Architects design, plan and build the structures we inhabit to meet safety and legal regulations, and also, to suit the needs and aesthetic tastes of the clients they serve. They are in essence the project managers of the building world. In tandem with engineers, contractors, planning and zoning officials, and landscapers, architects are the touchstone of our built environment, planning every executed detail. Given the enormity of their role, it should come as no surprise that an individual architect's job description will vary widely, based on the size of the firm they work in, their level of experience, and the magnitude of the project at hand. Nonetheless, the intricacies of project management remain relatively unchanged.

Managing an Architecture Project

An architect's job consists of a compilation of projects and plans to be completed. As such, every job begins with a client meeting to determine their wants and needs as they pertain to the function, style, and budgetary restrictions. Determining the client's vision is followed by an assessment of feasibility. Amongst many inquiries, the architect must determine: Is the structure the client proposes environmentally, fiscally, and legally viable? Once these concerns have been addressed, the real planning begins.

The planning stages of an architect's job include detailed surveying and drawing, in order to simulate a design for approval. Models and computer animated simulations and detailed drawings are presented to clients, and if approved, passed on to planning officials and contractors for further approval and bidding. These detailed plans take into account everything from the direction of a door swing, to the placement of an electrical outlet, and the location of an air vent. With plan approval from the client in hand, building permits allocated, and contractors selected, it's time to hit the job-site. At this point, the architect becomes the managing liaison between all involved parties. Architects will regularly visit the site to make sure that plan specifications and deadlines are being met, all within the building codes of the region.

The Career-life of an Architect

Depending on the firm an architect is associated with, their roles and levels of responsibility can vary hugely. Many architects choose to be self-employed, often managing every project that comes through their business from start to finish. However, others join established firms that take on several projects of varying sizes at a time. In this scenario, the hierarchy of an architectural career really rears its head. Tasks are often broken down amongst a team of architects based upon their skill sets and experience levels, with the most tenured architects leading the project, and the interns bearing the brunt of the grunt work. There are many sub-levels of responsibility between interns and management, and additionally, there are frequently executives who own shares of the company who manage the project heads. Without a doubt, a career in architecture offers many paths, with a shared goal of creating safe, pleasing and efficient dwellings.