Architects plan, design, and supervise the construction, alteration, and repair of buildings, such as private residences, office buildings, theaters, public buildings, and factories. Their aim is to make the buildings functional, safe, economical, and pleasing to the eye.
Architects first consult with their clients to determine functional and space requirements. They then prepare information about design, specifications, materials, equipment, and estimated costs and time. Preliminary plans are then drawn up; if the client approves, and a final design is agreed upon, that design is translated into scale and full-size workings which show the details of the proposed structure.
Architects also assist their clients in obtaining bids from building contractors and awarding construction contacts. They then supervise the administration of the construction contracts and condact on-site observations of the work in progress.
Some architects concentrate on the design aspects of the project, others on the engineering aspects. Many architects specialize: some design residential buildings, for exemple; others, commercial buildings; and still others, shopping centers.
A five-year bachelor of architecture degree, with the first two years consisting of liberal arts courses. Many graduate architects then go on to take a two-year master’s program. An alternate course of study is a four-year liberal arts degree followed by a three- or four-year master’s program in architecture.
All states require that practicing architects be licensed. Architects who have graduated from an accredited school of architecture and who have had at least three years of practical experience in an architectural firm may take the four-day Architect Registration Examination, which is administrated by state licensing boards.
Architectural design; architectural graphics; structural theory; specification writing; freehand drawing; history and theory of architecture; building design; urban planning.
The most important aptitudes for architects are high structural visualization and memory for design. An individual with high structural visualization can picture in his mind the structure of three-dimensional forms; he can tell how something drawn as a bueprint will look when it is eventually built.
Today, computer-assisted design is increasingly used in the field of architecture. Some of the more sophisticated computer programs enable the architect to see his or her plans in three dimentions, but this is basically a system for making routine work easier, so high structural visualization is still a major asset. In addition, high structural visualization is usefull in mathematics, and mathematical skills are necessary in architecture.
The ability to remember designs is also a valuable characteristic, because it helps architects to remember not only different styles of architecture but also the thousands of different elements that make up the design of homes, theaters, or other buildings. The ability to remember the various elements and aspects of an architectural site will also help the architect create a structure that will fit naturally into that site in a way that is harmonious with the environment.
The field of architecture has opportunities for those who score either subjective or objective in personality on the word-association test. One who scores subjective might prefer work of an individual nature, such as sittings at a drafting table or in front of a computer designing building or parts of buildings. One who scores objective, however – an indication of an ability to work compatibly with others – might prefer working as part of a design team or in the field, supervising contractors, plumbers, carpenters, painters, and others. An objective person would also be able to function well in situations that involve dealing directly with the client, for the architect must be able to interact with the client in such a way that he or she can translate the client’s needs into reality.