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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An architect at work, 1893.
Names Architect
Activity sectors
Civil engineering
Project management
Urban planning
Interior design
Visual arts
Competencies Engineering, technical knowledge, building design, planning and management skills
Education required
See professional requirements

An architect is a person who plans, designs, and reviews the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to provide services in connection with the design 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, which derives from the Greek (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. Practical, technical, and academic requirements for becoming an architect vary by jurisdiction.

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In part two of the architecture short course we’ll be taking the design concept presented in part one and begin converting it into architecture by designing the floor plan and making decisions about form, space, and order. Abstraction allows us to imagine how our work might be experienced, or viewed absent a physical reality. Concepts are abstractions of reality, and it’s where we started in part one. But abstract ideas aren’t architecture. The first step in making the concept real – for me - is to sketch a floor plan and then give that plan a three-dimensional form. A floor plan is a quick way of describing the hierarchy and relationship of spaces and it begins fixing their real physical dimensions and shapes. Throughout the design process architects must continually consider the design in both the plan, or overhead view, and the sectional, or volumetric view. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to begin by sketching a plan and then constructing a three-dimensional version of that plan either in model form or by sketching. Here you can see the sketches from the early phase of our Squid Cove project. Things always begin this way, it’s really messy. There are many ideas that we must then edit into a coherent primitive building. To get here, we’ve already discussed in the previous video the best general area on the site to build and the approximate size of the structure. This, you’ll recall, is tied to the client’s needs and their budget. From that point, I begin roughly sketching over the site plan allocating spaces where they make sense. The spaces at this point are nothing more than a diagram, small squares on a page and many architects refer to this as a bubble diagram. The bubbles represent the rough size of the rooms and each has specific adjacency requirements. For example, the master bedroom will want to have a dressing area and a bathroom nearby. The living room wants to be near the dining and kitchen, and so forth. Referring back to the encampment concept I’ve intentionally divided the building footprint among smaller simple building volumes positioned on the site. I begin by dividing public and private spaces and choosing where to locate each, then I start tracing circulation pathways that link the two together. Here’s a basic public-private diagram we started with. The public spaces are central, the private are positioned above and below on the topography and each has their own unique aspect. I want to also use these structures as wind screens to create a variety of micro-climates the client can use at different times depending on the weather. So, no matter which direction the wind is blowing from, the building will buffer it. They’re also good devices for capturing and reflecting natural light. To locate the structures and keep them closely knitted to the topography, I began developing a series of stepped terraces in the landscape. This helped to establish transition zones and small plinths that tied the camps to the landform. These also extended the perception of interior space and the indoor footprint as well as created an indoor-outdoor connection. Notice the plan layouts start out as general and very loose, I’m not placing every door and window, I certainly don’t have the toilet locations decided or the furniture layout determined. I’m starting with basic orientations, where is the entry, or where do I want glass and where do I want wall? I know, for example, that I want the living room to be thrust into the view and the barn to be located uphill positioned to receive the cars. The master probably wants to feel secluded and private. So, you’ll note in the diagram that there’s one color for public spaces, and one for private spaces and one for circulation and support spaces things like bathrooms, stairs, and closets. Now, if you’re not able to achieve this level of clarity in your diagram at this early stage, it’s a sign that you to keep editing. The plan layouts are showing some clarity now and suggesting a formal language. What I’m noticing is a common series of gestures these sort of interlocking l-shapes. The ells have both sheltering and open qualities. One side protects and shields while the other invites and expands outward. Placing these at various points on the site allows us to carefully control the experience of the occupant. We can invite the sun, create privacy, block wind, or welcome a view for example. Now once we have some basic plan layouts, we need to make some decisions about form. When we speak about form we’re referring not only to a building’s shape but also to its size, the scale, its color, and texture; basically, all the visual properties of an object. Form has a direct relationship to space in that it influences both interior and exterior rooms. Form is perhaps the most obvious and outward expression of our perception of architecture. In many ways it’s like an icon, it’s what we think of when we imagine a building. For example, the gable – at least in Western culture - is an iconic architectural form associated with home. The way a building looks is known to architects as its formal language and, much like developing a concept, creating one isn’t a singular act. We’ll test various forms over the course of our early design and as you might imagine the way architects choose to design a building’s form and how it shapes space is very personal. Now, it would be difficult to explain precisely how architects do this in this short course so I’ll keep it brief and basic and list the resources in the description for you to investigate further. You’ve probably heard the quote from the architect Louis Sullivan, often distilled to just its essence, “form follows function.” Certainly, this is one relatively compelling, modern idea on how we might design a building’s form, but it doesn’t even come close to capturing the near infinite options we have at our disposal. In addition to function, form can be developed as a response to context; for example the climate, the site conditions, local constraints as well as the cultural context or local building traditions. Form could be a result of the building’s size, how big or small it is, and also the result of the materials we choose to make it from. The laws of physics would tell us that a steel and glass structure must have different formal properties than a concrete structure for