Architect Meaning Explained: Understanding the definition of an architect

Particularly when considering a career path in architecture it’s important to be able to define and understand exactly what the term and title ‘architect’ means...

Particularly when considering a career path in architecture it’s important to be able to define and understand exactly what the term and title ‘architect’ means.

So in this post we discuss the various meanings and architect definition’s behind of the professional title, and investigate what is required to practice under it.

Architect meaning and definition – What is the professional title mean?

In defining the term and meaning of what an architect is, the simplest explanation; is a; trained, accredited and registered (this is very important) professional, who is qualified to design, plan, advise and aide in the procurement of both the private and public built environments.

This covers both the aesthetic and technical fields, and is carried out through impartial and creative thinking no matter how small of large the project is.

The actual word “Architect” was derived from the Latin word architectus, which originates from the Greek word arkhitektn, where arkhi means chief, and tecketn means builder.

So the architect is defined as the Chief Builder.

This term “chief builder” has moved and adapted through time, but is still extremely accurate in describing the architects holistic role during a construction project from inception through to completion.

The architect is required to play many roles and characters during this process, and at any one time can be called upon to be a designer, manager, businessmen, maker, adviser and a mediator to name a few.

They represent and are the one constant and consistent part of a project.

There are many different ways to define and use the term ‘architect’, some of which are used outside of the built environment to describe a person who designs and/or guides a plan or undertaking, and/or is responsible for its success for example.

However here we are just focusing on the architect as a professional, and who can be defined under the following definitions:

What is a simple definition of architect?

  • A person who designs buildings and advises in their construction. The Merriam Webster dictionary
  • A person who designs buildings and in many cases also supervises their construction. The Oxford dictionary
  • A person whose job is to design new buildings and make certain that they are built correctly. The Cambridge dictionary
  • An architect is a person who designs buildings. The Collins dictionary
  • A person skilled in the art of building, one who plans and designs buildings and supervises their construction. The Etymology dictionary
  • An architect is a person who plans, designs, and reviews the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to provide services in connection with the design of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings, that have as their principal purpose human occupancy or use Wikipedia
  • A person who engages in the profession of architecture. Dictionary.com
  • Someone whose job is to design buildings. Macmillan dictionary
  • Someone who creates plans to be used in making something (such as buildings.) vocabulary.com
  • The definition of an architect is a professional who creates designs for buildings, bridges and other structures. Your dictionary

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) architect definition is:

  • “Licensed professionals trained in the art and science of the design and construction of buildings and structures that primarily provide shelter. An architect will create the overall aesthetic and look of buildings and structures, but the design of a building involves far more than its appearance. Buildings also must be functional, safe, and economical and must suit the specific needs of the people who use them. Most importantly, they must be built with the public’s health, safety and welfare in mind.”

The Royal Architecture Institute of Canada (RAIC) state that an architect definition is:

  • “The most basic definition of an architect is a professional who is qualified to design and provide advice – both aesthetic and technical – on built objects in our public and private landscapes. But this definition barely scratches the surface of an architect’s role. Architects serve as trusted advisors, their role is holistic, blending diverse requirements and disciplines in a creative process, while serving the public interest and addressing health and safety matters.”
Architect meaning and definition of architect

Using ‘Architect’ in a sentence

‘Frank Lloyd Wright was the architect of Falling Water House.’

‘The great Norman architect of Durham Cathedral’

‘The same architect designed the superb aqueduct by which the city is supplied with water from Monte Francoa, some nine miles off.’

Architect synonyms

  • Artist
  • Builder
  • Creator
  • Designer
  • Engineer
  • Originator
  • Inventor
  • Planner
  • Drafts person
  • Maker
  • Originator
  • Master builder

How to pronounce architect

This video provides a guide on how to accurately pronounce the word “architect”. It not only highlights the correct pronunciation, but also breaks down the word into its syllables, ensuring you can articulate it fluently and confidently.

Architect abbreviation

The abbreviation for the word “architect” is typically “Arch.” or “Archit.”. However, it’s important to note that the use of abbreviations can vary depending on the context.

