Where Do Architects Fit In?

Architects are a vital part of the building team.

Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center
by Thornton Tomasetti
Part artist, part scientist, architects create the overall look of a structure, and produce the plans that are used to coordinate construction. They collaborate with different types of engineers to make a structure functional and safe, and responsive to the needs of the people who will use it. Architects work with structural engineers—they’re the ones who look at the supporting building elements—beam, columns, arches, trusses, shells, and the like—and make sure they’re put together correctly to satisfy the needs of the architect’s design. Other types of engineers are needed too, to design the systems that make a structure work—the electrical, mechanical, sanitary, telecommunications, lighting, and security systems. Together, they all make it happen.

On the team

Schedule, budget and quality are the big three of construction, and architects will interact with the owner’s project managers, construction managers, general contractors, and inspectors focused on these goals. Architects may also work with a variety of trades, particularly during construction supervision—and that means craftworkers—boilermakers, bricklayers, painters and pipe fitters, ironworkers. An architect may also interact with estimators and schedulers, and sometimes with the support team of insurers, bankers, attorneys, accountants, and other special consultants.

A Big Impact

Architects have the power to move and touch people in ways big and small. They are attuned to how a space can feel, and understand that many elements…the proportion of a room, the materials used, the way sound is attenuated, a slant of sunlight…can influence emotions.

Experts agree that our environment can affect our moods.  Studies that record subjects’ physiological responses to the environment through wearable devices, smartphone apps, and headsets showed that physiological responses slowed when a subject walked by a long uniform façade, yet increased in the presence of a more complex street scene.

There’s empirical evidence that hospitals and care facilities designed with more natural materials and a greater relationship to nature lead to better patient outcomes. And both students and teachers have been found to perform better when schools are well designed to include attractive outdoor spaces, rooms where large groups can meet comfortably, spaces for technology learning, natural light and views, and age-appropriate colors.
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