A successful design or construction project involves many professionals’ collective effort in and related to the industry.
The architect heads the team and drives the project from the drawing board to successful completion, but the amount of quality work put in by others is immense and necessary.
There are many professionals in the construction industry that the architects work with, namely:
1. Structural Engineer
Structural engineers are one of the core professionals that architects work closely with. Their involvement is particularly significant for the design of residential, commercial, industrial, and public facilities.
It is a working relationship that extends from the design development phase to construction.
How do architects work with structural engineers?
To ensure architectural designs’ buildability, the architect typically commences the cross-checking and coordination processes with the structural engineer after the Owner approves the primary design concept. This process continues into the detailed drawing phase and is common for the architect to require the structural engineer’s input when the design requires modifications during construction.
In other public infrastructures such as bridges and tunnels, it is more likely that you will find the Architect’s role resting primarily in – and ends at – the design concept.
The Architect acts purely as the designer, and the structural (and other) engineers will take over the detailed design and construction documentation components through to completion.
The extent of their working relationship would be relatively small.
2. Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Engineer
A completed building without lighting, plumbing, and mechanical ventilation is not habitable.
In most countries, the three mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems often fall under one engineer’s scope and responsibility – the MEP engineer.
An MEP engineer’s work scope covers design, development of policies, inspection procedures, and evaluation tools for the said components.
The Architect and MEP engineer work together by overlaying one scope of work over the other to check for adequacy and compatibility of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing provisions. It is a series of coordination tasks that also involves the structural engineer. Through Building Information Modelling (BIM), architects and professionals from the various engineering disciplines can collaborate, review, and implement more effectively.
3. Civil Engineer
Civil engineering is a specialized discipline focused mainly on planning, designing, constructing, and maintaining public infrastructures.
They include roads, bridges, airports, railways, underground infrastructures, power plants, and water and sewerage systems.
In other words: without civil engineers, the basic, practical needs for a city to function would be neglected.
The collaborative efforts between architects and civil engineers are necessary for large-scale public projects and housing estates. These are structures that require roads, sewerage systems, and other infrastructure for the development to function. On the contrary, architects and civil engineers typically do not cross paths in the design and construction of singly residential dwellings.
4. Interior Designer
In private and public buildings, interior designers play a crucial role in visualizing how people occupy and use space and turn that vision into reality through a combined application of materials, colors, lighting, and a host of decorative items.
Their job responsibilities include design, materials specification, furniture selection, production of detailed drawings, and monitoring of work on-site by the contractors and carpenters.
As interior designers’ work scope requires the knowledge of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing provisions, they work with the Architect and MEP engineer to ensure that their interior design dovetails with those services and do not contradict the primary design concept of the Architect.
Although architects are typically commissioned purely for architectural services, it is not uncommon for them to double up as the interior design specialist.
5. Landscape Architect
Landscape design is an essential component of an architectural design project.
Except in the limited cases where there is no green area within the property, the creation and maintenance of landscaping play an essential part in the property’s perceived value.
Landscape architects have in-depth knowledge of an extensive range of plants, their suitability to different climatic extremes and soil conditions, and their application in different building designs.
Designs produced by the landscape architect need to be consistent with the overarching design concept of the Architect. From plant size and color combination to the required maintenance regime, the Architect needs to be aware of the design decisions for the landscape – and in some cases, participate in the making of them.
6. Cost Consultant/Quantity Surveyor
In many countries worldwide, it is a widely accepted practice to have an independent cost consultant involved from the onset of a construction project.
This setup provides the Owners with unbiased advice and cost estimates as the project develops from the concept stages to construction.
The feasibility aspect is a crucial component to keep track of throughout. Failure to do so can bring an entire project to a grinding halt.
However, Owners in the private sector in the US still mostly rely on the construction manager or the general contractor to provide this service as part of their work scope.
This arrangement is a drawback that comes with the risks of cost increases beyond what the Owners should be paying as the general contractor is the party who carries out the construction.
7. General Contractor & Subcontractors
The architects, engineers, cost consultants, and other specialist designers form the core design team and are consultants to the Owner.
At the other end of the spectrum, the general contractor is the party that the Owner goes into a business agreement to construct the design that his consultants have produced for him.
However, the Owner – as the “non-expert” – does not have the specialized knowledge in the various disciplines necessary to ensure that the contractor delivers as contracted.
This gap is where the design consultants are of service to the Owner.
How do architects work with contractors?
Upon contract award, the Architect assumes the contract administrator’s role for the contract form – commonly the form developed by the Institute of Architects – signed between the Owner and the General Contractor. The Contractor builds and completes the building within the time, cost, and quality specifications as supplied by the Architect, engineers, and trade specialists.
Although the General Contractor typically sub-contracts various job components, he is ultimately responsible for their performance.
8. Other Trade Specialists – Lighting, Acoustics, etc.
Depending on the type of building, the Owner engages various trade specialists to perform specific design tasks.
These are scopes of work that typically fall outside the expertise of the architects and engineers.
Examples of such specialist trades are:
- Acoustics – sound rooms, cinemas.
- Lighting – hotels, concert halls.
- Signage specialist – airports, public buildings.
- Green design
The Architect and the engineers work very closely with the trade specialists as their specialized work results often determine those construction projects’ success.
The specialists mentioned above form the core team of professionals that real estate developers hire – although developers are just one of the many entities architects work for.