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Template:Other uses Template:Infobox Occupation An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings, and is licensed to practice architecture. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings, that have as their principal purpose human occupancy or use.[1] Etymologically, architect derives from the Latin architectus, itself derived from the Greek arkhitekton (arkhi-, chief + tekton, builder), i.e. chief builder.[2]

Professionally, an architect's decisions affect public safety, and thus an architect must undergo specialized training consisting of advanced education and a practicum (or internship) for practical experience to earn a license to practice architecture. The practical, technical, and academic requirements for becoming an architect vary by jurisdiction (see below).

The terms architect and architecture are also used in the disciplines of information technology (for example a software architect), naval architecture and landscape architecture. In most of the world's jurisdictions, the professional and commercial uses of the term "architect", outside of the etymologic variants noted, is legally protected.

Architects in practice[]

The practice of architecture involves offering or rendering services that include pre-design services, programming, planning, providing designs, drawings, specifications and other technical submissions, the administration of construction contracts and the co-ordination of any elements of technical submissions prepared by others (such as by engineers).[3]

Architecture is a business in which technical knowledge, management, and an understanding of business are as important as design. An architect accepts a commission from a client. The commission might involve preparing feasibility reports, building audits, the design of a building or of several buildings, structures, and the spaces among them. The architect participates in developing the requirements the client wants in the building. Throughout the project (planning to occupancy), the architect co-ordinates a design team. Structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers and other specialists, are hired by the client or the architect, who must ensure that the work is co-ordinated to construct the design.

An architect must understand building and operational codes, the construction methods available to the builder in constructing a client's building and structures, and the desired results with the actual costs and construction schedule limits. Work time is usually a standard work week, but when working towards a deadline the architect often works long hours. Architects are office-based professionals, but the work usually includes visiting clients and regular visits to job sites.

Design role[]

The architect hired by a client is responsible for creating a design concept that meets the requirements of that client and provides a facility suitable to the required use. In that effort, the architect must meet with and question the client [extensively] to ascertain all the requirements and nuances of the planned project. This information, called a "program", is essential to producing a project that meets all the needs and desires of the owner—it is a guide for the architect in creating the design concept.

Architects deal with local and federal jurisdictions about regulations and building codes. The architect might need to comply with local planning and zoning laws, such as required setbacks, height limitations, parking requirements, transparency requirements (windows), and land use. Some established jurisdictions require adherence to design and historic preservation guidelines.

Usually the architect will create several design concepts with various options, different appearance and other variations, for the owner's selection. Most projects do have several possible solutions, but it is the owner's decision as to which will be built. There could be a period of modifying the options to hone in on the very best solution possible. In the end there is a design concept that is set and approved in writing by the owner which becomes the basis for construction.

Documentation role[]

The architect has the task and responsibility to document the design concept in such manner as to provide detailed drawings and information used by the various contractors, directly. In this, there is a transition that is required to convert design language to construction terms and information, directions and instructions. This work requires a large portion of the professional's fee and extensive time for production. The higher the quality of these documents the more the construction will be enabled and facilitated. This is work that is unavoidable and most necessary.

In addition, the working drawings must be accompanied by suitable construction specifications. The two sets of documents must be closely coordinated, supplementary and complementary, so as to be inseparable [i.e., the project cannot be built using just one set of the documents]. The reason for this is that some information is easily [and better] depicted graphically, while other data is incapable of being depicted and must be produced in written form.

Architects prepare the technical or "working" documents (construction drawings and specifications), usually coordinated with and supplemented by the work of a variety of disciplines [i.e., with varied expertise like mechanical, plumbing, electrical, civil, structural, etc.] engineers for the building services and that are filed for obtaining permits (development and building permits) that require compliance with building, seismic, and relevant federal and local regulations. These construction drawings and specifications are also used for pricing the work, and for construction.

Construction role[]

Architects typically put projects to tender on behalf of their clients, advise on the award of the project to a general contractor, and review the progress of the work during construction. They typically review subcontractor shop drawings and other submittals, prepare and issue site instructions, and provide construction contract administration and Certificates for Payment to the contractor (see also Design-bid-build). In many jurisdictions, mandatory certification or assurance of the work is required.

Depending on the client's needs and the jurisdiction's requirements, the spectrum of the architect's services may be extensive (detailed document preparation and construction review) or less inclusive (such as allowing a contractor to exercise considerable design-build functions). With very large, complex projects, an independent construction manager is sometimes hired to assist in design and to manage construction. In the United Kingdom and other countries, a quantity surveyor is often part of the team to provide cost consulting.

