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What does an Architectural Firm do

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  • 15-09-2020
What does an Architectural Firm do

What an architect does on a regular daily basis depends on where they work, whether that is a large city or a smaller town. It also depends on what type of company or firm they work for and many other factors.

See below for a brief outline at what architectural firms do:

Design Architect at a Large Architectural Firm

Larger firms tend to have entire teams that are focused on the initial design of the project only. A design architect is involved in the artistic side of the design process.

They will usually sketch freehand and make initial computer-generated images of the projects they are working on; they will also put presentations together for clients.

This type of architect has powerful artistic abilities, and most of their day is spent on creative visualisation activities. One of the disadvantages of being on a design team is that you are not involved in the latter phases of a project.

You also won't be involved in the drawing of building plans, nor will you be involved in how the project is constructed. 

The majority of design teams usually consist of several senior members who are skilled in traditional drawing with pen and pencil, and some younger members who are proficient with the latest digital tools.

Production Architect at a Large Architectural Firm

Larger firms will have architects and interns that work solely on the production of the building plans or blueprints. Architects usually call these construction drawings. These are the plans that the contractors will use to construct the building.

Younger and unlicensed architects on the architect production team typically spend their days modifying or correcting building plans with the software that enables them to do their job.

This job will involve long stretches sitting down doing the same thing over and over again like drawing screws in a piece of wood, for instance. Some architects like doing this, others don't.

Working on a production team will give an architect the ability to understand how a building is constructed. It will also give the architect an insight into how all the details fit together.

This type of architect does not design buildings, and they don't create the fantastic images of buildings that we quite often associate with architects, that part of the process belongs to the design team.

Contract Administration

Some architects will work exclusively on projects that are in the process of being constructed. These architects will answer any questions that the builder may have about the construction drawings.

Their time usually spent talking to the builder, researching the drawings, visiting the job site and coordinating any corrections that need to be made to the drawings. If you like being outside, going to meetings and are calm under pressure, you might want to go into contract administration.

There are many architects involved in the contract administration side who sit in front of a computer all day. If you genuinely want to spend your days outdoors, then you would probably need to work for a contractor.

The architects who work in contract administration are quite often senior architects that have been around for many years because this job requires extensive experience.

Specifications Writer

Some architects spend their days compiling project specifications. These are not actual drawings but are descriptions of the materials and quality standards that should be used on a building project.

For example, the specifications will inform the builder what paint to use when painting steel for outdoors, and the quality of the steel that should be used to frame a wall. These architects will spend their days researching all types of building materials and editing large documents.

Architect at a Mid to Small Size Architectural Firm

 Architects at mid to small size firms might not have the opportunity to work on monumental projects or massive skyscrapers. 

These firms are of smaller size, so these architects get more opportunities to be involved in every aspect of the project. The majority of upper-level architects do a little of everything. They may do some of the design, meet with clients, and manage the junior architects.

Sole Practitioner or Architectural Firm Owner

Many people get into architecture because they want to be there own boss and own their own architectural company.

The rewards and flexibility of starting an architecture firm are enticing to many people. Sole architectural practitioners and small firm owners work long hours and have to deal with tight finances. I

f you like the idea of doing many different tasks and like the thought of having all the responsibility and also enjoy the flexibility, this can be a gratifying path.

Interns

You would need to pass  3 to 5 years of internship before you can reach any of the positions listed above. Mainly your role during an internship will be sat in front of a computer for most of the day.

The only interns who would do building design all day tend to work at large firms as part of the design team. Interns at smaller architectural firms might do some of the creative work, but most of their working day is spent drafting on a computer.

It is impossible to cover all the job descriptions of an architects job; however, this is a good start.  If you are thinking about having a career in architecture, it is worth talking to some of your local architects and asking if you can shadow them for a couple of days.

Your career adviser should be able to help you with approaching an architectural firm. What you will learn during this will benefit you greatly in the future. It would be best if you decided what you like doing best so that you can steer your career in the right direction. Some architects design schools. Some design houses.

