Hiring An Architect, What Do They Do?

You are ready to hire an architect. What should you expect of one? What do we do? In popular culture we are depicted attending glamorous parties, sketching amazing buildings, bending over a drafting board with t-square and triangle and walking a steel beam. Finally our creation magically materializes to the applause of a happy client.

What An Architect Does Behind The Scenes

Yes, we do all those things with the exception that a computer screen and keyboard have replaced the drafting board. However what is rarely shown are all the behind the scenes client and engineering consultant meetings, zoning ordinance and building code research along with the coordination of all sorts of planning and construction minutia without which an idea remains just that.

An Architect Is A Team Leader

An architect is to the design and construction process what a conductor is to the management of an orchestra. Just as a conductor must know something of each instrument performing a symphony, the architect should know enough about each discipline and trade to orchestrate drawings and communication within his team while keeping a project moving along smoothly to a successful conclusion.

What To Expect During The Design Phase When Hiring An Architect

During the design phase of a project, the architect works closely with the client to develop a program of needs and wishes. These he translates into floor plans and exterior building elevations for the client’s approval. This process can get quite intense as the architect must balance the client’s vision with the reality of lot size, budget and all kinds of zoning and building code constraints. Depending on the complexity of a project, it’s not uncommon for the architect to explore several schemes before the client is satisfied and the architect is confident that the approved design is technically and legally feasible.

What An Architect Does Once The Design Is Approved

Once the client approves the design, the project moves into the technical drawing phase where the architect works out dimensions and construction details. Also at this time structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems are carefully integrated into the design. For this purpose engineering consultants are brought into the project as needed.

Next time we will go behind the scenes to peer over the architect’s shoulder as the ever present minutiae clamoring for attention are analyzed, massaged, coordinated and skillfully fit into the big picture.

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