For example, registered or licensed architects in the United States often use the suffix “AIA” after their names, which stands for “American Institute of Architects”.

In the United Kingdom, the title “RIBA” (Royal Institute of British Architects) is often used after an architect’s name. Always be sure to use the appropriate and respectful form when addressing an architect.

What does an architect do?

We cover the roles and responsibilities in detail here, and it can and will of course vary from firm to firm, as some will be more design focused and others more technical but:

They can work on a variety of buildings; whether it is a new build, an extension, refurbishment (or both), or even the restoration and conservation of an old and/or grade I, II and II* listed buildings, there will always be an interest and specialty. 

They can bring value to a project, by helping to define what is important and key in generating a successful outcome …maximizing the impact, functionality or marketability of a building and/or structure.

They can serve as a trusted adviser; with a creative understanding of materials, aesthetics, cultural and physical contexts, the clients design brief requirements are translated into an effective and affordable design solution that works with the practical considerations of the site.

They can develop solutions and propose ways that can reduce construction costs whilst maintaining design integrity and property value.  

They can oversee a project from inception to completion, and will advise and work with the necessary additional construction professionals and consultants such as engineers to ensure a successful delivery.

They can work with a diverse range of collaborators who can cover a variety of areas of expertise including engineers, landscape architects, sustainable energy consultants and contractors/builders.

They can project manage; as a project develops the team required to procure it will grow, and an architect will need to become part of and overlook a larger team of people in order to complete a project. Communication and collaboration are important skills every architect must have.

What are the different types of architects?

As discussed here in our article dedicated to discussing the different types architects, there are a variety of different positions an architect can fill within the profession, some of which include:

  • Residential: Residential architects specialize in designing and planning single-family homes, multi-unit housing, and other types of residential buildings. They work closely with clients to understand their needs and preferences, and then create designs that are functional, attractive, and sustainable.
  • Commercial: Commercial architects design and plan a wide range of non-residential buildings, such as office buildings, shopping centers, hotels, and other types of commercial structures. They must be familiar with the specific requirements of the commercial sector and work closely with other professionals, such as engineers and contractors, to ensure that their designs are safe and meet building codes.
  • Landscape: Landscape architects design and plan outdoor spaces, such as parks, gardens, and other types of public spaces. They work closely with architects and urban planners to ensure that their designs complement and enhance the built environment.
  • Interior: Interior architects specialize in designing and planning the interior spaces of buildings. They work closely with clients to create functional, attractive, and sustainable designs that meet the specific needs of the occupants.
  • Industrial: Industrial architects design and plan industrial buildings, such as factories, warehouses, and other types of industrial structures. They must be familiar with the specific requirements of the industrial sector and work closely with other professionals to ensure that their designs are safe and meet building codes.
  • Other types of: There are many other types of architects who specialize in specific areas, such as historical preservation, healthcare architecture, and sustainable design.

It’s worth noting that some architects may also cross over into multiple areas and may not be strictly limited to one type of architecture.

Architect Meaning and Definition

Who becomes an architect?

Becoming an architect requires a specific combination of skills, education, and passion. Here’s a brief look at who typically becomes an architect:

  1. Educationally Qualified Individuals: Architecture is a professional field that requires a substantial amount of education. At a minimum, an individual needs a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture, but many pursue a Master’s Degree or even a Doctorate. Some architects also have degrees in related fields like interior design or urban planning.
  2. Creative Thinkers: Architecture involves a lot of design work, so architects are often individuals who enjoy and excel at creative thinking. They need to be able to imagine, design, and refine the look and functionality of buildings and spaces.
  3. Problem Solvers: Architects often have to overcome various design challenges, like adhering to city codes and regulations, respecting environmental considerations, or meeting a client’s specific needs. Therefore, individuals who enjoy solving problems and can come up with innovative solutions may be drawn to architecture.
  4. Technically Proficient: Architects need to understand and use various technical tools, including computer-aided design (CAD) software. They also need to understand the principles of construction and engineering to ensure that their designs can be built safely and effectively.
  5. Passionate about Buildings and Design: Many architects have a passion for buildings, design, and the built environment. They often find satisfaction in seeing their ideas become physical realities that people live and work in.
  6. Good Communicators: Architects need to communicate effectively with a variety of stakeholders, including clients, construction crews, and government officials. So, people who have strong verbal and written communication skills may be more likely to become successful architects.
  7. Detail Oriented: Precision is critical in architecture, as small errors can lead to big problems down the line. As such, individuals who pay great attention to detail often do well in this field.

