Sunday, 2 November 2014

What Does an Architect Do?

A few weeks ago, I spoke to one of my friend what he thinking architects basically do. His respond was, "I in person know architects do more than this, but I would presume that 95% of the common people would assume that all an architect do is design houses." This kind of opinion is pretty insulting and patronizing to the architects. As far as I am concern, in some countries (depending on local legislation), an architecture degree is not even mandatory for residential design. Nonetheless, as architects or architecture students, you should comprehend that it is your job to alert and educate your clients and peers as to precisely what it is that you actually do and what your responsibilities are. This, in itself, can potentially avoid many job-related problems, litigations, and in some cases, lawsuit.

Let me first elucidate what is an architect. An architect is a person who plans, designs, and sometimes oversees the construction of a building. Architects are the professional, artistic, and technically skilled creators, inventors, and designers. They should apply plethora of understanding and awareness to utilize in their thought processes in order to not only use in the design, but in the communication of ideas to clients. 

That said, I would like to illuminate some of the responsibilities that come with the job.

1: Space Programming
Architect sits with the owner, developer and/or users of the new building to develop the best possible space layout, adjacencies, and goals of the project.

2: Schematic design
Architect translates the owner’s needs into a rough building design. Beginning with gestural models and drawings which helps the architect develops the language of the building and ending with mass studies and eventually some sort of 3D model representing the building and style. This presented along with a rough, non detailed space layout will commonly conclude the schematic design phase after many revisions.

3: Design Development
The owner agrees to the design and the architect begins to run with it. Ordering a site survey, perhaps some soils testing the architect now has enough information to layout a site design, foundation & structure (may subcontract a structural engineer), mechanical and electrical (may subcontract a mechanical and electrical engineer), wall sections, building elevations, partition types, door and window schedules, code research, material choices etc. Essentially this is the point where most of the decisions about what the building actual is, gets decided.

4: Construction Documents
This stage takes the bulk of the time (40%-60%) and is where the architect and interns create the contract documents. These consist of detailed drawings showing every possible detail as it relates the building, from how walls are made, how door jambs are to be constructed, how the exterior cladding is to be connected tot he structure, how the building is to be water proofed and insulated, roofing details, etc.. This is also the point where we write the specifications for the project.

5: Bidding and Negotiation
This is the point where architect hands off the construction documents to the owner and assist in getting and receiving bids, answering questions from the bidding contractors and subcontractors, issuing addenda and clarifications and ultimately helping the owner to choose the right contractor for the job.

6: Construction Administration
This is the construction part of the project where architect acts as the contract authority and force both parties (owner and contractor) to meet the contract requirements. This means checking show drawings and issuing supplemental drawings to help the contractor install and build things appropriately and to the specifications. This is one of the most important stages, because this is where the quality will either be great or awful, depending on the correctness of the beforehand made specifications and details and the quality of the contractor.

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