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 human occupancy or use as their principal purpose. Etymologically, architect derives from the Latin architectus, which derives from the Greek (arkhi-, chief + tekton, builder), i.e., chief builder.
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.
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.
It is suggested that various developments in technology and mathematics allowed the development of the professional 'gentleman' architect, separate from the hands-on craftsman.
In most developed countries, only those qualified with an appropriate license, certification or registration with a relevant body (often governmental) may legally practice architecture.
To practice architecture implies the ability to practice independently of supervision.
In the architectural profession, technical and environmental knowledge, design and construction management, and an understanding of business are as important as design.
The architect, once hired by a client, is responsible for creating a design concept that both meets the requirements of that client and provides a facility suitable to the required use.
Often the full brief is not entirely clear at the beginning: entailing a degree of risk in the design undertaking.
Design proposal(s) are generally expected to be both imaginative and pragmatic.
Foresight is a prerequisite as designing buildings is a very complex and demanding undertaking.
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), 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.
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.
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.
Previously, architects employed drawings to illustrate and generate design proposals.
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.
As the design becomes more advanced and detailed, specifications and detail designs are made of all the elements and components of the building.
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 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.
Recent decades have seen the rise of specializations within the profession.
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.
Although there are variations from place to place, most of the world's architects are required to register with the appropriate jurisdiction.
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.
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.
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.
A number of national professional organizations exist to promote career and business development in architecture.
The International Union of Architects (UIA)
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
The South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) South Africa
Association of Licensed Architects (ALA) USA
Prizes, awards, and titles
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.
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