How is the architectural profession regulated?

While it is not a statutory requirement for all buildings to be designed and procured by a registered architect, when they are, the process is strictly regulated by the Architects governing body for their country and/or state (US).

This ensures that high standards and quality of work are maintained. 

In the US the title is protected under individual state law and nationally over scene by the National Council of Architectural registration Boards (NCARB).

In the UK, it is under statutory law ‘the Architects Act 1997’ that protects the title from unqualified persons using it, which led to the establishment of the Architects Registration Board (ARB) who are in place to protect and regulate the title.

What this means, is that with the few exceptions of a landscape architect, golf course architect and naval architect, only a licensed architect can practice under the title. This gives the client, reassurance that the services offered will be carried out to a high and professionally regulated standard.

Architect Definition and Meaning 101

How to be an architect in the United States

Becoming a licensed architect in the US requires a combination of education, practical experience, and examination. The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) is responsible for outlining and maintaining the education and examination requirements.

To become a licensed architect, you will need to make sure that you meet your jurisdiction’s education requirements. For most students, this means earning a professional degree in architecture through a program accredited by NCARB, via architecture school. You can learn more about the NAAB-accreditation here.

In most cases the academic studying is combined into a 5 year B.Arch or M.Arch program that covers and develops the skill sets and knowledge required to progress onto an internship with a practice.

This internship will be with a licenced practice and typically lasts for a minimum of three years before the professional exam (ARE) can be taken. Be mindful however that each jurisdiction has slightly different requirements, and so always consult the NCARB licensing requirements tool here.

Then finally the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) for your specific state or the state you plan to practice in must be taken and passed.

It is the general assumption that once completed; the student is then ready to enter back into the profession as a licensed professional with the capability of running and managing their own projects and small practice.

Only after this point, can you call yourself an architect.

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How to be an architect in the UK

In the UK, the traditional route is via an honors degree in architecture. This is a ‘normal’ three year degree that develops a broad range of skills and architectural understanding, comprising of design skills, construction methods, theory and architectural history.

Following successful completion, the next step is to take the first of the required (minimum) two years out in practice. This is carried out under the guidance of a registered architect in line with the RIBA requirements, and enables the student to experience a more hands-on approach to architecture.

Part II, is a Masters, Diploma or BArch degree normally taught over a two year period, where it aims to enhance and build upon the students aesthetic and technical knowledge whilst obtaining a deeper understanding of complex projects.

This is then followed by the student’s second (again minimum) one year experience within an architecture practice, under the supervision of a register architect. Here they will start to take on more responsibility, and gain greater exposure to live projects in preparation for the final portion of studying, Part III.

It is worth noting that it is quite uncommon for a student to go straight into a Part III course within just one year of completing Part II, unless they have already gained sufficient experience.

Part III is the final part of the UK based architectural student’s processional training, and is the professional examination that must be completed and passed in order to be legally registered as an architect.

Often running part time for 9 months to a year, the course covers project management, English law, regulations, contracts and methods of procurement’s, rounding off all of the previous years’ experience.

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definition of architect

Architect salary

The average salaries for architects varied by country due to differences in living costs, currency values, and local market conditions.

Keep in mind that these figures can and will change, and actual salaries can vary based on factors like experience, location within the country, specialization, and more. Here are some rough estimates:

  1. United States: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for architects is around $80,750.
  2. United Kingdom: According to data from the Office for National Statistics, the average annual salary for an architect in the UK is approximately £42,000.
  3. Australia: According to Payscale, architects in Australia made an average salary of around AUD $70,000.
  4. Canada: The average salary for architects in Canada is about CAD $75,000 per year according to data from Payscale.

