Designing and Management: The Role of an Architect

Designing and Management: The Role of an Architect

Introduction 3

An architect as a construction industry professional 4

The Value of an Architect to the Society 6

Stage 0 to Stage 1: Project Onset 6

Stage 2 to Stage 4: Project Design 7

Stage 5: Project Construction 9

Stage 6 to Stage 7: Project conclusion 10

Conclusion 10

References 12

Designing and Management: The Role of an Architect


Anyone is able to design a structure, and build it either himself or find someone else to do it. Whether it turns out well or foul is another matter. Historically, architects were derived from masons, carpenters, master-builders, and so on (Chappell, 2008). What holds architecture together as a field is based on what the society ascribed to it. As such, becoming an architect today involves a right of initiation – academic qualification. Architecture is a branch of knowledge that is studied in higher education. Previously, the architecture knowledge was highly guarded and passed down to generations via apprenticeships. Today, that knowledge is passed down by attending schools of architecture and then working at a practice until one obtains a license by an accredited professional body (Atkins & Simpson, 2008). The knowledge acquisition process entails picking up building and behavioral codes to enable learners dress, reason, and draw like an architect. Students must also be knowledgeable of punishments, such as fines and prison sentences upon failure to uphold legal and cultural demands of the profession. Accordingly, to uphold the legitimacy of the discipline, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Plan of Work 2013 has organized key processes for architects to brief, design, construct, maintain, operate, and use building projects. The tasks and inputs therein are categorized into 8 stages to ensure architects adhere to the knowledge they obtained in higher education. As professionals in the construction industry, architects are valuable assets for the society as they design buildings, examine construction sites, develop cost estimates, assist in contractor selection, and supervise the project until its completion.

An architect as a construction industry professional

An architect is one of the key professionals in the construction industry who deals with issues of project resources, such as material, equipment, people, money, time, and technology (Smith, 2009). Even so, it is generally perceived that architects’ main role is to design a structure, which includes preparing the appropriate plans and drawings, as well as selecting the appropriate material required for construction of the structure (Chappell & Willis, 2013). It is imperative to state that management of a construction project is a highly challenging and demanding profession. It involves significant number of workers and partnerships. To realize the project objectives, a team of project professionals underpins the successful completion of the construction.

In the current industrialized world with significant technological advances, construction entails translating imaginations into reality (Smith, 2009). The architect uses AutoCAD, a drafting software to develop basic geometry that exemplifies real life (Smith, 2009). In addition, the architect uses Revit to create a geometry equipped with real life information (Vipul et al., 2016). According to Vipul et al. (2016), both software have revolutionized 2D drawings (floor plans, elevations, details, and so on), 3D models and objects, documentation of construction, and rendered images. However, only a design team can ensure that vision is achieved by putting the imagination on paper or a computer, planning the physical requirements, and integrating all resources to deliver an actual tangible construction work (Chappell & Willis, 2013). Usually, the design consists of drawing and putting down specifics, which is done by a design team comprising of an architect, interior designer, surveyor, quantity surveyor, civil engineer, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, and structural engineer.

To promote simultaneous collaboration across the team, the Building Information Modelling (BIM) is used to facilitate refined, feasible, and sustainable end product (Suermann & Issa, 2007). According to Suermann & Issa (2007), the innovative parametric software ensures the efficiency of Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) as the architect can monitor, address, and manage project complexities and demands of designers and contractors. Prior to BIM, efficiency and productivity were barely difficult to meet (Cerovsek, 2011). Cerovsek (2011), points that with the many actors in the building industry, customers’ quality demands could not be achieved with high inefficiency. As such, building professionals today use this technology for the purpose of quality and efficiency in the construction industry (Suermann & Issa, 2007). Overall, in the construction industry, an architect must have a digital background to plan, design, and oversight construction projects.

The professional translates the needs of the user into the requirements of the builder. That means, he or she must meticulously comprehend the building and operations codes ascribed to professionals in the construction industry, ranging from designing to safety (Choi and Kim, 2008). That is why the level of knowledge of an architect has is fundamental. Obtained from higher education, the discipline equips architects to adhere to all construction requirements and produce clear, consistent, and definite services to a client (Atkins & Simpson, 2006). According to Atkins and Simson (2006), it is imperative that an engineer understands and suggests the various construction options available for the client to produce the best results within an explicit time and cost boundaries.

