As a rule the client who has lived with the construction site since its origins recognizes and feels part of the achievement and in retrospect, has probably quite enjoyed the process. Regrettably however there is a tendency for occupants who have not grown up with it to be somewhat petulant about teething troubles, particularly if they have lived through the defects period with the need for doors to be eased and air-conditioning to be balanced.
The architect’s hunted behaviour in dealing with this is probably part of the vacuum he inevitably feels on completing a job which has occupied him fully for a number of years. It probably also accounts for his sense of personal injury when typists stick calendars on the newly decorated walls with adhesive tape, after he has spent three months avoiding arbitration with the general contractor in establishing the client’s right to have the walls totally redecorated after the defects period.
If a client decides to have an opening ceremony it will generally be some time after occupation of the building, when it is looking clean, trim and in good working order. With a large company, the event frequently contains a strong element of public relations, and the architect’s involvement will be minimal in terms of arrange-
ments. It may require the preparation of a brief description of the building, its services, its principal components and its vital statistics, which may or may not include the construction time and cost. A credits list will generally be asked for but there may be reluctance to publish any more than names of the principal consultants.
This is a full-scale client’s event, and an architect must recognize that the process by which the building emerged is the last thing which will be in the client’s mind, or be of significance to the ceremony. The process is generally acknowledged in the ceremony, but only in passing, and the architect or anyone from the design and construction team is unlikely to be invited to participate except as an observer. The architect’s job has been completed long before this event takes place; so in client terms there is, strictly speaking, no need for him to be involved at all.
In the end the architect has both to acknowledge that the building belongs to someone else, and to learn not to object to its being occupied by the people who paid for it. The opening ceremony quite clearly declares and confirms the occupant as the owner of the building.