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What Does an Architect Do? The Hidden Responsibilities Behind Our Buildings

Introduction: Have you ever wondered what architects really do? It goes beyond just creating visually stunning buildings. Architects play a vital role in every stage of a project, from planning and drafting technical documents to...


Have you ever wondered what architects really do? It goes beyond just creating visually stunning buildings. Architects play a vital role in every stage of a project, from planning and drafting technical documents to problem-solving with contractors and ensuring the final product meets safety standards. In this article, we will delve into the surprising responsibilities of architects and explore what it takes to succeed in this dynamic and ever-evolving field.

Understanding the Role of an Architect:

Architects have various roles, but the most commonly recognized is the design architect. They are responsible for the aesthetic and visual aspect of building design, working closely with technical architects who focus on stability, adherence to codes, and energy efficiency. However, some architects, particularly those who work independently, assume responsibilities for both design and technical aspects of a project.

Architects also play a crucial role in the initial stages of a project, including site selection and environmental impact assessment. They provide cost projections, draft plans, manage the construction process, and ensure compliance with safety standards and accessibility for individuals with disabilities.

While residential and commercial architects are well-known, there are many other specialized areas of architecture, such as landscape architecture, green architecture, industrial architecture, restoration architecture, and municipal architecture. Each specialization brings a unique skill set to the table and expands the definition of what an architect can do.

A Day in the Life:

A typical day for an architect is fast-paced and filled with a variety of tasks. They can find themselves in various positions, from site surveyor to concept developer, planning adviser to detailed designer, team manager to dispute mediator. Architects structure their services around work stages, which outline the key areas of a construction project, from strategic definition to project closeout. While there are industry standards for work stages, some architects may have their own unique methods and processes.

The Different Roles of Architects:

Beyond the general role of an architect, there are various specialized roles and positions within the field. Design architects focus on the concept and design development, ensuring the aesthetic and theoretical qualities of a project come to life. Technical architects specialize in the inner workings of a building and how all the pieces come together. Project managers oversee the progress and development of a project, ensuring the right people are working on the right tasks. BIM managers coordinate the 3D modeling and information exchange in larger practices. Specification writers handle the detailed specifications for building materials and components. Architectural assistants are students in the process of becoming qualified architects, while senior architects have gained extended experience. Associates and partners take on additional responsibilities in leading projects and managing teams, while directors hold the ultimate responsibility in larger practices. Sole practitioners are self-employed architects who work independently.

Where Architects Work:

Architects can work in various settings, depending on the structure and type of practice they are a part of. Sole practitioners have the freedom to work from home, rent desk space, or have their own small office. Small practices usually have their own studio space, while larger practices may offer more flexible working arrangements, including the option to work from home a few days a week.

FAQ's about What Architects Do:

  • What are 5 things architects do?: Architects design and plan buildings, conduct feasibility studies, collaborate with engineers and contractors, communicate with clients, and adapt to changing regulations.
  • Do architects make a lot of money?: The salary of an architect varies depending on factors such as location, experience, and education. The median annual wage for architects in May 2020 was $80,750, but it can be higher in cities with a high cost of living or for self-employed architects.
  • Is it hard to be an architect?: Becoming an architect requires formal education, hands-on experience, and a passion for design. It can be challenging, as architects need to balance creativity, technical knowledge, problem-solving, communication, and project management skills.
  • What does an architect do on a daily basis?: The daily tasks of an architect can vary depending on the project, but they typically involve meeting with clients, developing design concepts, creating architectural drawings, collaborating with professionals, conducting site visits, addressing issues, and staying up to date with regulations.


Architects play a vital role in the design and construction of the buildings and spaces that shape our lives. They balance artistic vision with practicality, considering the needs of clients, building codes, and budget. With their expertise and dedication, architects turn ideas into reality and make a lasting impact on our communities and the built environment.