AskDefine | Define architect

Dictionary Definition

architect n : someone who creates plans to be used in making something (such as buildings) [syn: designer]

User Contributed Dictionary



From “master builder”



  1. A professional who designs buildings or other structures, or who prepares plans and superintends construction.
    Plato made the causes of things to be matter, ideas, and an efficient architect.
  2. A person who plans, devises or contrives the achievement of a desired result.
    Peisistratus was the first architect of the Iliad and the Odyssey.


a designer of buildings
a planner


  1. To design, plan, or orchestrate.
    He architected the military coup against the government.

Extensive Definition


An architect is a person who is involved in the planning, design, and oversight of a building's construction. The word "architect" comes from Latin architectus, which in turn derives from Greek arkhitekton (arkhi, chief + tekton, builder"). In its broadest sense, an architect is a person who translates a user's requirements into a built environment.
Architects must frequently make professional decisions that affect the safety and well being of the general public. Architects are required to obtain specialized education and experience to obtain a license to practice architecture, similar to the requirements for other professionals. The requirements for practice vary from place to place (see below).
The words "architect" and "architecture" are also used by professionals in other engineering-like disciplines, notably by Software architects. However, see below for the protected status of these words under some jurisdictions.

Prizes and awards

The most prestigious award a living architect can receive is the Pritzker Prize, often termed the "Nobel Prize for architecture." Other awards for excellence in architecture are given by national regional professional associations such as the American Institute of Architects and Royal Institute of British Architects. Other prestigious architectural awards are the Alvar Aalto Medal (Finland) and the Carlsberg Architecture Prize (Denmark).

Other meanings

Although the term architect refers to a professionally-qualified individual, the word is frequently used in the broader sense noted above to define someone who brings order to a built or non-built situation.

Architects in practice

An architect must thoroughly understand the building and operational codes under which his or her design must conform. That degree of knowledge is necessary so that he or she is not apt to omit any necessary requirements, or produce improper, conflicting, ambiguous, or confusing requirements. Architects must also understand the various methods available to the builder for building the client's structure, so that he or she can negotiate with the client to produce a best possible compromise of the results desired within explicit cost and time boundaries.
The idea of what constitutes a result desired varies among architects, as the architectural design values which underlie modern architecture differ both between the schools of thought which influence architecture and between individual practising architects.
The practice of architecture is a business, in which technical knowledge, management skills, and an understanding of good business practice are as important as creative design. In practice, an architect accepts a commission from a client (an individual, a board of directors, a government agency or a corporation). This commission may involve the preparation of feasibility reports, building audits, the design of a single building, or the design of several buildings, structures and the spaces between them. Increasingly, the architect participates in the development of requirements the client wishes to have met in the building. Throughout the project, from planning to occupancy, the architect usually acts as the coordinator of a team of specialists (the "design team"). Structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers, as well as other specialists, are generally retained by the client or the architect. The architect must ensure that the work of all these different disciplines is coordinated and fits together in the overall design.
Working hours are typically over a standard work week, but when working to tight deadlines it is not uncommon for architects to work long hours, including evenings, weekends and all nighters. Architects are predominantly office-based, but their work includes frequent out-of-office visits with clients and to job sites.

Design role

Increasingly, the architect participates in the development of requirements the client wishes to have met in the building. They design projects based on a client requirements, conditions particular to the site, and many other external needs and wishes. Architects must also pay attention to the economics and budget for a particular commission.
Architects deal with various government jurisdictions on local and federal levels, regarding numerous regulations and building codes. The architect may need to comply with local planning and zoning requirements such as required setbacks, height limitations, parking requirements, transparency requirements (windows), land use and other requirements. In many established jurisdictions, design guidelines and historic preservation guidelines must be adhered to.
Architects also prepare technical documents filed for permits (such as development permits and building permits) which require compliance with building, seismic and various other federal and local regulations. The documents (construction drawings and specifications) are also used for pricing and, ultimately, actual construction.