example. A building’s form is an important signifier of what it is and what we can expect it to be in a given context. A cathedral, for example, has a distinctive form. The massive scale and size of the cathedral and its spire were intentional cues that conveyed the idea that – at least at the time - nothing was more important than the church’s power in society. This was made manifest in the architecture through an intentional distortion of the building’s form and scale. It was designed to make us feel small and insignificant standing there in the nave. Likewise, the spire was designed to be visible from all parts of the town; it was the architecture’s form that made the abstract concepts real. Looking more closely, its walls were made of stone, the properties of which were required structural support and lateral bracing and thus the buttress was deployed to resist the tendency for the walls to bow outward; a material formal idea. Now, we may disagree whether these were the appropriate materials to use, or the proper scale, but the conceptual ideas quite obviously influenced the shape and formal language of the architecture. Now, there is a danger in fixing a building’s form too early in the design process, it can short circuit a deeper exploration of ideas and potential relationships. One way to resist this is by using only the loosest of building forms to represent form in a model for example. I’ll use objects like blocks, or small strips of chipboard bent into l-shapes to visualize primitive forms. These don’t lock me into any one particular building shape. You can use these to overlay on sketched plan ideas to suggest how spaces can be related to each other and they’re anonymous enough to be interpreted into many different formal directions as you develop the design. Now, it’s easy to fall in love with a process of highly expressive, idiosyncratic form-making. However, crafting beautiful objects while ignoring the tectonics or the physical experience of space – how it actually feels to be there - doesn’t necessarily make good architecture. To help you avoid designing only the form or image of a building and prioritizing it above utility or function I recommend you imagine the experience of a place. Narrate it in terms of quality of light, or arrival, or the soundscape, or the proportion of it to the subject, to the landscape or other structures, or smells even. I find thinking early about a building’s materials and its relationship to natural light sets it in real human terms and it imbues the work with meaning and a sensory experience beyond our sense of sight. You might lay out paths of travel on the site. Begin with the arrival, then the entry. Consider how one moves through a place. Can the architecture enhance that experience, enrich it? Is it abrupt, or calming, disorienting, or deceptive? Uplifting? Constricting, sheltering, or open? Exposed? Think about the scale of spaces, compression and release, darkness and light. Here, we began by looking to the local vernacular saltwater farms for inspiration. Using simple barn-like extruded gables is one of the simplest of forms but we can achieve some fairly complex and interesting spatial relationships from the spaces these individual forms create between them. In New England, there’s a building organization typology known as the Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn and it was historically used to link farm structures together for convenience and to create the kind of micro-climates we discussed earlier. Now, I’m counting on these simple forms to create complex, and interesting spaces. Functionally, the gable sheds water equally to either side of the long axis and it’s structurally efficient, but it is symmetrical and has a strong axis of orientation so we have to keep this in mind as we consider the interior spaces. Although it hints at the vernacular building type, I’m planning to treat the interior space and the exterior cladding in a way that will connote a much more contemporary feeling. At this point I’m also thinking about the spatial experience and what distortions, things like very low or very high ceilings inside, that I can use to emphasize our ideas. Now, rather than create an overt exterior formal complexity we’re going to manipulate the experience of the place by changing the horizon line of the inhabitants multiple times and alter the interior scale at each transition point. The terraced site is the perfect opportunity to do this and I’ll be introducing short stair runs between each structure to reinforce the notion of separation and create deeper site connections. The barn wing is positioned high on the site, then as you enter and navigate through the home you’re faced with different framed views of the site with each turn. Each circulation path has a different ceiling height, so you enter the site toward a sweeping view and are faced with a very low ceiling height. In this way, they synergize, enhancing their effects. We’re using the building to change the experience of the place. The interior spaces are usually and in this case especially heavily influenced by the exterior form. We could’ve easily used different forms here, different shed roofs, a mono-pitch to sort of one corner, a butterfly; and this is where it gets tricky for the practicing architect. Each option you explore has a financial implication for your client. Will you spend your fee chasing down the infinite formal options or will you test only a few safe ones? My approach is usually to propose three options. One is what they might be expecting. One is a solution they definitely wouldn’t expect and the third is somewhere in between. No matter what you choose, after presenting you’ll have some revising to do. All of these initial schemes were met with a lot of excitement, but as I expected none of them got it all right. And so we chose two to hybridize and continue iterating. Our early plan ideas are unresolved. Sketches are approximations of space but once you assign some real spatial dimensions, you’ll quickly find all you’ve sketched isn’t reasonable. Early design work results in more ideas than you’ll be able, or want, to use. Good designers – like writers – know that the first draft is always terrible. First drafts must be edited. What are the ideas that are energizing the design? Which ones will you draw to the fore and make more clear? Editing your design is all about clarity. What aren’t you saying clearly enough? My trick for editing is to place a fresh layer of trace on the plan and begin diagramming it. Can you diagram it at all? Is the circulation clear? Is the entry clear? Are the spaces in the right locations? Are they roughly the right size for what you’re trying to achieve? What doesn’t make sense? What can the concept we chose tell us about how we want to edit the plan and the model? You can’t possibly process all of the information you need to in the first round of revisions. This plan went through dozens of iterations before landing at the plan we’re actually building. And during construction, things will continue to change. The next step in the short course is to consider the material concept and make the plan more realistic.



