What is an Architect?

<p>My daughter is thinking about becoming an Architect but she doesn’t know exactly what it entails. Could you define what an Architect is? What does your job entail? Is it a full time desk job? Thanks.</p>

<p>I graduated from UC with a BA in architecture and have been interning for a couple of firms now and still deciding whether to go back for an M.arch at Columbia. </p>

<p>So I’m going to respond based on my little experience, so just keep in my mind that it should not reveal what the entire field is.</p>

<p>Architecture firms vary and it really depends on what your daughter is seeking through architecture. Keep in mind, Architecture doesn’t have to be about designing buildings. As she goes through school, and depending which school, she’ll realize that Architecture is just a medium to do what she wants that still pertains to designing creative solutions. </p>

<p>She could be in an architecture firm designing art objects and in that case it’ll be a lot of designing in a desk and also a lot of hands on building. I know I left art objects too vague so check out the firms:</p>

<p>[Ball-Nogues</a> Studio](<a href=“http://www.ball-nogues.com/]Ball-Nogues”>http://www.ball-nogues.com/)
[predock</a> frane architects](<a href=“http://predockfrane.■■■■■■■■■■■■■/]predock”>http://predockfrane.■■■■■■■■■■■■■/)</p>

<p>And then there are the architectural firms that are all about buildings. There are two types of such firms: corporate offices and the smaller offices.</p>

<p>both are full-time desk job, but the smaller offices will probably be more relaxed, no dress code, and more of a studio setting. I worked in a smaller office and I was just an intern so I did a lot of model building, desk jobs, and going out to do little chores. </p>

<p>but jobs varies and it depends on your daughter’s drive I think. She could be stuck being a drafting monkey where she will be doing all construction documents (the manual for builders), which isn’t that bad since having that ability is a job security.</p>

<p>But if she was a full top architect it means meeting with your clients, getting to know them better, understanding what you could provide them in a creative way, being in a desk designing, going out to the site, going to the city to get permits, and more. </p>

<p>But lets get something out the way: even if its a full time desk job, it’s something different because we’re designing something. Either were designing something or aiding the design, it’s still a pretty fun thing if your daughter enjoys it.</p>

<p>and with that, just make sure your daughter understands that being in this field shouldn’t be about money. It has to be driven by PURE, 110%, passion. It’s a long endeavor, but I can see it being a gratifying one. </p>

<p>I hope that helps!</p>

<p>This is one big question. I’d like to preface this by saying that I am not an architect, I’m a senior in high school, however I’ve worked in two architecture firms this year as part of an internship program so I’ve gotten to know the daily life of architects pretty well. Be wary, however, because architects vary from firm to firm. </p>

<p>An architect is a person who designs buildings. Beyond just the creative, aesthetic aspects of a building (which is what a lot of the public sees as “architecture”), the architect is responsible for space planning, construction drawings, material selection, and a lot of nit-picky details of a building. In many cases the architect also handles construction administration, which is overseeing the contractor while the building gets built. Essentially, an architect can handle anything from bidding on a building design with a client to supervising the building’s construction. </p>

<p>A vast majority of architects do not get to do the “creative” design side of architecture. Instead, most architects handle space planning, materials, etc. This aspect of the job is often done at a computer with an architecture software such as AutoCAD or Revit. However, some architects manage projects, others do creative design work and marketing, and some handle construction. Many architects tend to find a specialty, because it’s nearly impossible to become very good at everything involved in the profession. Typically the larger the firm, the more specialized the architect.</p>

<p>I’ll give you two examples from my two firms; one is a large firm (~50 in the office) and the other is much smaller (7 in the office). The small firm tends to handle small airports, medical offices, etc. The large firm on the other hand, handles entire hospitals, sports stadiums, and other such projects. </p>

<p>In my small firm, we had one designer who also handled most of the marketing and interview work for the firm. Beyond him we had a few project architects/managers who handled a lot of design/planning work on the computer. We also had one guy who specialized in construction management, two interior designers, a recent hire who did a little of everything, and me. In this small firm environment, everyone did a little of everything but there were clearly defined strengths and positions for some people. </p>

<p>I’ll contrast that with a much larger firm. We had a principal who handled most of our marketing, and that principal works with the designer for the project. Our designer would do building concepts, and once the client approved it the building would move on to a whole team of architects. These architects are managed by both a project manager (who handles client interaction, lots of meetings) and a project architect (who handles planning for the building and coordinating the many people involved in building design and planning. This also requires a lot of meetings). This team of 4-5 architects almost exclusively does rendering and planning on the computer, with an occasional meeting to spice up the day. Once this team of architects has finished the full planning of the building, they pass it off to a construction management guy who makes sure that the design team’s vision and plan is carried out properly. </p>

<p>These are just two business models that I’ve experienced, and I’m sure there are many more depending on the size and specialty of the firm. </p>

<p>One important thing to note is that every single person mentioned above attended an architecture school and is a certified “architect”. It is a profession with a wide variety of positions and possibilities. Something that not many people realize is that architecture school caters very heavily to the creative design aspect of the profession, when in reality that is maybe 15% of what a real firm does. </p>

<p>Architecture has numerous paths available, however to answer your original question most positions are full-time desk jobs. I hope this helped in describing what it’s like to practice architecture, and I’m happy to answer any more questions you have whether it’s here or over private message. Good luck to your daughter in her career search!</p>

<p>BTW that was a really good post by adriantada!</p>

<p>Another important job of a building architect is coordinating the design with structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers. The architect needs a good understanding of structural design and behavior so that the designs s/he comes up with are buildable.</p>

<p>I’m a structural engineer and agree with adrian - even though architecture and engineering are typically “desk jobs,” it’s very satisfying to drive around town and see the buildings I’ve worked on. My kids tell their friends, “That’s Mom’s building!” or “That’s Dad’s building!” My husband and I run our firm out of our house. Another advantage to engineering and architecture - you can work for yourself after you’ve gotten a few years of experience.</p>