What Does an Architect Do?

What Does an Architect Do? Main Roles of Architects

Avatar
Updated on

If you ask a group of architects what they do, you’ll get a wide range of responses. Then, if you return the next day, you will receive yet another set of conflicting responses. So, what does an architect do?

The daily tasks of an architect can vary widely from one assignment to the next.  One of the best things about architecture as a career is the wide variety of options available based on your unique traits, interests, talents, and abilities. Likewise, an architect’s duties vary greatly depending on the stage of a building’s design process.

When you’re an architect, you can unleash your creativity. Every structure is unique. Each project is different. Read this article to learn about an architect’s many functions and duties.

Who is an Architect?

First, architecture is an art and science. An architect is a trained expert in the art and science of building design and has the authority to secure building permits from the relevant government agencies.

Therefore, if a homeowner wants to build a new house or make additions to an existing one, they must hire an architect to oversee the entire design process from start to finish.

white ruler on white paper

Business managers frequently rely on architect consultants for advice on building design, as this is one of the consultant’s primary areas of expertise.

For instance, a manager in the manufacturing sector who has to install new equipment may speak with an architect to find out how to best enhance the layout of their business.

Designing and constructing your own home is difficult but ultimately fulfilling. However, your project is more likely to succeed if you work with a professional architect who can offer academic and hands-on assistance.

What Does an Architect Do?

Structures, including workplaces, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and sports arenas, are all under the architect’s scope. They often work in an office, although site visits, planning departments, and municipal governments are part of the job.

In addition, civil engineers collaborate closely with architects to ensure the integrity and compliance of built projects. Here are some important roles of an architect;

1. Pre-Design and Planning

A skilled designer will do a ton of prep work, including research, consultation, and analysis, to ensure they’re meeting the project’s needs before they start designing.

beam design-printed paper on desk

When an architect is given a project to work on, here are the first steps:

  • Review project goals in light of your needs, desires, and project goals.
  • Examine your project’s proposed budget and timetable.
  • Third, identify any agency approvals or regulations that may impact the project.
  • Fourth, create a brief detailing the project’s budget, scope, timelines, and additional customer requirements.
  • Finally, determine the site’s current conditions and the supplies they have access to or could use.

This first phase entails the architect and homeowner meeting one-on-one so the architect can comprehend the client’s exact wants following in-depth conversations. The architect should explain the scope of the work, the level of involvement in site visits, and the time limit needed for the work to be completed.

2. Design Buildings

An architect’s major responsibility is to design a building or structure that fulfills the client’s needs while also satisfying their aesthetic preferences. Here are some roles of an architect in design;

  • Consider daylighting, views, noise, topography, shade, wind for natural cross ventilation, and other site elements as you analyze the area and its current conditions.
  • Create design ideas based on the project’s objectives for your review.
  • Integrate numerous building systems, components, and finishes to create a design.
  • Control consultants like surveyors, lighting consultants, and structural engineers.

The design process can be just sitting around making beautiful images using the best architecture pens, colored pencils, and mechanical pencils or fiddling with computer software on architecture rendering computers to create construction models. However, this represents a tiny portion of the work.

drafting instruments on top of table

An architect may spend much time planning what they will build. First, they will create a design concept or a unifying idea based on the research they did during the pre-design process. Then, they develop as they think about and draw connections between the collected data.

An architect will test various ideas during the preliminary design phase against the project specifications to ascertain what functions well and does not.

They will create models and drawings, including sketches and diagrams, to begin capturing and testing their ideas. Although much of it is done by hand, some may be done on a computer.

3. Design Development and Documentation

Understanding that a significant portion of the project is devoted to documentation is critical. It is not about experimenting with presentations and software.

person holding pencil near laptop computer

It involves figuring out how the building is put together, researching products and materials, and creating drawings that demonstrate things like tiling layouts and stair designs.

  • If necessary, assist you in the planning review procedure with architectural review boards or other neighborhood organizations.
  • Help get the necessary permits, reviews of building codes, and approvals in place before work can begin.
  • Verify the project complies with applicable building codes in the area.
  • The architect will provide presentation drawings, concept sketches, and a preliminary layout to the homeowner’s specifications.
  • Initial sketches or CAD (Computer-Aided Design) drawings are used to create the concept drawings. Then, the architect may revise the plans until the homeowner is satisfied with a practical layout.
  • The architect must provide the local development authority with ammonia printouts of all architectural drawings for the proposal to be sanctioned and approved.

The structural engineer will design the building’s structure and reinforcing features once the architect has completed the layouts and elevations, taking into account all the load factors to ensure the building’s safety.

4. Finishing the Work Drawings

Once the project is approved, the architect is responsible for providing construction drawings. These will include diagrams that show the details of the foundation, the brickwork, the placement and dimensions of the doors and windows, the plumbing and electrical layouts, the specifications of the materials used, and other things.

Some architects take it a step further and work as interior architects, creating and detailing a home’s interior. If the project is large in scope, landscape architects may also be used to plan the site’s landscape.

5. Co-ordination of the Contractors

man in red jacket and black pants walking on gray concrete stairs

Every stage of the home’s construction is crucial for the architect. Multiple contractors are hired for the construction of the building, including civil work, plumbing, flooring, electrical work, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning).

The architect often visits the construction site to monitor the progress, explain the working drawings to the contractors, and guarantee high-quality work. If architects identify any building defects, the contractors should fix them.