Every aspect is a very different experience. Some architects are out all day visiting construction sites, while some are happy sitting behind a desk for most of the day. Some architects never draw, and some architects do a little of everything.


Architecture Firm Meaning

An architectural firm is a company that offer architectural services.

Types of Firms

Much like any other industry, there are a varied and large amount of architectural firms. Listed below are the wide variety of these creative environments that exist; they will also demonstrate there different approaches and principles.

There isn't a  one size fits all, and most people generally gravitate towards the role and environment that suits them best while enabling them to express their own creativity.

Sole practitioners

Sole practitioners tend to work either a small office or from home and tend to take on smaller projects such as refurbishments, small one-off house build projects and extensions.

As the title suggests they work alone, which whilst that may sound rather lonely, it does give them ultimate freedom and flexibility.

Some architects strive towards the next step and will move to larger premises and employ a small team of staff; others are very happy where they are.

Small Boutique Firms

These studios consist of several people; they tend to work in a small studio or sometimes an office at the owners home.

Moving on from being a sole practitioner, on average, they tend to resemble an up and coming architectural firm that is gradually taking on new and larger projects, whilst also looking for the next step.

Medium-sized Design Firms

These architectural firms often consist of two to three principles and partners. Usually, by this stage, they have carved out and developed the right niche in the architectural market and specialise in a specific sector.

Simple management structures and procedures will be in place for the staff to progress.This environment often consists of a very close-knit team of like-minded young people.

The Bigger Names

These are the large and very well known firms of the architectural world. Many architecture students and young architects aspire and dream of working for these large and well-established companies.

Whilst these companies have many long-standing members of staff, there can also be a high turnover of staff, many young and aspiring architects looking to have the practices name on their C.V and then move on.

In order to work at these large companies, you will be required to work long hours, so you need to be committed to the role.

Co-owned

These are a relatively new way to structure an architectural firm but one that breeds a healthy working environment and a cooperative, by making everyone who works there accountable and able to influence the firms' success directly.

Each employee has a share in the company and, therefore, its profits as well as any company losses. This process helps to share responsibility and creates an inspiring and vibrant learning atmosphere for any young architects.

Large International Architectural Firms

These firms have offices located all over the world and will employ many hundreds of people.

They will have robust and strict methods and systems of working in place, coupled with a well-structured hierarchy of staff and management positions.

They often pay some of the highest salaries and offer good benefits, however, if projects start to slow down or finances are at a loss, it might mean that redundancies are made with no company loyalty to their staff.

You will, however, have the opportunity to work on a variety of commercial and public projects, you might also have the chance to work overseas.

Family Run Architectural Firms

A family-run architectural firm is often passed down from at least two generations. These firms pride themselves on loyalty and family values. A family-owned and run firm aims to look after the people they employ.

This will usually result in these firms having several long-standing members of staff. These firms tend to be committed to the projects they are working on.  They will also go above and beyond to finish the work.


What Makes a Good Architectural Firm?

Apart from choosing a firm that produces the work and architecture that interests you, it is an essential aspect of a firm if its people are like-minded.

Ultimately, the people you work with are the people who you will spend the majority of your time with, so it's vital that you like them and find them approachable.

Architectural firms are varied, ever-changing, creative, dynamic, bespoke and vibrant environments to work in; no two firms are the same.

What does an Architect do?

Architects design and create technical drawings and plans of buildings which will be used in the construction industry. They also work on the renovation and restoration of existing buildings; for example, they will design a new extension for a house.

Hiring an Architect as a Project Manager

They will create and schedules to keep within the projects budget and project deadline, and they can change anything that causes any problems throughout the process.

They aim to take the stress away from their clients and ensure everything runs as smoothly and as efficiently as possible.


In this document we highlight the question: What does an Architectural Firm do? We created this page to help  you understand the various skills and activities of an architect firm.

If you require an architect in Twickenham or the surrounding areas of London contact our specialist today.