Why someone would use an architect

As licensed professionals, architects are required to be competent in their work and maintain a high level of understanding. This is maintained by keeping up to date with everything in and around the industry through continuing professional development (CPD).

CPD learning often comes in the form of lectures, seminars and workshops that are delivered by other construction professionals and bodies.

This ensures that an architect is kept up to date with all of the latest legislation, construction techniques, and materials to name a few …maintaining their knowledge and skill sets that are relevant to their professional work.

Another key benefit is that all registered architects must hold and maintain the adequate and appropriate professional indemnity insurance (PII).

The level of insurance is dependent on the type of work the architect carries out, but they are expected to always have the cover for the highest size and nature of the projects they undertake.

The importance of architects

Do we really need architects?

  • Architects and sustainability: Architects play a crucial role in designing buildings and structures that are energy-efficient, use sustainable materials, and promote the overall well-being of the inhabitants. They use a variety of strategies to reduce a building’s environmental impact, such as incorporating green roofs, solar panels, and other sustainable features.
  • Architects and building codes: Architects must be knowledgeable of the local, state, and national building codes and regulations that govern the design and construction of buildings and structures. They must ensure that their designs meet these codes and regulations to ensure the safety and well-being of the occupants.
  • Architects and community development: Architects work closely with community members and organizations to design buildings and structures that are responsive to the needs of the community and promote social cohesion. They also play an important role in urban planning, helping to create livable and sustainable communities.
  • Architects and urban planning: Architects and urban planners work together to create livable and sustainable communities. They are responsible for designing and planning the built environment in a way that is responsive to the needs of the community and promotes social cohesion, while also being mindful of the impact on the environment.

Architects are instrumental in shaping the built environment and play a vital role in creating livable, sustainable, and safe communities.

They are responsible for designing and planning buildings and structures that meet the specific needs of their clients and the community, while also being mindful of their environmental impact.

definition of an architect

What defines a good architect?

A good architect possesses a combination of skills, traits, and expertise that allows them to create functional, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing designs. Here are several characteristics that define a good architect:

  1. Strong Design Skills: A good architect should have a keen eye for design and be able to conceptualize and visualize structures in both functional and aesthetic terms. They should be able to create designs that are not just beautiful, but also practical and fit the needs of their clients.
  2. Technical Proficiency: This involves a deep understanding of building sciences, construction techniques, building materials, and architectural software such as AutoCAD and BIM (Building Information Modelling) tools. They should be well-versed with all the technicalities related to the construction process and be able to prepare detailed drawings that can be understood and executed by the construction team.
  3. Problem-Solving Skills: Every project will come with its own set of unique challenges – from site constraints, to budget limitations, to specific client demands. An architect must be able to provide creative and practical solutions to these issues.
  4. Sustainability Awareness: As we move towards more environmentally conscious practices, architects need to consider the ecological impact of their designs. This includes understanding and implementing green building practices, such as using sustainable materials and incorporating energy-efficient systems into their designs.
  5. Excellent Communication Skills: They should be able to clearly convey their ideas and designs, as well as listen and respond to the needs and concerns of others.
  6. Project Management Skills: They need to be able to manage time, resources, and people effectively. This includes understanding the project timeline, staying within the budget, and ensuring that the project is completed to the client’s satisfaction.
  7. Professionalism and Ethics: Good architects uphold a high level of professionalism and abide by a code of ethics. This includes maintaining confidentiality, being honest and transparent, and prioritizing the safety and welfare of the public in their designs.
  8. Adaptability: Architecture is a dynamic field with evolving trends, technologies, and regulations. A good architect should be open to learning, adaptable to change, and always striving for improvement.

To sum up…

Architects play a critical role in shaping the built environment and creating livable, sustainable, and safe communities.

They are responsible for designing and planning buildings and structures that meet the specific needs of their clients and the community, while also being mindful of their environmental impact.

Additionally, Architects must have a deep understanding of the local, state, and national building codes and regulations, as well as sustainable design principles.

