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So you want to be an architect - Part 1

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Published on Sep 16, 2008

What does an architect do? An architect can perform many roles including design, specification writer, construction observation, ombudsman, and even in some cases construction, but for purposes of this discussion I would like to focus on design. According to one definition from my apple computer dictionary the architect is a person who is responsible for inventing or realizing a particular idea or project. Another definition states that an architect is a person who designs buildings and in many cases supervises their construction. Finally, Wikipedia’s definition works well. An architect is a person who translates a user’s requirements into a built environment. To summarize then, an architect, one; invents Two, design buildings. And three translate the users requirements into a built environment. In a way all three definitions fall under the category of design. For purposes of this discussion let’s talk about all three separately? First we know an architect Invents. An inventor creates something out of necessity that does not already exist. In a way every building, every house, every skyscraper, every thing architects create, if its original, is an invention. A building becomes something of an invention by virtue of the specific requirements of the client. It’s utility lies in its unique function for the person or people it is designed for. Second, we know an architect designs. To design is to plan with a specific purpose in mind. To me, designing implies a kind of thoughtful planning relative to a set of parameters. All kinds of things are designed after their invented. Vacuums, sneakers, printers, headphones, telephones, chairs, tables, silverware, and of course buildings. The architect designs the building after it’s conceived or invented. Thirdly, the architect is a translator in that they translate a users requirement into a built environment. When you first meet with an architect one of the first discussions is about the program. The program is essentially a description of everything that will be going into the building. If it’s a home, the program includes the number of powder rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms, how many car garage, etc… If it’s an industrial building the program includes machinery, offices, technology, etc… If it’s a skyscraper it includes, use, number of occupants, utility spaces, executive suites, number of floors, etc… In simple terms the architect takes the program and turns it into a building. So we see that while all three of these items, Invention, design and translation fall in under the category of design each is vital to the role of an architect. So if someone asks you what does an architect do? You know that to start with, they’re inventors, they’re designers and they’re translators. And that concludes the first part of our video series “so you want to be an architect”. I’m Doug Patt. See you next time.

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