Machine Age the Five Architectural Essay

  • Length: 13 pages
  • Subject: Architecture
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #14301973

Excerpt from Essay :

The professional manager held ultimate responsibility for construction, while the designer's authority with respect to the client receded. on-site work done by subcontractors was managed by large general contractors who provided the supervising engineers, and did not necessarily have to adhere to the designers places (Cuff 33). This change was a direct consequence of the arrangement of work in the Industrial Revolution, where specialisation was given new dimensions and management sped up to keep pace with the quickening of material manufacturing, steam-powered machine labour, and transportation systems. It also was necessitated by the increase in the mathematical and mechanical knowledge of structures. It became difficult if not impossible for one person to understand the complicated mathematics of design and materials, and to apply this within the field of craftsmanship and building. With increasing information through new media, it was also difficult to keep abreast of current technological advances.

All of these changes were evident in the three buildings discussed above. In the case of the Eiffel Tower, the new system of bidding out design contracts -- one that harkened back to Renaissance competitions -- is clear. Eiffel was not a single man but a design firm under his direction, and his company won the contract over 100 other bidders. With Telford, Paxton, and Eiffel, fresh designs using different materials were implemented based on new principles of mathematics and production. Some of these designs, such as that of the Crystal Palace, resulted in new services including heating and ventilation (Nuttgens 245); Paxton's innovations with glass and iron were a radical departure from previous architecture (Kostoff 595) and heralded the rise of construction materials in the future (skyscrapers) rather than those of previous eras (Middleton & Watkin 359) . In each case, the site work was managed efficiently by the contractor, not by the architect. The contractor coordinated subcontracted labour in these buildings. The sites were organised with sophistication based on premanufactured materials and mechanisation of the worksite. Craft guilds vanished, replaced by contractors to improve productivity and uniformity. The designer made designs off-site and submitted them to the contractor. Architecture moved away from involvement with construction. The master builder tradition disappeared with this professionalised split.

The change to labour was in the reduction of the amount of manpower necessary given the ascendancy of the new machines and the mechanisation of all processes formerly requiring human and animal muscle. The workforce reduced although the scale of the building projects increased. Labourers were required to possess increased specialisation, and may have been guided in their work practises by the Protestant notion of the intrinsic value of work. In addition, knowledgeable people were needed to run machines. The notion of the guild dissipated, transformed now into the industrial labour union that tried to negotiate wages against entrepreneurial capitalists who built to make money. Subcontractors and contractors managed their own labourers under the overarching eye of the general contractor. The architect, who was now a pure designer, played no role in the management of craft builders or engineers.

Much of the management thought during this time influenced the way labour was organised in the factory system. A great deal of scrutiny was applied towards increasing worker motivation and productivity through incentives. The division of labour into specialised tasks was amplified. Manufacturing processes were simplified and reduced, with their unnecessary elements eliminated. Production was standardized and submitted to quality-control procedures, increased surveillance, and monitoring. This entire culture was in the service of profit.

All of these management theories, driven by a social scientific thrust, combined to lay the groundwork for twentieth-century management techniques, epitomized by Taylor's the Principles of Scientific Management, which extends beyond the time period of this investigation. They reflect the growing need in the Industrial Revolution for the creation of a professional class of managers. Many of the ideas would have been adopted by industrial contractors in their supervision of work processes, although only in an elementary form. As such the Industrial Revolution, both in its social and technological influences, prepared for later generations of project managers.

One of the fundamental testaments to the rapid amount of progress levied during the Industrial Revolution in areas of economics, labor, and construction technology is the length of time with which major structures were erected. At the beginning of the period, projects such as the Menai Straits Suspension Bridge and Iron Bridge routinely took around five years to complete, whereas some structures, such as the Thames Tunnel, took the better part of 20 years to finish. But as principles of management were refined and communication became more efficient throughout the duration of the 19th century, it is highly important to see the expedience of the completion of structures like the Eiffel Tower and the Crystal Palace, which were finished in approximately two years each. It is also important to note the purpose of the five building projects examined in this document, which changed also throughout the course of the Industrial Revolution to reflect the evolving levels of sophistication with which increased scientific and technologic advancements had given the world. The earliest of these structures were built for simple transportation purposes, and functioned primarily due to necessity of bridging and connecting disparate locations. By the end of this era, however, structures were raised in much less time for reasons of luxury -- such as to host specific events that may have had some cultural and economic significance (Plumley), but were by no means as vital to the livelihoods of residents as the building off tunnels and bridges were. In this respect, the Eiffel and the Crystal Palace demonstrate a definite trend towards modernity in which basic needs are taken care of and luxuries and superfluous concerns can be met as a result -- particularly since the former was widely financed by the French government (Ryan).

Another important factor related to all five of these construction projects is their relationship to the economy of the areas in which they were built. In a way, these economic reasons helped to magnify the growing economic climate of the time as advanced by Adam Smith and his treatise on the subject, the Wealth of Nations, which called for an open market (Smith, a 533). All of the structures created for transportation purposes (the Menai Straits Suspension Bridge, the Thames Tunnel and Iron Bridge) were necessary to connect parts of the United Kingdom with others so that residents could readily import and export materials and goods for economic benefit. The connection that these structures literally provided reflected the metaphorical connection of economic principles advanced by Smith in calling for a global system of economics led by capitalism, which was readily adopted by other theorists after his writing (Fusfeld 24). The works at the end of the Industrial Revolution, which were erected due to the efficacy of prefabricated parts and which included the Crystal Palace (Kostoff 594), also help to reflect the growing sense of a global market, since these structures could be transported across the world. Master builders such as Gustave Eiffel certainly helped to propagate this notion in his work on the Statue of Liberty -- which utilized prefabricated parts and was originally constructed in France before being shipped to the United States for its permanent location. The usage of such technology helped to denote the progression towards modernity and a change from contemporary architecture (Loyrette 116). Although monuments such as the Crystal Palace, Eiffel Tower, and even the Statue of Liberty are more indirect means of economic measures since people tend to view them for the sake of novelty and for pleasure, the exchange of construction between countries with even this amount of economic benefits definitely adheres to Smith's principles.

Additionally, it is interesting to note the role that communication played in the increasing globalization that the Industrial Revolution provided. With international communication easily facilitated by inventions such as the telegraph and the telephone, commerce and exchange between nations became considerably more expedient. Additionally, the technological prowess of coal and steam engines that allowed for steam-powered ships and a readily accessible railway system allowed for vital construction materials to be transplanted with a speed that was demonstrated in the construction swiftness of the Eiffel Tower and the Crystal Palace. Countries such as England had more steam-powered devices than those utilizing water at the end of the 1800's (Crafts 344).

The swiftness with which the construction of the Eiffel Tower and the Crystal Palace were completed reflect other valuable changes in management that took place during this epoch. The propensity to utilize mass production, which would later become perfected via the assembly line process during the machine age and was typified by the factory process (Hutt), played a direct role in the creation of the prefabricated parts that these structures incorporated. The facilitation of mass production was one of the most important aspects of the Industrial Revolution, particularly when one examines its effect on…

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