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What is an Architect and what they do:

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An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings, and is licensed to practice architecture.

To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings, that have as their principal purpose human occupancy or use.

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. The practical, technical, and academic requirements for becoming an architect vary by jurisdiction.

The practice of architecture involves offering or rendering services that include pre-design services, programming, planning, providing designs, drawings, specifications and other technical submissions, the administration of construction contracts and the co-ordination of any elements of technical submissions prepared by others (such as by engineers) and technical designers.

Architecture is a business in which technical knowledge, management, and an understanding of business are as important as design. An architect accepts a commission from a client. The commission might involve preparing feasibility reports, building audits, the design of a building or of several buildings, structures, and the spaces among them. The architect participates in developing the requirements the client wants in the building. Throughout the project (planning to occupancy), the architect coordinates a design team, which may include structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers and other specialists, that may be hired by the client or the architect. The architect must ensure that the work is coordinated to properly construct the designed project.

Design Phase:
  1. The architect hired by a client is responsible for creating a design concept that meets the requirements of that client and provides a facility suitable to the required use. In that, the architect must meet with and question the client [extensively] to ascertain all the requirements and nuances of the planned project. This information, known as a program or brief, is essential to producing a project that meets all the needs and desires of the owner, it is a guide for the architect in creating the design concept.
  2. 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.
Construction Documents:
  1. Architects prepare the technical or "working" documents (construction drawings and specifications), usually coordinated with and supplemented by the work of a variety of disciplines [i.e., with varied expertise like mechanical, plumbing, electrical, civil, structural, etc.] engineers, for the building services, and that are filed for obtaining permits (development and building permits) that require compliance with building, seismic, and relevant federal and local regulations.
    These construction drawings and specifications are also used for pricing the work, and for construction.
Construction Administration:
  1. Architects typically assists their clients during the bidding process, advise on the awarding of the project to a general contractor, and review the progress of the work during construction, if contracted by the client. They typically review subcontractor shop drawings and other submittals, prepare and issue site instructions, and provide construction contract administration and Certificates for Payment to the contractor, if contracted by the client to provide these services. In many jurisdictions, mandatory certification or assurance of the work is required.
  2. Depending on the client's needs and the jurisdiction's requirements, the scope of the architect's services may be extensive (detailed document preparation and construction review) or less inclusive (such as allowing a contractor to exercise considerable design-build functions). With very large, complex projects, an independent construction manager is sometimes hired to assist in design and to manage construction.
Professional Requirements:
  1. Although there are variations from place to place, in most of the world architects are required to register with the appropriate jurisdiction. To do so, architects are typically required to meet three common requirements: education, experience, and examination.
  2. Educational requirements generally consist of an acredited university degree in architecture. The experience requirement for degreed 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.
Architect's Fees:
  1. Architects' fee structures are typically based on a percentage of construction value, hourly rates or a fixed lump sum fee.
    Combinations of these structures are also common. Fixed fees are usually based on an a project's allocated construction cost and can range between 2% and 12% of new construction cost, depending on a project's size and complexity. Renovation projects may command higher fees.
    Typically, the larger the project, the lower the percentage or fixed lump sum.
    You need to sit and discuss this with your Architect.
  2. 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.
Professional Title:
    According to the American Institute of Architects, titles and job descriptions within American architectural offices might be as follows:
  1. Senior Principal / Partner: Typically an owner or majority shareholder of the firm; may be the founder; titles may include president, chief executive officer, or managing principal/partner.
  2. Mid-level Principal / Partner: Principal or partner; titles may include executive or senior vice president.
  3. Junior Principal / Partner: Recently made a partner or principal of the firm; title may include vice president.
  4. Department head / Senior Manager: Senior management architect or non-registered graduate; responsible for major department(s) or functions; reports to a principal or partner.
  5. Project Manager: Licensed architect, or non-registered graduate with more than 10 years of experience; has overall project management responsibility for a variety of projects or project teams, including client contact, scheduling, and budgeting.
  6. Senior Architect / Designer: Licensed architect, or non-registered graduate with more than 10 years of experience; has a design or technical focus and is responsible for significant project activities.
  7. Architect / Designer III: Licensed architect or non-registered graduate with 810 years of experience; responsible for significant aspects of projects.
  8. Architect / Designer II: Licensed architect or non-registered graduate with 68 years of experience, responsible for daily design or technical development of projects.
  9. Architect / Designer I: Recently licensed architect or non-registered graduate with 35 years of experience; responsible for particular parts of a project within parameters set by others.
  10. Intern-Architect: Unlicensed architecture school graduate participating in defined internship program; develops design or technical solutions under supervision of an architect.