Let’s keep the role and influence of the individual architect a little reasonable and in perspective here. There are so many varying aspects of architecture employment. Few actually design, especially design all the time. Most are executing some sort construction documents or other legal text relevant to the building at hand, research materials or local building and zoning code. When design actually happens, it is a very rewarding for most. So design, as conceived as the main role of the architect by the public, is in fact a rather small aspect of the overall practice.
In general the role of the licensed architect, is to orchestrate a number of parts required for the project into a coherent fashion to the success of said project. Like the CEO of a company, the architect is the leader of the project. This holds true during the planning and design phases, and shifts during the actual construction phase. Here the architect takes an observatory role, rather than a leading role within the project team.
What are the typical parts of a design team? Every project is a little different, but most include the owner, the client, a group of engineers and the staff of the architect itself.
Beyond leading the above noted project, there are many roles within an architectural practice. Like any business, staff relating to the legal operation, such as accounting, marketing, etc. are required but may be considered elsewhere. As for the actual architectural breakdown, here are key positions within an architectural firm. The big three are:
Draftsperson and production staff are generally operating software to literally produce the drawings that communicate the design intent and any details required for construction. This used to be hand drafting, but those days are long gone. Largest portion of the architectural practice, consumes the most time.
Designer – coveted spot. Actually design the project. Most creative and theoretic aspect of architecture.
Project manager – little design, lots of production, lots of research and written texts. Overall understanding of project, contracts, coordination with others. Most engaging portion of the practice.
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