Into this breach step Erin Carraher and Ryan Smith of the University of Utah and Peter Delisle of Austin College who offer a timely, sprawling, and comprehensive text that attempts to cross-pollinate these two worlds by defining and explaining various methods and techniques to achieve, as described by Steve van Dyke of LMN in the introduction, the “dynamic orchestration of adaptive, collective design processes that challenge entrenched, contentious project delivery models” (viii). With twenty-one chapters on such topics as “Leadership Effectiveness,” “Task-Relationship Behavior,” and “Communication Fundamentals,” the authors serve up a gigantic smorgasbord of approaches and techniques in almost every possible corner of the collaboration universe, from team development to communication through conflict to “leadership in practice.”
Seemingly attempting to leave no collaborative stone unturned, the text covers project delivery, physical work environments, team building, digital tools, leadership development, and many other topics. The effort is commendable for its sheer ambition to address every zip code of the collaboration universe; it is rich with interviews, project examples, and extensive diagrams that attempt to demonstrate the principles at hand. No matter what your question about collaborative technique, you will probably find a relevant chapter in this guidebook.
In that sense, the book is much stronger as a reference manual or toolkit than a comprehensive theory of architectural collaboration. Reading from front to back feels more like a walk through the business section of your local Barnes & Noble than a coherent explication of a clear theory of design and construction collaboration. The methods of collaboration are far more energetically explored than the reasons to use them in the first place. Chapter 3, ostensibly about “collaborative environments,” covers physical space (colocation rooms), collaborative contracting, distributed team structure, social structures, training, technology tools including BIM planning, leadership approaches, and roles/responsibilities distribution—the head spins. There are useful diagrams (like the BIM execution plan), but many equally simplistic pictograms. I would have much rather seen a detailed plan for a functioning colocation room than four emoji collaborators standing in front of a stylized display screen examining “Conflict B.”