Throughout ancient and medieval history, most of the architectural design and construction was carried out by artisans—such as stone masons and carpenters, rising to the role of master builder. Until modern times, there was no clear distinction between architect and engineer. In Europe, the titles architect and engineer were primarily geographical variations that referred to the same person, often used interchangeably.[3][4]

Filippo Brunelleschi is revered as one of the most inventive and gifted architects in history.[5]
Filippo Brunelleschi is revered as one of the most inventive and gifted architects in history.[5]

It is suggested that various developments in technology and mathematics allowed the development of the professional 'gentleman' architect, separate from the hands-on craftsman. Paper was not used in Europe for drawing until the 15th century but became increasingly available after 1500. Pencils were used more often for drawing by 1600. The availability of both allowed pre-construction drawings to be made by professionals.[6] Concurrently, the introduction of linear perspective and innovations such as the use of different projections to describe a three-dimensional building in two dimensions, together with an increased understanding of dimensional accuracy, helped building designers communicate their ideas.[6] However, the development was gradual. Until the 18th-century, buildings continued to be designed and set out by craftsmen with the exception of high-status projects.[6][7]


In most developed countries, only qualified people with an appropriate license, certification, or registration with a relevant body, often governmental, may legally practice architecture. Such licensure usually requires an accredited university degree, successful completion of exams, and a training period. The use of terms and titles and the representation of oneself as an architect is restricted to licensed individuals by law, although in general, derivatives such as architectural designer are often not legally protected.

To practice architecture implies the ability to practice independently of supervision. The term building design professional (or Design professional), by contrast, is a much broader term that includes professionals who practice independently under an alternate profession, such as engineering professionals, or those who assist in the practice architecture under the supervision of a licensed architect, such as architectural technologists and intern architects. In many places, independent, non-licensed individuals may perform design services outside the professional restrictions, such design houses and other smaller structures.


In the architectural profession, technical and environmental knowledge, design and construction management, and an understanding of business are as important as design. However, the design is the driving force throughout the project and beyond. 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.

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, the architect must meet with and question the client to ascertain all the requirements and nuances of the planned project. Often the full brief is not entirely clear at the beginning, entailing a degree of risk in the design undertaking. The architect may make early proposals to the client which may rework the terms of the brief. The program or brief is essential to producing a project that meets all the needs of the owner — it is a guide for the architect in creating the design concept.

It is generally expected that the design proposal(s)is both imaginative as well as pragmatic, but the precise extent and nature of these expectations will vary, depending on the place, time, finance, culture, and available crafts and technology in which the design takes place.