Construction role

Architects typically put projects to tender on behalf of their clients, advise on the award of the project to a general contractor, and review the progress of the work during construction. They typically review subcontractor shop drawings, prepare and issue site instructions, and provide construction contract administration (see also Design-bid-build). In many jurisdictions, mandatory certification or assurance of the work is required.
Depending on the client's needs and the jurisdiction's requirements, the spectrum of the architect's services may be extensive (detailed document preparation and construction review) or less inclusive (such as to 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. In the United Kingdom and other countries, a quantity surveyor is often part of the team to provide cost consulting.

Alternate practice and specializations

Recent decades have seen the rise of specializations within the profession. Many architects and architectural firms focus on certain project types (for example health care, retail, public housing, etc.), technological expertise or project delivery methods. Some architects specialize as building code, building envelope, sustainable design, historic preservation, accessibility and other forms of specialist consultants.
Many architects elect to move into real estate (property) development , corporate facilities planning, project management, construction management, interior design and other specialized roles.

Professional requirements


In Australia the title of architect is legally protected and architects are registered through state boards. These boards are affiliated through the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA) . The Architect Registration also provides accreditation for schools and assessments for architects with overseas qualifications for the purposes of migration. There are three key requirements for registration: a professional degree from a school of architecture accredited by the AACA; at least two years of practical experience, and; the completion of the architectural practice examination. Architects may also belong to the Royal Australian Institute of Architects which is the professional organization and members use the suffix RAIA after their name.


In Canada, architects are required to meet three common requirements for registration: education, experience, and examination. Educational requirements generally consist of an M.Arch. degree and are certified by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB). For degreed candidates, the experience requirement is typically the Intern Architecture Program (IAP). The provincial associations of architects, by the authority granted under their respective provincial Architects Act, require that Interns gain a minimum of 5,600 hours of work experience. The fundamental purpose of the pre-registration/licensing employment period is to ensure that the Intern is provided with sufficient experience to meet the standards of practical skill and level of competence required to engage in the practice of architecture. This experience is diversified into four main categories and 16 sub-categories, and must be completed working under the direct supervision of a registered architect. At present, all jurisdictions use the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), a series of nine computerized exams administered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). Upon completion of the educational requirements, IAP, and examinations, one can apply for registration/license. An annual fee must be paid, and continuing education requirements met, in order to maintain a license to practice.
The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) was established in 1907 and is a voluntary national association representing more than 3,600 architects and Faculty and graduates of accredited Canadian Schools of Architecture. The RAIC aims to be "the voice of Architecture and its practice in Canada". Members are permitted to use the suffix MRAIC after their names. The suffix FRAIC (Fellow of the RAIC) is used by members of the RAIC College of Fellows. Not all members of the RAIC hold accredited degrees in architecture, and not all Canadian architects are members of the RAIC.


In Singapore, university study is required (such as the 5 year course of study at the National University of Singapore or certain approved foreign universities). Upon completion of university, additional training by working for a minimum of two years under a registered architect is required in order to become registered. Singaporean law governs the use of the term "architect" and prescribes the requirements to be listed in the Register of Architects. Membership in the Singapore Institute of Architects is a voluntary professional credential.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom practicing under the name, style or title "architect" is restricted by law to those registered at the Architects Registration Board. It usually takes a minimum of seven years to obtain the necessary qualifications and experience for registration. Those wishing to become registered must first study at a recognized university-level school of architecture. Though there are some variations from university to university, the basic principle is that in order to qualify as an architect a candidate must pass through three stages:
  • On completing an initial degree in architecture (usually 3 or 4 years, usually either a B.A, BSc, or B.Arch) the candidate receives exemption from RIBA Part I. There then follows a period of a minimum of one year which the candidate spends in an architect's office gaining work experience.
  • The candidate must then complete a post-graduate university course, usually two years, to receive either a Post Graduate Diploma (Dip. Arch), Masters (M.Arch) or B(Arch). On completing that course, the candidate receives exemption from Part II of the RIBA process.
  • The candidate must then spend a further period of at least one year gaining experience before being allowed to take the RIBA Part III examination in Professional Practice and Management.

