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22 March 2012

What is a Master Builder?

Last month, I said the architect no longer is the Master Builder. Architects still have a valuable place in construction, but that place is much diminished from what it was a hundred and fifty years ago. To appreciate the degree of change, let's look at what things were like many years ago. The following quotation uses the term "master mason", but the meaning is essentially the same as "master builder."
The master mason was in charge. He was architect and builder rolled into one. He often directed a work force numbering into hundreds. But he also worked among his people. He cut stone and installed plumbing. That puzzles us, wed as we are to the notion that academic and manual knowledge don't mix.
John H. Lienhard, Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering and History, University of Houston; my emphasis.