Don’t throw me under the bus.

Protecting one’s behind is common place in the field of architecture and construction especially in the presence of the client. Some professionals do their best to make the right decisions and maintain an honest and open dialog with the client and project team while others make up excuses to try to hide their incompetance.

Recently, I had to draw up a detail for one of the project I am working on and my boss advised me to send it to the GC (general contractor) for comments. I sent the GC an email with the attached detail asking him to review and comment. The email was cc’d to the client, the owner’s rep, and my boss.

The following day, I see an email from the owner’s rep asking the GC if he reviewed the detail I had sent and if he had comments.

The next day, I see an email from the GC answering the email from the owner’s rep. He replied that the detail was not attached with the email. The GC’s response was cc’d to the client, owner’s rep, my boss, and me.


I acted quickly to search for the email I had originally sent along with the detail. Once the original email and attachment was traced, I clicked on the “forward” button and cc’d all names, and included a message that indicated when the original email was sent on a specific date and emphasized the detail was attached with the email and cc’d the same people on the email.

Later that day, my boss explained to me the GC had called him and asked that I refrain from throwing him (GC) under the bus. I was taken aback by the GC’s audacity and responded, “Then HE shouldn’t throw ME under the bus!” My boss agreed.

The nerve of the GC trying to insuate that it was my incompetance that kept him from reviewing the detail. Please! The GC does not realize who he is working with.

Bascially, the GC neglected this project and was not focused on some of the issues that required his attention. Instead of being honest about it and taking responsibility for his lack of action, he tried to use me as a scapegoat. Not cool!

As a matter of professional practice, I will copy certain members of the project team on most emails I send out. It’s important to keep people in the loop of what you are accomplishing. It’s good practice because your boss will see how well you are doing in managing the project and team; and the client will be pleased that you are meeting project goals and deadlines.

If you’re lucky, your boss or supervisor will come to your defense (that is if he or she reads your emails at all), or if your boss has confidence in your abiltiies, your boss will let you take care of it. This current boss is not quick to come to my defense but I have had bosses who were and it helped to build my confidence.

I’m not suggesting that all GC’s are incompetant and conniving; and this is one example and experience of many that I have had with GC’s. I’ve met good ones who I’d like work with again, and there are GC’s I hope to never see again. Architects are also capable of scapegoating and lying but that’s for another post.


3 thoughts on “Don’t throw me under the bus.

  1. Bonjour la femme,

    Of course you should not have been thrown under the bus. That particular GC was not being professional and probably thought he could get away with it. Touche on your comeback!

    All construction projects require a very collaborative effort in order to pull off a first class project on time and within budget. It is important that we all respect each others efforts in the process whether you are the Developer, Architect, CM/GC or Trade Subcontractor.

    I have been a Stone Contractor going back to the 70’s in NYC. As you said, there are those individuals that made the projects we were working on a memorable experience and there are those that I would rather forget. However, each one was a valuable learning experience.

    By the way, thanks for following me on twitter. I am @stone_expert.

    • Thank you Ed for taking the time to visit my blog. I completely agree with you that what we do is a collaborative effort and when we all work together, we can absolutely have a project we can all be proud of.

      The architecture and construction industry is still a male dominated field, and as a female architect, I know that I will at times face challenges where I will have to put the GC in their place should they try to behave unprofessionally with regard to how I manage the project.

  2. It sounds like a lot of people getting squashed by the bus. I understand that no one likes to end up with tire tracks on their back, but believe me it happens to all of us. Even General Contractors. I have been a GC for 25+ years. I have had the pleasure and sometimes displeasure of working with all types of owners, designers and architects. My experience over the years has brought me to conclude that there is a common thread amongst architects. They never lilke to be told that they are wrong. They overdesign for the client’s budget. They typically deliver their plans late. NEVER

    I feel that architects often have trouble putting themselves in the contractor’s shoes. The contractor assumes large financial risks and has to deal with finicky clients,
    ill-equipped subcontractors and egotistical architects. All the while trying to keep the project moving forward and to keep cash flow going for employees and their families. Construction work is similar to design work except add in 100 degree plus temperatures, fighting traffic at 5:00am to start work at 7:00am, eating a mouth full of saw dust, blowing dirt, and inhaling chemicals from the current next greatest material invention. So you may have to excuse us sometimes if we seem a little bit liess than cheerful.

    I do agree with your point about not getting thrown under the bus. That is not good for anyone in our shared profession. Believe me, I have been thrown under the bus by architects so many times I have come to count on it. Again, architects never like to be perceived as being wrong. Especially in front of the client and will scratch their way out of situations trying to save face. Seen it…..been there….

    There are very few architects that have the field experience necessary to appreciate the construction site process. Few architects that I know have ever worked on a construction site. Again, lack of appreciate for how things really work. I appreciate true artistic architecture and the effort that goes into unique design.

    In closing, I say wear the contractor’s shoes for awhile and let me know how they fit after 30 years.

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