To many, the architect is a mysterious figure who conjuresbuildings from little more than graphite pencils and funny looking desks. Themost common thing people say when I tell them what I do is, “I could never dothat I’m terrible at math.” If they only knew how often we use digitalcalculators for even the simplest quick addition and subtraction, a lot morepeople would probably pursue building design.
The truth is, architects do a little bit of everything. Theyare the captain of the ship - coordinating a diverse crew of clients,engineers, consultants, contractors, and subcontractors as they steer the shiptowards an attractive, functional, socially and economically responsibleconstruction project. Here is a quick reference guide for architectural servicesprovided by architects.
If you could boil it down to a single service architectsprovide, it would be design. It is the foundation of architectural education,and the value they bring to any construction project. And it goes far beyondchoosing between white subway tile or a mosaic kitchen backsplash. Issues likeenvironmental protection, critical regionalism, and tectonic expression alllend themselves to establishing the conceptual backbone of a given project.
You’d be hard-pressed to find an architect walking aroundwithout an assortment of sketchbooks and technical pens. But taking thingsbeyond the casual cocktail napkin sketch, architects have the be able tocommunicate their designs to the people who are building it. That means the guyhanging drywall has to read a drawing just as easily as someone who has beenmeticulously trained to draw it. Construction drawings are just as much of anartform as the photo-realistic renderings and visualizations of the finishedbuilding.
Speaking of rendering and visualization, architects arepretty good at that, too. What good is a design if it can not be properly shownoff to clients, and in many cases, the public? Architects are trained to usethe latest computer and rendering technology to showcase their designs through2D imagery, animations, and even virtual reality. A sub-industry ofarchitectural visualization artists has sprouted in the past decade, leading toa brand new cutting edge of design communication.
The job of an architect is much more than scale models andribbon cutting ceremonies. They are the head of the dragon, and must be capableof understanding every system and component of a building. In the end, they aremaster builders who dream big, and must have the confidence and ability to makethose dreams into realities.