United States

In the United States, people wishing to become licensed architects are required to meet the requirements of their respective state. Each state has a registration board to oversee that state's licensure laws. In 1919, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) was created to ensure parity between the states' often conflicting rules. The registration boards of each of the 50 states (and 5 territories), are NCARB member boards.
Requirements vary between jurisdictions, and there are three common requirements for registration: education, experience and examination. About half of the States require a professional degree from a school accredited by the NAAB to satisfy their education requirement; this would be either a B.Arch or M.Arch degree. The experience requirement for degreed candidates is typically the Intern Development Program (IDP), a joint program of NCARB and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). IDP creates a framework to identify for the intern architect base skills and core-competencies. The intern architect needs to earn 700 training units (TUs) diversified into 16 categories; each TU is equivalent to 8 hours of experience working under the direct supervision of a licensed Architect. The states that waive the degree requirement typically require a full 10 years experience in combination with the I.D.P divesification requirements before the candidate is eligible to sit for the examination. California requires C-IDP (Comprehensive Intern Development Program) which builds upon the seat time requirement of IDP with the need to document learning having occurred. All jurisdictions use the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), a series of nine computerized exams administered by NCARB. The NCARB also has a certification for those architects meeting NCARB's model standard: NAAB degree, IDP and ARE passage. This certificate facilitates reciprocity between the member boards should an architect desire registration in a different jurisdiction. All architects licensed by their respective states have professional status as Registered Architects (RA).
Depending on the policies of the registration board for the state in question, it is sometimes possible to become licensed as an Architect in other ways: reciprocal licensure for over-seas architects and working under an architect as an intern for an extended period of time.
Professionals engaged in the design and supervision of construction projects prior to the 20th century were not necessarily trained in a separate architecture program in an academic setting. Instead, they usually carried the title of Master Builder, or surveyor, after serving a number of years as an apprentice (such as Sir Christopher Wren). The formal study of architecture in academic institutions played a pivotal role in the development of the profession as a whole, serving as a focal point for advances in architectural technology and theory.


Earnings for architects range widely, depending on experience, and where and how they work. Salaries also vary depending on the size and location of the practice. Earnings have traditionally been dependent on the local economic conditions but, with rapid globalization, this is becoming less of a factor for larger international firms. Some architects become real estate (property) developers or specialized roles where they can earn a significantly higher income than the industry median.

Canada earnings

In 2005, a typical salary for those employed in the architecture category in Canada was $49,595 to $73,684 ($CDN). "Architecture" includes architects, architectural technologists, interior designers, landscape architects and structural technologists.
According to the 2005 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Architect occupational group, working part-time or full-time, earned from $31,000 to $114,700 a year. The average salary was $63,100 a year.

US earning outlook

According to the 2006–2007 Occupation Outlook Handbook published by the US Department of Labor, the median salary of architects was $62,960 with the middle 50% earning between $46,690 and $79,770. This was slightly above accountants (median income $50,770), college professors (median income $51,800) and on par with most branches of engineering (median income of roughly $60,000).
Intern architects typically earn between $35k to 58k depending on experience prior to licensure. Architects that have completed the internship period can expect an average starting salary of between $51,709 and $64,519. For 10 years' experience, the base compensation level increases significantly to an average range of $62,608–$79,919; that range reaches $72,678–$96,928 for architects with 15 years' experience.
Senior architects and partners typically have earnings that exceed $100K annually. It is not unusual for an officer or equity partner to earn a base salary of $235,000, with a bonus of $200,000. Due to the major stake in ownership that equity partners may have, they can earn incomes approaching, and occasionally surpassing, seven figures.

