It is not enough to know the tricks of the trade, you need to know the trade.
A tree is felled. To the wood of that tree, we add human labor to get a seat. The seat we get from the simple addition of labor to material may be little more than a chunk of wood cut to size, without consideration for materiality, durability, solidity or aesthetics.
The origin of craftsmanship lies in the education of human labor – the gradual honing of skills – the mastery of tool and technique – the development of a broad and deep knowledge of materials. To the human labor that gave us a seat from the wood of the tree, we must add craftsmanship if we would have a well made and aesthetically pleasing chair.
The term mētis comes from ancient Greek. It can be thought of as a process of thought and action – a process that draws equally on experience, imagination, creativity, intuition and wit. The practitioner of mētis shares much with the bricoleur – working with the elements at hand, discerning the hidden possibilities within a situation, reimagining and repurposing as necessary to optimize outcomes.
Given a perfect world, where drawings sets are always complete and ideal building conditions prevail, mastery of craft is adequate to facilitate the successful realization of a project. Given the imperfect, ambiguous and ever changing conditions of the world we actually inhabit, mētis gives us a process that helps us rethink, reimagine, reuse, repurpose and rehabilitate – a process that produces innovative and interesting outcomes from disparate groups of elements and ideas – a process that reveals the design opportunities hidden within “design challenges”.
The examples of the design and building process below feature challenges from a variety of our projects. Whether the challenge at hand was one of craft or had its origin in site conditions, budgetary constraints or code requirements – the solution inevitably benefited from the dynamic and creative process that is Mētis.
The meticulous attention to detail that the craftspeople at Mētis bring to the design and fabrication of a back bar is also present in our approach to project management. Whether it is pricing, value engineering, cost control or day-to-day project coordination, excellence in project management is a foundational element of the Mētis culture.
Pricing – Compared to the industry standard, the approach to pricing taken by Mētis estimators is decidedly “old school”. At Mētis project pricing is developed task by task, stick by stick, trade by trade – it is an exacting process that, above all, yields remarkably accurate numbers.
Value Engineering – With pricing established, value engineering too often consists of deleting line item after line item until, finally, stripped of defining details, the project bears only the vaguest resemblance to the original concept. At Mētis, we try to “get inside” the project concept – we try to understand the experience that the client and architect are trying to create. From there, value engineering is a collaborative process of finding ways of reigning the budget in – without compromising the vision. Good value engineering is far more than deletion – it is a creative process requiring a dynamic and innovative approach to design development.
Cost Control – Once the project is underway, cost control and tracking measures are absolutely essential to ensuring that the project is brought in on budget. Mētis is on a 14 day billing cycle with cost tracking attached to every cycle. On rapidly unfolding projects, this type of close budget management is the only way to ensure that projects come in on budget.
Scheduling – Purely from a construction cost perspective, a standard project schedule with on time delivery is the most efficient and economical approach. Often, however, project timelines are set by lease agreements, promised shell and core delivery dates, etc. In these situations, the added costs associated with an expedited project schedule can be money well spent. Ultimately, there is no one right approach to scheduling – standard and expedited project schedules each have their advantages and associated costs. What is absolutely crucial, is that the advantages and costs of each approach are clearly communicated and that the client is given all of the information necessary to make an informed decision.
Subcontractors – Mētis has forged long-standing relationships with our subcontractors. The result is a cohesive approach to project execution, cost control and delivery in which our subcontractors are committed participants.