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What is an architech?

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October 22, 2007 3:22AM

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.


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