UK earnings

The Royal Society of Architects in Wales (RSAW) publishes a guide to the salaries typical of the various stages of qualification: Beginning level candidates (part one) can expect between £11,000 and £18,500. Recent graduates (part two) earn between £19,000 - £29,000. Newly registered architects (part three) earn £29,000 - £32,000; part three, three to five years post-registration £34,000 - £40,000 (salary data collected May 6). The range of typical salaries at senior levels (after 10-15 years in role) is £32,000 to £80,000, depending on the seniority of the position.

Finland earnings

The average salary for a Finnish architect starting out in a private office is roughly 33,000€. Architects working for the municipalities are paid according to the Finnish governments salary system, in which the salary is determined by the level of stringency and expertise needed and how well a person copes with the requirements. The average base salary is about 35,000€.

Professional organizations

Refer to the international list of professional architecture organizations for groups created to promote career and business development in architecture. A wide variety of prizes are awarded to architects to acknowledge superior buildings, structures and professional careers.

See also

Further reading

  • Roger K. Lewis, Architect? A Candid Guide to the Profession. MIT Press, Cambridge, 1998.
  • David Chappell, J. Andrew Willis, The Architect in Practice. Blackwell Publishing, London, 2005.
  • Blythe Camenson, Careers in Architecture. McGraw-Hill; New York, 2001.
  • Lee W. Waldrep, Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design, John Wiley, Hoboken, NJ, 2006.
  • American Institute of Architects, The Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice, Student Edition, John Wiley, Chichester, 2001.
  • Peter Piven, Bradford Perkins, Architect's Essentials of Starting a Design Firm (The Architect's Essentials of Professional Practice), John Wiley, Chichester, 2003.
  • James R. Franklin, Architect's Professional Practice Manual. McGraw-Hill Professional, New York, 2000.
  • James P. Cramer; Scott Simpson, The Next Architect: A New Twist on the Future of Design. Greenway Communications, 2006
  • James P. Cramer, How Firms Succeed: A Field Guide to Design Management. Greenway Communications; 2nd Illus edition, 2004.
  • Gerald Morosco, Edward Massery, How to Work With an Architect, Gibbs Smith, Publisher, 2006.
  • Pat Guthrie, Architect's Portable Handbook. McGraw-Hill Professional; 3 edition, 2003.
  • Charlotte Baden-Powell, Architect's Pocket Book. Architectural Press, London, 2001.
  • Dr. Eisenmenger, Mathias, Architect's er Architekt: Das zukünftige Berufsbild unter Berücksichtigung seiner Verantwortung als Baumeister. kassel university press, Kassel, 2007, (PDF-Version)
architect in Arabic: مهندس معماري
architect in Azerbaijani: Memar
architect in Czech: Architekt
architect in Welsh: Pensaer
architect in Danish: Arkitekt
architect in German: Architekt
architect in Estonian: Arhitekt
architect in Spanish: Arquitecto
architect in Esperanto: Arkitekto
architect in Persian: معمار
architect in French: Architecte
architect in Ido: Arkitekto
architect in Indonesian: Arsitek
architect in Icelandic: Arkitekt
architect in Italian: Architetto
architect in Hebrew: אדריכל
architect in Limburgan: Architect
architect in Hungarian: Építész
architect in Dutch: Architect
architect in Japanese: 建築家
architect in Norwegian: Arkitekt
architect in Norwegian Nynorsk: Arkitekt
architect in Polish: Architekt
architect in Portuguese: Arquiteto
architect in Romanian: Arhitect
architect in Russian: Архитектор
architect in Simple English: Architect
architect in Slovak: Architekt
architect in Serbian: Архитекта
architect in Serbo-Croatian: Arhitekt
architect in Finnish: Arkkitehti
architect in Swedish: Arkitekt
architect in Tamil: கட்டடக் கலைஞர்
architect in Thai: สถาปนิก
architect in Vietnamese: Kiến trúc sư
architect in Ukrainian: Архітектор
architect in Chinese: 建筑师

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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