The Role of an Architect in a Construction Project
Although there are many similarities shared between the role of an architect in the past and the responsibilities of an architect in the present, things have certainly changed and adapted regarding their role in a construction project. Now, the role of the architect is to be responsible for the designing, building, and engineering of structures while also having lots of project management responsibility. Historically, the role of an architect has always been a prestigious one, especially those that work on landmarks and very one-of-a-kind structures.
In modern times the main role of an architect, particularly a construction architect, is to conceptualize, plan and develop designs for new build construction. They can also be hired to renovate or redesign commercial, institutional, and residential buildings. An architect must have in-depth technical skills like being able to use specialized software, as well as possess an understanding of a building's systems like electrical circuits and plumbing.
While architects are not professional engineers, they need an understanding of structural design principles and best practices to design buildings that are possible to build in the first place. Architects focus more on the artistry of a building but work closely with engineers to finish the final blueprints.
We wanted to explore the main role of an architect and the architect's responsibilities in a construction project. In order, the roles and responsibilities of a construction architect go as follows:
Conducting Initial Consultations
The first responsibility of an architect in a construction project is to conduct initial consultations with all the stakeholders involved, like professional developers, regular residential clients, and structural engineers. The purpose of the construction architect's meeting with all the stakeholders is to determine the type, style, and overall focus of the prospective project and make sure everyone is aligned. This will help the architect create the drawings, designs, and functionality of the overall structure.
Part of this consultation is for the construction architect to inform the client about the rules, regulations, and overall feasibility of the project. Depending on the location of the project, there may be different federal or even municipal laws and bylaws that prohibit or require the addition of a certain design feature or practical element to the project's design. It's the architect's responsibility to inform the client about all regulatory aspects of the project in order to guide them in the design process.
The role of the architect also sees initial consultations taking place with the prospective project's other team members. For example, the architect has to consult with engineering professionals to make sure that the proposed location and building's design can be approved from a structural standpoint. After all, although everyone wants more well-designed and aesthetically pleasing buildings, they still need to be structurally sound.
Once initial consultations are completed and it looks like the project is approved, it's time for the architect to use their design skills.
Drawing and Designing the Project
Drawing and designing the structure is the part of the construction process where the architect gets to roll up their sleeves and do their specialized work. At this stage of the process, the construction architect will get to conceptualize the building and create the plans for the structure in accordance with everything that was discussed with all the stakeholders.
The architect is responsible for sketching the exterior of the building as well as designing the interior of the structure. An architect may also create a 3D model of the structure to present to their client that will help demonstrate floor plans and overall building layout. The role of the architect also includes describing and preparing design specifications like which building materials are going to be used for a certain piece of the structure. This is where the engineer can also offer their expertise about which materials they think might work best.
After the approval of the design plans from all stakeholders involved, the architect's final blueprints will include all necessary details to help guide the contractors in order to properly construct the project. This will of course include any and all structural, mechanical, and electrical planning documents, as well as any other instructions like technical specifications that are created for the contractor's guidance.
After designs are approved and blueprints are ready, an architect will help plan for the actual construction of the project itself.
Helping Determine Costs, Timelines, and Contractors
Although project managers, owners, and engineers will all have a hand in this, an architect is still partially responsible for determining the costs, timelines, and contractors of a project.
Construction architects, along with the other parties mentioned above, will work to determine the overall cost of the project, as well as the timelines that contractors must adhere to. First, factors such as material costs, labor costs, and heavy equipment costs will be determined with the help of the architect since they designed the structure and have knowledge of the process in which the structure should be built. Having an accurate estimate of the total hours that will be worked on a project is helpful in determining costs, which is why architects have a hand in creating the timelines that should be met throughout the project's construction.
In an effort to help determine costs and timelines, it's also an architect's responsibility to help create construction project manuals to assist contractors in the construction process. These project manuals include documents prepared for managing the construction project like; bidding documents, the project agreement, general conditions, supplementary conditions, and most importantly project specifications.
Lastly, it's the role of an architect to help stakeholders determine which contractors will be awarded the job during the contract negotiating stage of the project. The architect will help to both choose and suggest different contractors for each specific construction activity. That's why it's always beneficial, as a contractor, to know everyone involved on the job site. An architect that has worked with a reputable contractor before will be more likely to work with them again.
After the project's planning is finished and construction is ready to begin, the architect takes on one last, more managerial role.
Once the design, planning, and preparation for a project are completed, it may seem like an architect's role is done. However, an architect still has responsibilities from the beginning to the end of the construction process.
Here, the main role of an architect is to monitor the activities on-site and make sure that the project is being completed according to plan. By doing routine site visits, architects will ensure a smooth building process, especially if there are any issues that arise from contractors who need help with specifications or need an architect's signature to move forward with a certain task.
The architect may also act as the liaison between contractors and the client. By completing inspections, it's an architect's responsibility to make sure that the timelines are met and the budget is spent accordingly in order to ensure that the client gets the agreed-upon value for their money.
The last responsibility of an architect is to certify the structure. After building completion, the architect will have to do inspections to make sure that the quality of the work matches what was outlined in the contract. From there, the architect can issue certificates of completion.