Alternate practice and specializations[]

Recent decades have seen the rise of specializations within the profession. Many architects and architectural firms focus on certain project types (for example, health care, retail, public housing), technological expertise or project delivery methods. Some architects specialize as building code, building envelope, sustainable design, historic preservation, accessibility and other forms of specialist consultants.

Many architects elect to move into real estate (property) development, corporate facilities planning, project management, construction management, interior design or other related fields.

Professional requirements[]

Although there are variations from place to place, in most of the world architects are required to register with the appropriate jurisdiction. To do so, architects are typically required to meet three common requirements: education, experience, and examination.

Educational requirements generally consist of university degree in architecture. The experience requirement for degreed candidates is usually satisfied by a practicum or internship (usually two to three years, depending on jurisdiction). Finally, a Registration Examination or a series of exams is required prior to licensure.

Professionals engaged in the design and supervision of construction projects prior to the late 19th century were not necessarily trained in a separate architecture program in an academic setting. Instead, they often trained under established architects. Prior to modern times, there was no distinction between architects, engineers and often artists, and the title used varied depending on geographical location. They often carried the title of master builder, or surveyor, after serving a number of years as an apprentice (such as Sir Christopher Wren). The formal study of architecture in academic institutions played a pivotal role in the development of the profession as a whole, serving as a focal point for advances in architectural technology and theory.

Professional Title Distinctions[]

According to the American Institute of Architects[4], titles and job descriptions within American architectural offices might be as follows:

  • Senior Principal / Partner: Typically an owner or majority shareholder of the firm; may be the founder; titles may include president, chief executive officer, or managing principal/partner.
  • Mid-level Principal / Partner: Principal or partner; titles may include executive or senior vice president.
  • Junior Principal / Partner: Recently made a partner or principal of the firm; title may include vice president.
  • Department head / Senior Manager: Senior management architect or non-registered graduate; responsible for major department(s) or functions; reports to a principal or partner.
  • Project Manager: Licensed architect, or non-registered graduate with more than 10 years of experience; has overall project management responsibility for a variety of projects or project teams, including client contact, scheduling, and budgeting.
  • Senior Architect / Designer: Licensed architect, or non-registered graduate with more than 10 years of experience; has a design or technical focus and is responsible for significant project activities.
  • Architect / Designer III: Licensed architect or non-registered graduate with 8–10 years of experience; responsible for significant aspects of projects.
  • Architect / Designer II: Licensed architect or non-registered graduate with 6–8 years of experience, responsible for daily design or technical development of projects.
  • Architect / Designer I: Recently licensed architect or non-registered graduate with 3–5 years of experience; responsible for particular

parts of a project within parameters set by others.

  • Intern architect: Unlicensed architecture school graduate in first three years of internship; develops design or technical solutions under supervision of an architect.


Earnings for architects range widely, depending on where and how they work. Salaries also vary depending on the size and location of the practice. Earnings have traditionally been dependent on the local economic conditions but, with rapid globalization, this is becoming less of a factor for larger international firms. Some architects become real estate (property) developers or develop specialized roles where they can earn a significantly higher income than the industry median.

Professional organizations[]

Refer to the international list of professional architecture organizations for groups created to promote career and business development in architecture. A wide variety of prizes are awarded to architects to acknowledge superior buildings, structures and professional careers.

Prizes and awards[]

The most lucrative award an architect can receive is the Pritzker Prize, sometimes termed the "Nobel Prize for architecture." Other prestigious architectural awards are the Alvar Aalto Medal (Finland) and the Carlsberg Architecture Prize (Denmark). Other awards for excellence in architecture are given by national professional associations such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Architects in Britain who have made contributions to the profession through design excellence or architectural education, or have in some other way advanced the profession, are elected Fellows of the Royal Institute of British Architects and can write FRIBA after their name if they feel so inclined. Architects in the USA who have made contributions to the profession through design excellence or architectural education, or have in some other way advanced the profession, are elected Fellows of the American Institute of Architects and can write FAIA after their name.

See also[]


  • Architectural designer
  • Architectural drawing
  • Architectural engineering
  • Architectural technologist
  • Building officials
  • Construction engineering
  • Civil engineering
  • Construction manager
  • Division of the State Architect
  • Earthquake engineering
  • History of architecture
  • International Building Code
  • Landscape architect
  • List of notable architects
  • List of architects of supertall buildings
  • Real Estate (Property) Developer
  • Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
  • Starchitect
  • Structural engineering
  • Turnkey
  • Urban designer
  • Urban planner

References[] {{}}

External links[]


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