Architects Adapt Design in Response to Workforce Shifts

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A reduction in the skilled construction workforce has forced firms like Sapp Design Architects to proactively change how they design for their clients.

President and founder of Sapp Design Architects, Michael Sapp, says this has caused his designers to reassess building design and materials, while considering the associated cost implications. “At the end of the day, to get a building built, we’ve got to have the workforce and materials to do that in a timely manner and on budget.”

Adjusting Creative Vision
Ben Sapp, head of business development says when skilled labor drops, industry leaders develop products that are pre-assembled and come to a construction site ready to install, without necessarily requiring a skilled tradesperson to put into place. “We’re starting to look at those products more seriously and learning how to implement them into our projects to help with speed and quality,” he says.
“That means we have to make sure we have great in house talent and capabilities to make adjustments as need be,” says Michael Sapp. “How we start the design of a building at its inception to the time we’re ready to put it to market could be completely different. We’re constantly testing the market, not only with design and using what we know is available, but also with the labor force availability. It’s changing so quickly that we have to pay close attention to all those details.”

The architects are constantly researching these ever changing elements to make sure that they adjust accordingly so when their design goes into the building phase, it’s reflecting the current market and utilizing the workforce and products that are available so their client gets the most out of their investment. “It’s like looking into a crystal ball every day,” says Michael Sapp. “As architects, we’re challenged with this new opportunity to reassess how we think about buildings. We want to give our clients the assurance that, even if their project changes or evolves during production that the finished product will be the best facility for them.”

Building in Flexibility
Ben Sapp says that it’s important to choose products that are easily swapped out should the need arise. If the products are too specific the production could be sidelined if they become unavailable. “You really have to be flexible with almost everything through the design of the building,” he says.

“We keep a pulse on the market,” says Michael Sapp. “We have close associations with general contractors and tradespeople and communicate with them on a regular basis about workforce. We are constantly talking to manufacturers about products and where they’re headed; if it’s on the market today will it still be on the market six months from now when we’re ready to start a project?”
Staying in the Know
Constant monitoring of the market, not just locally but nationally and even globally, allows for adjustments instead of total reinvention when it comes to projects.

“The research that we do and the associations that we keep in the industry to make sure we’re staying as current as we can possibly stay are so important, says Michael Sapp. “If you’re not trying to stay current then you and your client are going to be left behind. The quality of the workforce and materials that are put into a building will be a integral to its successful operations and overall longevity for many years.”

Michael Sapp says no matter what firm an owner chooses to design their building it’s important to ask what that firm is doing to stay current. “Of course it’s important to consider their reputation, but important to know what they’re doing to keep up with the constant changes in the industry.”

Sapp Design Architects
Street Address:
3750 S. Fremont
Springfield, Mo 65804
Phone: 417-877-9600
Web Address:
Top Executives:
Michael Sapp
Year Founded: 1986
Number of Employees: 20
Product or Service:
Architecture, Interior Design, Master Planning
Feasibility Study, Safety and Security
Sustainable Design, Tornado Safe Room Design