The work of architects is essential to creating livable and functional spaces that are responsive to the needs of the community and promote social cohesion.

what does architect mean

FAQ’s about the meaning and definition of an architect

What defines an architect?

An architect is a professional who designs and plans the construction of buildings and other structures. They are responsible for creating functional, attractive, and sustainable designs that meet the specific needs of the client and the community, while also being mindful of their environmental impact.

Architects must have a deep understanding of the local, state, and national building codes and regulations, as well as sustainable design principles.

They must also have a professional degree in architecture, such as a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) or a Master of Architecture (M.Arch) and must be licensed by the state or country in which they practice.

Additionally, continuing education is also a requirement to maintain an architect’s license and stay current with the latest industry standards and building codes.

What are the 3 types of architects?

As discussed above, there are many types of architects, who specialize in different areas of design and construction. However, some of the main types of architects include:

Residential architects specialize in creating designs for single-family homes, multi-unit housing, and other types of residential buildings. They collaborate with clients to understand their needs and preferences, and then develop designs that are functional, visually appealing, and sustainable.

Commercial architects are responsible for designing and planning a wide range of non-residential buildings, such as office buildings, shopping centers, hotels, and other types of commercial structures.

They must have a thorough understanding of the specific requirements of the commercial sector and work in collaboration with other professionals, such as engineers and contractors, to ensure that their designs meet safety standards and comply with building codes.

Landscape architects specialize in designing and planning outdoor spaces, such as parks, gardens, and other types of public spaces. They work in conjunction with architects and urban planners to ensure that their designs complement and enhance the surrounding built environment.

It’s worth noting that there are many other types of architects who specialize in specific areas, such as historical preservation, healthcare architecture, and sustainable design, and that some architects may also cross over into multiple areas and may not be strictly limited to one type of architecture.

What is the purpose of an architect?

The purpose of an architect is to design and plan the construction of buildings and other structures, ensuring that they are functional, attractive, and sustainable.

Architects are responsible for creating designs that meet the specific needs of the client and the community, while also being mindful of the environmental impact of the building.

Architects work closely with other professionals such as engineers, contractors, and urban planners, to ensure that their designs meet building codes and regulations and are safe for the occupants.

Additionally, architects play a crucial role in shaping the built environment and promoting sustainable design principles.

They also can be involved in urban planning, helping to create livable and sustainable communities.

What makes someone an architect?

To be considered an architect, an individual typically must have a professional degree in architecture, such as a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) or a Master of Architecture (M.Arch) from an accredited university.

Additionally, they must be licensed by the state or country in which they practice, which typically requires passing a professional licensing exam and meeting other requirements such as a certain amount of professional experience.

Architects must also have a deep understanding of building codes and regulations, as well as sustainable design principles.

They must have the ability to design and plan buildings and other structures that are functional, attractive, and sustainable, as well as the ability to work closely with other professionals such as engineers and contractors to ensure that their designs meet safety standards and comply with building codes.

It’s worth noting that the specific requirements for becoming an architect can vary by country and region and some places may have different requirements for becoming an architect.

Is architect an engineer or designer?

An architect can be seen as both a designer and an engineer, but their role is unique and differs from traditional design and engineering roles.

As a designer, architects are responsible for planning and creating designs for buildings and other structures. They conceptualize the aesthetic aspects of a building, focusing on its appearance and the experience of the people who will be using it.

They think about space utilization, and how light, color, texture and other elements will interact to create an environment.

However, an architect’s work also involves aspects of engineering. They must understand the structural elements of a building, including the strength of materials, and the physical laws that govern how buildings stand up.

They have to ensure that their designs meet safety standards, and that they are feasible to construct in real-world conditions. They need to integrate various systems like HVAC, plumbing, electrical, etc. into their designs.

So, while an architect incorporates elements of both design and engineering in their work, they do so in a way that is unique to the architectural profession.

Furthermore, it should be noted that while architects need to understand engineering principles, their training and focus is different from that of a professional engineer. Similarly, while architects are designers, their work differs in scope and nature from professions that are purely design-focused.

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