What is an architech?
People need places in which to live, work, play, learn, worship,
meet, govern, shop, and eat. These places may be private or public;
indoors or outdoors; or rooms, buildings, or complexes, and
together, they make up neighborhoods, towns, suburbs, and cities.
Architects-licensed professionals trained in the art and science of
building design-transform these needs into concepts and then
develop the concepts into images and plans of buildings that can be
constructed by others.
Architects design the overall aesthetic and look of
buildings and other structures, but the design of a building
involves far more than its appearance. Buildings also must be
functional, safe, and economical and must suit the needs of the
people who use them. Architects consider all these factors when
they design buildings and other structures.
Architects provide professional services to individuals and
organizations planning a construction project. They may be involved
in all phases of development, from the initial discussion with the
client through the entire construction process. Their duties
require specific skills-designing, engineering, managing,
supervising, and communicating with clients and builders.
Architects spend a great deal of time explaining their ideas to
clients, construction contractors, and others. Successful
architects must be able to communicate their unique vision
The architect and client discuss the objectives, requirements,
and budget of a project. In some cases, architects provide various
predesign services-conducting feasibility and environmental impact
studies, selecting a site, or specifying the requirements the
design must meet. For example, they may determine space
requirements by researching the numbers and types of potential
users of a building. The architect then prepares drawings and a
report presenting ideas for the client to review.
After discussing and agreeing on the initial proposal,
architects develop final construction plans that show the
building's appearance and details for its construction.
Accompanying these plans are drawings of the structural system;
air-conditioning, heating, and ventilating systems; electrical
systems; communications systems; plumbing; and, possibly, site and
landscape plans. The plans also specify the building materials and,
in some cases, the interior furnishings. In developing designs,
architects follow building codes, zoning laws, fire regulations,
and other ordinances, such as those requiring easy access by
disabled persons. Throughout the planning stage, they make
necessary changes. Computer-aided design and drafting (CADD)
technology has replaced traditional paper and pencil as the most
common method for creating design and construction drawings.
Continual revision of plans on the basis of client needs and budget
constraints is often necessary.
Architects may also assist clients in obtaining construction
bids, selecting contractors, and negotiating construction
contracts. As construction proceeds, they may visit building sites
to make sure that contractors follow the design, adhere to the
schedule, use the specified materials, and meet work quality
standards. The job is not complete until all construction is
finished, required tests are conducted, and construction costs are
paid. Sometimes, architects also provide postconstruction services,
such as facilities management. They advise on energy efficiency
measures, evaluate how well the building design adapts to the needs
of occupants, and make necessary improvements.
Architects design a wide variety of buildings, such as office
and apartment buildings, schools, churches, factories, hospitals,
houses, and airport terminals. They also design complexes such as
urban centers, college campuses, industrial parks, and entire
communities. In addition, they may advise on the selection of
building sites, prepare cost analysis and land-use studies, and do
long-range planning for land development.
Architects sometimes specialize in one phase of work. Some
specialize in the design of one type of building-for example,
hospitals, schools, or housing. Others focus on planning and
predesign services or construction management and do minimal design
work. They often work with engineers, urban planners, interior
designers, landscape architects, and other professionals. In fact,
architects spend a great deal of their time coordinating
information from, and the work of, others engaged in the same
project. Many architects-particularly at larger firms-use the
Internet and e-mail to update designs and communicate changes
efficiently. Architects also use the Internet to research product
specifications and government regulations.