When you hear the word “architect” you may picture someone working at a drafting table or wearing a hard hat at a construction site, but what do they really do? In this article, we’re going to clear the air on what exactly a job in architecture looks like. Some of you may think it’s similar to an engineer, but in fact, it’s quite different! If you’ve ever thought about studying architecture, or just want a better idea of what they do, check out this article!
Architect as Conductor
The primary role of practicing architects is similar to musical conductors, but for buildings. The conductor knows what each of the instruments should be playing, but they may not be a master at each individual instrument. In a way, architects have to be a “jack of all trades.” On top of having an understanding of code, architects must be familiar with all aspects of the project like HVAC, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and details. They serve as the middleman between the client and the contractor. It is their job to break everything down and make sure everyone is on the same page.
Although there are parts of engineering that architects can do, they don’t necessarily work on the structural engineering of the building. Unless they are more on the technical track, they probably won’t work on the structural engineering for a building because it is a liability. Instead, they will hire a sub-consultant like a structural engineer or a civil engineer to advise them on what to do. From there, the architect becomes the conductor to make sure that all parts of the team work together and make sense for the client.
When construction starts, it is the architect’s job to make sure the contractor is adhering to what has been designed and drawn. The drawings the Architects create communicate the design intent to the contractor. The contractor is then obligated to build to that design intent. Sometimes things can get overlooked on a drawing, so it is the architect’s responsibility to be on-site and point out certain details to try and make the process as smooth as possible.
With all of that said, an architect really has two main responsibilities:
1. Do the design. Make sure that everything makes sense from a functional and aesthetic point of view
2. Coordinate all of the sub-consultants. Make sure that all of the teams involved are on the same page and their respective designs work together.
Hopefully, this answered some of your questions on what architects really do. If there are still some things you’re not sure of, leave a question in the comments, we would love to hear from you! Be sure to check out our tutorials so you can learn some skills architects use! And check out our study resources if you’re on the path to becoming an architect yourself!