The designers at Kansas City–based El Dorado believe they are improving on the conventional architect-contractor relationship by cultivating a more collaborative spirit among client, contractor, and architect while maintaining the roles and responsibilities of each. The 13 full-time "Eldoradans," as co-partner and local AIA director Dan Maginn describes them, collaborate with an interior designer and a fine artist. Everyone is expected to spend time in the shop.
The bottom line is that architects should know how to build," says Maginn. "The best way to know how to build is to get in there and do it. We have a pile of misfit details in the back that we call the Boneyard and it is an honored place because it is a record of the fact that we recognized mistakes and improved."
Our "Process" queen Virginia Gardiner currently lives in London, where she is finishing up a master's degree in industrial design engineering. "It has been fun but also tiring," she reports. "I spend a lot of time in the workshop with glue and other stuff on my hands and have recently been casting lots of shapes in horse poo from the horses that trot around Buckingham Palace. But we have to make stuff with a market, so I'm working on a new waterless toilet.