically be based on how best to expedite the change without regard to the architecture. He will do it the cheapest and fastest way, especially if it comes out of his pocket.

The architect must understand that the dynamics of the field conditions at the jobsite can be different than what is shown on the construction drawings. He must have the ability to adjust to those dynamics when design and construction issues present themselves. The question should be “how can we fix this problem?” There must be collaboration between the architect and the tradesmen; not dictation. When the architect understands all the elements of the building dynamics and has the respect of the tradesmen he has then arrived and has earned the right to call himself a masterbuilder.