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BY MOHAMMAD SHOEB
DOHA: Professionals such as architects, engineers and project managers working in GCC, including Qatar, should be treated on a par with doctors and lawyers, a prominent architect said here recently.
“On the architectural and engineering side governments should look at the professionals they are hiring as they are. They should treat us the same way with the same liabilities and requirements as they are doing with their doctors and lawyers. That’s the key issue,” Steven W Miller (pictured), Director of the American Institute of Architects (Middle East Chapter) told The Peninsula in an interview on the sidelines of ‘Project Qatar 2013’ that concluded on February 19.
Miller, a senior American architect, added that some leading architectural firms that he worked with in Qatar and other GCC countries few years ago asked him to sign “abusive agreements” and did not treat him well as a professional. However, he did not name any specific company that had allegedly asked him to sign performance bonds and treated him poorly.
“Architects are asked to sign abusive agreements and they are treated poorly. They are not even called at construction sites once the projects are completed,” rued Miller.
Asked about the “abuses” he went through while working for the firms, he did not provide specific answers, and said: “I am part of the American Institute of Architects; I am also at the International Advisory Board. We have explained to many of the government agencies here that you look at architects, engineers, construction and project managers as professionals. We are professionals so treat us like your doctor, your lawyer and your banker.
“We work for you, and you have to treat us accordingly. Not think of us on the other side as contractors. If you want us to be treated as contractors, then do all your work as on the design, build principle, a lot of countries do this way.”
He suggested that in a society that wants to attain educational excellence in the profession of architecture, management and construction, it would be wonderful to have that excellence in one of the universities.
“If that happens, then it would be better understanding at the highest government levels that architects, engineers and project managers are not contractors. They are professionals working for their clients to their best efforts. You have to look at us the same way that we do in the States,” he said.
On the significance of architects in his country, he said: “In the US, we have the same controls and licences and everything as lawyers and doctors. When you graduate from universities you march in the parade as a lawyer, a doctor and an architect. That’s how the treatment is.”
On the issue of performance bonds, he added that it was very difficult for architectural engineers on massive projects to be expected to put up performance bonds and be liable for 10 years after the building is constructed. The insurance companies are finding it impossible to cover.
“I have had a problem in collecting payments even after the work was approved in a timely manner,” he said.
Miller also works as a Senior Vice President for ShapoorjiPallonji, an India-based construction giant.