Up Front: What is Architecture?
This psychological tendency to label buildings by their cladding puts extra onus on the people involved to make sure that the finished building works well. This includes the designers, as well as the sales people, material producers and contractors. If something goes wrong with a building's "skin," the blame game starts and specialty products are the easiest targets. They are often proprietary systems with specific manufacturers who hopefully (the lawyers pray) have deep pockets.
Although there may be a few jerks around who really do not care whether their work is any good or not (as long as they get paid) almost everyone I've dealt with in my 30-plus years in construction intends to produce a good building. They know full well that good work produces more business and bad work does the opposite.
In this age of cultural diversity and tight budgets, communications are critical-it's "the beginning of understanding," as Westinghouse used to say. Knowing what is expected is paramount, as unrealized expectations are the primary cause of suffering.
Thus, it behooves us all to try to work as a team and to make sure that we all know what is expected. This includes expressing what you do know to others and being smart enough to know the right questions to ask to ferret out missing information. The response "Gosh, I didn't know that" isn't very defensible.
Sometimes, I hear the excuse that "We build to code and that's good enough." Not necessarily true. Codes are minimums and what matters is that the walls work, not just that they are legal. This is why architects exist-to put the building in context. With the exception of tract housing and certain canned hotel designs, few buildings are exactly alike and must be designed on their own merits-at least they need to fit onto the site. One of the reasons that buildings these days seem to be having more and more problems is architects fees are too low. Considering the effort and liability in practicing architecture, it's a lousy way to make a buck.
Money is particularly an issue with the building's skin, which is any building's primary reason for existence: A durable wall and roof is a lot more important than some trendy interior material that won't be "cool" next year. So, put the money into good "architecture," especially the walls. There needs to be more money and effort spent on getting the design, materials and contracting done right up front.