You are no stranger to the fact that architecture is multidisciplinary and that architects live a hectic work life.
Architects design, work with many building professionals and specialists, and manage teams of people who contribute to a design or building project’s success.
A day in the life of an architect – if only you could live it and get a taste of what it is like to be one.
Under all the profession’s glamor, architects who make a success of it do have to go through the graft consistently over a reasonably long period.
This post does not aim to provide a minute-by-minute account of an architect’s life (although you get that in the post on an architecture student’s daily life).
Instead, you will see what the major components of an architect’s responsibilities are and how they make up most of the time spent in an architect’s daily life – no matter the day.
Daily Duties of an Architect
Most architects have their personal preference in the order they execute the tasks for the day. Some break up the day in segments of times so they can address issues more efficiently.
An organized approach is crucial to complete the list of tasks without carrying any over to the next day.
On a typical workday of an architect, these are largely the duties to cover and in a pretty typical sequence, barring any unexpected event:
1. Emails, texts, and phone calls (1 hour)
Start the day early and hopefully reach the office by 8 am.
Upon reaching the office, get a cup of coffee and check the inbox for new emails and text messages.
Will only reply to selected messages that require an urgent response while the rest can wait. At the start of the day, it is crucial not to be bogged down by emails.
Checking these first thing in the morning to ensure there is no issue requiring immediate attention and that the plan for the day can proceed without modifications.
Messages aside, a few phone calls may be necessary to make arrangements for the day or address outstanding matters from the business’s close the day before.
2. Team meeting (1 hour)
Regular communications with team members are necessary.
Depending on the project’s size and the team under the architect’s supervision, there could be junior architects, architectural designers, interior designers, and drafting technicians.
Such meetings are not merely for the architect to communicate their ideas, plans, and instructions, but they are also crucial for the team members to raise questions and issues that must be dealt with for work to progress.
Regular meetings of this nature early in the day are usually kept within an hour to avoid hampering productivity for all.
If necessary, the meeting is scheduled later in the day for significant coordination efforts within the team.
3. Coordination work & review drawings (2 hours)
A building project’s success relies heavily on getting the details right, which means lots of coordination work with the various design consultants and trade specialists.
Architects, engineers, and building professionals use a Building Information Modelling (BIM) application for drawings and coordination tasks. It features the three main disciplines of the AEC industry – Architectural, Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing, and Structural engineering.
Revit is now the primary documentation tool used in the industry. It enables reviews, modifications, and visualizations across all disciplines.
It is also useful in communicating design ideas to clients.
4. Statutory compliance work (0.5 hours)
The translation of ideas on the drawing board into a built form is only made possible through compliance with the local authorities’ relevant building codes and statutory requirements.
As this could be a time-consuming task, it is crucial to keep it to a minimum and enlist an assistant’s help to do the legwork.
5. Design, research, and architectural detailing (2 hours)
With the bulk of work involving communications with stakeholders out of the way, it is now right for some quiet time to get design work done.
It is interesting how outsiders’ perception of an architect as mainly performing design work is wide off the mark.
Unless you are a full-on architectural designer, the design part of an architect’s job probably takes up no more than a quarter of the total time spent – most of the time, much less than that.
6. Job site visit (2 hours)
The danger of a building project hitting problems is likely when there is poor or erroneous communication between the design team and the contractors. The consequences of such problems usually manifest themselves in dollar terms.
Visiting job sites and closely monitoring work progress are part and parcel of an architect’s responsibilities.
The nature of an architect’s job is varied, but a strictly office-based job is not one of them.
The architect’s duty as the lead consultant is to coordinate technical drawings across the various disciplines and complete the project within the time and quality specifications.
As visiting job sites is an energy-sapping activity, it is best to schedule any such visits to the later part of the day.
7. More emails and touch base with Clients (1 hour)
Upon returning to the desk, it is time to get back to the emails, which had probably piled on even more since the inbox was last checked in the morning.
Unfortunately, not all emails are worth responding to as they take time away from productive work. But it is important to, at least, read through all of them to prevent any issue slipping through the gap.
It is also an excellent time to get in touch with the clients and keep them informed of the progress and communicate any matter that requires their attention, agreement, or action.
8. Paperwork, organize work desk, and prepare for the next workday (0.5 hours)
Before the close of play, it is crucial to get the paperwork in order. Address what there is to address, and file away those that require no further action.
Being organized is a necessity for architects considering the amount of work involved.
Before leaving for the day, the final task is usually to recap completed work and then make a quick list of things to get to for the next day.
Time to head home and have a pleasant evening relaxing with the family.
P/S – As typical as these components are, no two days are truly alike in an architect’s work life. Changes and surprises can happen, and they usually do. Some days are typical, but on others, architects work long hours for various reasons.