Designing buildings is a very complex and demanding undertaking, no matter what the scale of the project might be. A strong degree of foresight is a prerequisite. Any design concept must at a very early stage in its generation take into account a great number of issues and variables which include qualities of space(s),[8] the end-use and life-cycle of these proposed spaces, connections, relations, and aspects between spaces including how they are put together as well as the impact of proposals on the immediate and wider locality. Selection of appropriate materials and technology must be considered, tested and reviewed at an early stage in the design to ensure there are no setbacks (such as higher-than-expected costs) which may occur later. The site and its environs, as well as the culture and history of the place, will also influence the design. The design must also countenance increasing concerns with environmental sustainability. The architect may introduce (intentionally or not), to greater or lesser degrees, aspects of mathematics and architecture, new or current architectural theory, or references to architectural history.

A key part of the design is that the architect often consults with engineers, surveyors and other specialists throughout the design, ensuring that aspects such as the structural supports and air conditioning elements are coordinated in the scheme as a whole. The control and planning of construction costs are also a part of these consultations. Coordination of the different aspects involves a high degree of specialized communication, including advanced computer technology such as BIM (Building Information Management), CAD, and cloud-based technologies.

At all times in the design, the architect reports back to the client who may have reservations or recommendations, introducing a further variable into the design.

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. Health and safety risks form a vital part of the current design, and in many jurisdictions, design reports and records are required which include ongoing considerations such as materials and contaminants, waste management and recycling, traffic control and fire safety.

Means of design

Previously, architects employed drawings[6] to illustrate and generate design proposals. While conceptual sketches are still widely used by architects,[9] computer technology has now become the industry standard.[10] However, design may include the use of photos, collages, prints, linocuts, and other media in design production. Increasingly, computer software such as BIM is shaping how architects work. BIM technology allows for the creation of a virtual building that serves as an information database for the sharing of design and building information throughout the life-cycle of the building's design, construction and maintenance.[11]

Environmental role

As current buildings are now known to be high emitters of carbon into the atmosphere, increasing controls are being placed on buildings and associated technology to reduce emissions, increase energy efficiency, and make use of renewable energy sources. Renewable energy sources may be developed within the proposed building or via local or national renewable energy providers. As a result, the architect is required to remain abreast of current regulations which are continually tightening. Some new developments exhibit extremely low energy use.[12] However, the architect is also increasingly required to provide initiatives in a wider environmental sense, such as making provision for low-energy transport, natural daylighting instead of artificial lighting, natural ventilation instead of air conditioning, pollution, and waste management, use of recycled materials and employment of materials which can be easily recycled in the future.

Construction role

As the design becomes more advanced and detailed, specifications and detail designs are made of all the elements and components of the building. Techniques in the production of a building are continually advancing which places a demand on the architect to ensure that he or she remains up to date with these advances.

Depending on the client's needs and the jurisdiction's requirements, the spectrum of the architect's services during construction stages may be extensive (detailed document preparation and construction review) or less involved (such as allowing a contractor to exercise considerable design-build functions).

Architects typically put projects to tender on behalf of their clients, advise on the award of the project to a general contractor, facilitate and then administer a contract of agreement which is often between the client and the contractor. This contract is legally binding and covers a very wide range of aspects including the insurances and commitments of all stakeholders, the status of the design documents, provisions for the architect's access, and procedures for the control of the works as they proceed. Depending on the type of contract utilized, provisions for further sub-contract tenders may be required. The architect may require that some elements are covered by a warranty which specifies the expected life and other aspects of the material, product or work.

In most jurisdictions, prior notification to the relevant local authority must be given before commencement on site, thus giving the local authority notice to carry out independent inspections. The architect will then review and inspect the progress of the work in coordination with the local authority.

The architect will typically review contractor shop drawings and other submittals, prepare and issue site instructions, and provide Certificates for Payment to the contractor (see also Design-bid-build) which is based on the work done to date as well as any materials and other goods purchased or hired. In the United Kingdom and other countries, a quantity surveyor is often part of the team to provide cost consulting. With very large, complex projects, an independent construction manager is sometimes hired to assist in the design and to manage construction.

In many jurisdictions, mandatory certification or assurance of the completed work or part of works is required. This demand for certification entails a high degree of risk - therefore, regular inspections of the work as it progresses on site is required to ensure that is in compliance with the design itself as well as with all relevant statutes and permissions.

