May 2, 2018

This is inspired by Dave’s research and drafts of his upcoming book about the rebirth of the architect in the design-build model.

Plato’s Architect

There is No Harm in Repeating a Good Thing

This blog contains some less famous words from the famous Greek philosopher Plato, who said, “There is no harm in repeating a good thing.” I think you will agree Plato speaks the truth in all of them.

In the Statesman (Politicus in Latin), written in 360 B.C., Plato uses a dialogue between friends to help communicate his ideas of the skills a great leader needed to possess. At two different places, he uses building as an analogy to help communicate his ideas. (The English translation is by Benjamin Jowett.)

STRANGER: Well, and are not arithmetic and certain other kindred arts, merely abstract knowledge, wholly separated from action?


STRANGER: But in the art of carpentering and all other handicrafts, the knowledge of the workman is merged in his work; he not only knows, but he also makes things which previously did not exist.


STRANGER: Then let us divide sciences in general into those which are practical and those which are purely intellectual.

YOUNG SOCRATES: Let us assume these two divisions of science, which is one whole.

STRANGER: You know that the master-builder (actual word used is arkhitekton or architect) does not work himself, but is the ruler of workmen?


STRANGER: He contributes knowledge, not manual labour?


STRANGER: And may therefore be justly said to share in theoretical science?


STRANGER: But he ought not, like the calculator, to regard his functions as at an end when he has formed a judgment;—he must assign to the individual workmen their appropriate task until they have completed the work.


As a design-builder, it is fascinating and validating to see that Plato considered the role of an architect to be not only one of designing (intellectual knowledge) but also one of managing all the trades, while guiding the construction through to completion (practical knowledge).

This is exactly what we do!

It is my prediction that in the next 5–10 years, you will see design-build become the leading method used in the construction of buildings. It just makes too much sense for it not to be, and the results speak for themselves.

I am so proud that NEDC is accountable for all aspects of a project and that we are leading the charge in this movement to get back to the architect of old. As Plato says, “There is no harm in repeating a good thing.”

David Supple is the owner and CEO of New England Design and Construction. He is currently working on writing a book about his experiences and thoughts in the design and construction industry. David is a graduate of Tufts University with a degree in architecture. In California, he trained as an architect for three years, designing, directing, and managing 50- 100,00 square foot renovations. He founded New England Design & Construction in 2005 and became incorporated in 2006, and rapidly expanded the company to servicing the Greater Boston Area.  He is an aspiring comedian but currently he only practices with his wife.

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Published May 2, 2018 | By