Different Types of Architects and What They Do

Just like there are different types of architecture, there are different types of architects with different roles. Here are some of the common ones;

1. Residential Architect

Standardization that followed the industrial revolution in the last century has made it such that most houses seem the same from the outside. However, certain areas continue to benefit from having unique homes, and here is where residential architects thrive.

residential house

Customers interested in creating a unique home plan are their main focus. To begin designing the plans, layouts, and elevations, they must consider the client’s space and functionality needs. They estimate labor and material expenses and the length of time required to finish the building.

2. Commercial Architect

A well-planned building is not only practical but also visually beautiful, and the functionality varies depending on the kind of space being crafted. For example, commercial and public buildings require a smooth, self-directing circulation system inundation to provide possible service to the building’s users.

city building during daytime

For instance, a well-planned shopping center makes it simple for customers to navigate and get what they need without getting lost or moving too quickly. A commercial architect’s job is to make things like that possible.

Their commercial construction expertise requires a blend of engineering, building, and design talents. Understanding construction expenses, safety standards, and codes are also essential.

3. Interior Designer

Interior designers have a distinct but essential role in large-scale projects, as their work directly affects the daily lives of the building’s occupants.

orange and black sofa with throw pillows

Interior designers plan the layout of space down to the electrical outlets and furnishings, taking into account the wishes of the customer and the requirements of the building’s structural engineers and fire marshal.

The Council for Interior Design Qualification in North America is one of the certification bodies specifically for interior designers.

4. Green Design Architect

Green design architects are in high demand due to the importance of their work in light of the recent shifts in climate and the rapid decline of non-renewable energy sources.

building scale model

Professionals in the field of “Green Design” create structures that are both sustainable and energy-efficient to run. They constantly strive to develop efficient, environmentally friendly green design strategies. These architects must be informed about aerodynamics, sunlight, shade, and material qualities.

5. Landscape Architect

Parks, gardens, and other outdoor areas, as well as the buildings and features found inside, are the specialty of landscape architects. Skills in areas such as stormwater management, planting design, and sustainability planning are essential for landscape architects.

Landscape building

Central Park in New York City was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, credited with coining the term “landscape architect.” Today, organizations like the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Landscape Institute in the U.K. provides credentials to landscape architects.

The significance of landscape architecture is only increasing as the emphasis on green spaces in twenty-first-century urban planning increases.

6. Urban Designer

Urban design is a vast field that incorporates various specializations, including landscape architecture, building architecture, and green design. It focuses on local, regional, and metropolitan levels.

pathway between high rise buildings

In urban planning, the architect is responsible for the layout of streets, sidewalks, and other public spaces that connect buildings. Thus, they contribute to the city’s structure and sense of order.

7. Industrial Architect

In some cases, the efficiency of a facility will depend on the industrial building design. Industrial architects are experts at providing buildings with the proper shell to facilitate the smooth operation of the manufacturing activity.

Industrial building

They thoroughly know the various manufacturing procedures and use them to create practical and effective structures to house these operations.

8. Technical Architect

Technical architects are in charge of the specifics of a building’s planning, ensuring it can be built and will work. Technical architects create construction drawings and take part in project management.

An architect working on a draft with a pencil and ruler

The separation of the design and technical tasks may not be necessary for smaller projects, but technical architects are typically required for bigger projects like office buildings.

Civil Engineer Roles Vs. Architect Roles

Civil engineers and architects both play important roles in the process of developing building plans and designs.

While civil engineer roles will be concerned with the building’s structural integrity and ability to withstand normal use and harsh weather, an architect will give special attention to the building’s aesthetics and the interaction between its form and function.

white printer paper with black pencil

To make the architect’s vision a reality, the civil engineer will examine and assess the structural integrity of the architect’s design and find ways to make the building design feasible by making changes or revisions.

Since their respective fields of expertise occasionally overlap, civil engineers and architects frequently collaborate. A building project will be more successful and effective if the two professions get along well.

Architect Roles Vs. Architectural Designer Roles

An architect is a qualified professional who has passed the NCARB’s (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards) registration test, a difficult seven-part examination.

brown pencil on white printing paper

An architectural designer has not passed the registration exam and is not a qualified architect. Do not confuse an architectural designer with a design architect who has passed the architectural registration exam and is a licensed architect but chooses to focus solely on the design phase of a project while delegating the construction to another architect.

What Does the Workplace of an Architect Like?

Due to the range of roles, architects have numerous workplaces and different incomes. The majority of the design work will be completed in an office.

Still, there will also be site inspections, meetings with local government and planning departments, and visits to clients’ workplaces.

person using black laptop computer

An architect may work from their own office, occasionally from home, or several business offices, depending on whether they are a freelancer or an employee of a corporation. International conferences, placements, and meetings may be a part of the job.

Conclusion

As you can see, an architect’s duties range widely, from working on a new site to meeting with a client, working with other consultants, documenting and sketching, producing presentation drawings, collaborating with builders, or doing administrative duties.

As a profession, architecture offers a wide range of chances for skills and interest-based careers. Finding the components of architecture and the architectural process that you enjoy, are interested in, and can become truly outstanding at is a part of your path as an architectural student and practitioner.

Photo of author

About the author

Jacky Chou

Jacky Chou is an electrical engineer turned marketer. He is the founder of Indexsy, Far & Away, Laurel & Wolf, a couple FBA businesses , and about 40 affiliate sites. He is a proud native of Vancouver, BC, who has been featured on Entrepreneur.com, Forbes, Oberlo and GoDaddy.