Architects are the professionals responsible for turning ideas into buildings. All architects do not have the same duties, and even the same architect does not necessarily repeat the same duties every day. Self-employed architects may perform the gamut of architectural duties, while architects at large firms may specialize in specific project phases. At the same time, the daily duties of an architect at a small firm generally consist of communicating, managing projects, researching, planning, designing and drafting.
Architects spend a good part of each day communicating with clients by phone, e-mail or in face-to-face meetings. Architects work closely with clients to help them articulate what they need and then make sure they get it – the architect is face of the project for the client. An architect usually creates several drawings and proposals to pitch to the client and then must sell or explain a particular design. Architects may also assist clients in commissioning feasibility studies, selecting contractors and providing updates.
Planning and Design
The most important part of an architect’s job, although it is not necessarily a daily task, is carefully devising creative solutions to meet a client’s requirements. Architects must work out how to combine the client's preferences, budget constraints, considerations about the building’s destined use, sound architectural practices and current legal codes and ordinances into a single project. In doing so, the architect will determine how the building will look, the types of building materials to be used and what infrastructure systems will be installed.
Architects take each project from start to finish, requiring them to always keep themselves organized and make daily progress in advancing the project. This may include ensuring time lines are met, consulting with engineers and interior designers, negotiating contracts and inspecting the progress of a construction site.
As part of the design and project management processes, an architect will research zoning laws, building codes, accessibility requirements, environmental studies, building materials, sites and suppliers. This type of research enables the architect to make well-informed decisions and devise adequate architectural solutions; in short, this research makes all his other work possible.
Architects bring their plans and ideas to life by drafting with CADD computer software. As a building’s plans are continually refined through several rounds of client meetings, consultations with other professionals, and studies, the architect must revise the plans accordingly. An architect may also be asked to create physical small-scale models of a design.