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, healthcare, retail, public housing, event management), technological expertise or project delivery methods. Some architects specialize as building code, building envelope, sustainable design, technical writing, historic preservation(US) or conservation (UK), 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, city planning, or other related fields.

Professional requirements

Although there are variations from place to place, most of the world's 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 a university degree in architecture. The experience requirement for degree 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,[citation needed] and the title used varied depending on geographical location. They often carried the title of master builder or surveyor[citation needed] 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.


Architects' fee structures are typically based on a percentage of construction value, as a rate per unit area of the proposed construction, hourly rates or a fixed lump sum fee. Combinations of these structures are also common. Fixed fees are usually based on a project's allocated construction cost and can range between 4 and 12% of new construction cost, for commercial and institutional projects, depending on a project's size and complexity. Residential projects range from 12 to 20%. Renovation projects typically command higher percentages, as high as 15-20%.

Overall billings for architectural firms range widely, depending on location and economic climate. Billings have traditionally been dependent on the local economic conditions but, with rapid globalization, this is becoming less of a factor for larger international firms. Salaries also vary, depending on experience, position within the firm (staff architect, partner, or shareholder, etc.), and the size and location of the firm.

Professional organizations

A number of national professional organizations exist to promote career and business development in architecture.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) USA

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) UK

Architects Registration Board (ARB) UK

The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) Australia

Association of Licensed Architects (ALA) USA

Prizes, awards, and titles

Zaha Hadid, winner of the 2004 Pritzker Prize.
Zaha Hadid, winner of the 2004 Pritzker Prize.

A wide variety of prizes is awarded by national professional associations and other bodies, recognizing accomplished architects, their buildings, structures, and professional careers.

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 Royal Gold Medal, the AIA Gold Medal (USA), AIA Gold Medal (Australia), and the Praemium Imperiale.

Architects in the UK, who have made contributions to the profession through design excellence or architectural education, or have in some other way advanced the profession, might until 1971 be elected Fellows of the Royal Institute of British Architects and can write FRIBA after their name if they feel so inclined. Those elected to chartered membership of the RIBA after 1971 may use the initials RIBA but cannot use the old ARIBA and FRIBA. An Honorary Fellow may use the initials Hon. FRIBA. and an International Fellow may use the initials Int. FRIBA. Architects in the US, 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. Architects in Canada, who have made outstanding contributions to the profession through contribution to research, scholarship, public service, or professional standing to the good of architecture in Canada, or elsewhere, may be recognized as a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and can write FRAIC after their name. In Hong Kong, those elected to chartered membership may use the initial HKIA, and those who have made a special contribution after nomination and election by The Hong Kong Institute of Architects (HKIA), may be elected as fellow members of HKIA and may use FHKIA after their name.

Architects in the Philippines and Filipino communities overseas (whether they are Filipinos or not), especially those who also profess other jobs at the same time, are addressed and introduced as Architect, rather than Sir/Madam in speech or Mr./Mrs./Ms. (G./Gng./Bb. in Filipino) before surnames. That word is used either in itself or before the given name or surname.

See also


  1. ^ The Nova Scotia Legislature Archived July 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". 
  3. ^ The Architecture of the Italian Renaissance Jacob Burckhardt ISBN 0-8052-1082-2
  4. ^ Administrator. "Civil Engineering Defined - Civil Engineering Definitions and History -". 
  5. ^ Filippo Brunelleschi, Totally History
  6. ^ a b c d Pacey, Arnold (2007). Medieval Architectural Drawing. Stroud: Tempus Publishing. pp. 225–227. ISBN 978-0-7524-4404-8. 
  7. ^ Vardhan, Harsh. "Different types of work by architects". Archibuddy. Retrieved 17 March 2018. 
  8. ^ Üngür, Erdem. "Space: The undefinable space of architecture". 
  9. ^ "17 Napkin Sketches by Famous Architects". 5 June 2015. 
  10. ^ Rybczynski, Witold (30 March 2011). "Think Before You Build" – via Slate. 
  11. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions About the National BIM Standard-United States - National BIM Standard - United States". Archived from the original on 16 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  12. ^ "What is a Passive House? [  ]". 
This page was last edited on 21 August 2018, at 12:01
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