Moreover, the architect observes construction work during different construction phases to ensure that the contractor and subcontractors adhere to the work plan and deliver the project in light of the architect’s design. Apparently, the architect is almost completely familiar with the work at hand, and thus, suitable to report on the overall progress and quality of the job to the owner (Chappell & Willis, 2013). At this point, it is imperative to state that an architect does not achieve all these tasks individually. As such, as a construction professional, an architect fosters teamwork as he or she has to work with a team of project professionals that underpin the successful completion of the construction. The work of architects is to collaborate with local authorities to assess hazards to the community (Burns & Royce, 1994). Thus, architects are significant professionals in ensuring objects, systems, and organizations come together for outstanding infrastructures in the human society.

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The Value of an Architect to the Society

There is no doubt that architects are invaluable assets to the society. According to the RIBA (2013), it was imperative to redefine the responsibilities of an architect to include lead designer, client advisor, building service engineer, cost consultant, and health and safety consultant. This demonstrates that architects are valuable to the society at different stages of a construction project.

Stage 0 to Stage 1: Project Onset

These stages involve strategic definition and preparation and brief (RIBA, 2013). In this stage, the architect’s main responsibility is to establish the business case and strategic brief, among other core project requirements (RIBA, 2013). In addition, the architect facilitates considerations for assembling a project team, establishing project program, and reviewing feedback from previous projects. Furthermore, in the second stage, the architect develops the project objectives. Among other things, they outline the project quality objectives and outcomes, and budgeting. The architect will also review the project program and prepare strategies for ending the project via astute communication channels (RIBA, 2013).

An architect ensures that a contractor and/or subcontractors assigned to set up a construction in a community is reliable (Cerovsek, 2011). In fact, Cerovsek (2011), points that the professional may undertake the responsibility to make reasonable inquiries regarding the (sub)contractors’ solvency and suitability to participate in a community project. In Equitable Debenture Assets Corp. Ltd v William Moss Group Ltd (1984) 2 Con. L.R.1, the judge found the architects liable for making inadequate inquiries regarding the subcontractor who delivered curtain walling.

Another case involving Pratt (Valerie) v George J Hill Associates [1987] 38 BLR 25 CA) further demonstrates that architect have the responsibility to ensure contractors are reliable to deliver outstanding structures. These cases show that architects enhance the confidence of the society on builders assigned construction projects in the community. More so, the architect ensures that the people he or she is working for pay nothing more than what the project costs. This is where integrity comes in. Burns and Royce (1994), notes it is common for an architect to be asked to provide an estimate of what a project is likely to cost. In this responsibility, this professional provides a figure that is reasonable taking into account the impact of inflation and the cost to the society (Burns & Royce, 1994). Additionally, the costs must fit within the budget of the client rather than imposed. As such, an architect ascertains that the estimates provided to clients are within specific limits (Suermann and Issa, 2007). Today, an architect plays an important role in ensuring that infrastructure in the society is built by competent people who do not intend to swindle the client.

Stage 2 to Stage 4: Project Design

This section involves the design – concept design, developed design, and technical design (RIBA, 2013). In the second stage of RIBA Plan Work 2013, the architect prepares a concept design, which incorporates proposals, alongside cost information and project strategies. In the third stage and fourth stage, the architect prepares a developed design and technical design, respectively, incorporating coordination and update of proposals for designs, cost information, strategies, as well as designing a responsibility matrix (RIBA, 2013).

Third party consultation is vital in this design stage for proper risk assessment, sustainability, and ensuring health and safety, and this must be accompanied by reviews and updates of those processes (RIBA, 2013).

Aforementioned, architects have been known for designing construction work. To ensure community safety and aesthetic appeals, an architect prepares the necessary plans and drawings, and selects the right construction material. Needless to say, Chappell (2008), maintains that visual appearance are solely within the coffers of the architect and not the structural engineer. For instance, when a structural engineer works out deflections of a wall, the architect will decide whether the wall with those deflections will be aesthetically satisfactory to the local community upon the end of the project. As earlier stated, architects participate in cost estimation to ensure transparency.

In Nye Saunders &Partners v. Alan E Bristow (1987) 37 BLR 92(CA), Bristow offered architects the responsibility to refurbish his Elizabethan mansion in Surrey. His budget was £250,000 (but the original estimates were £238,000). Over a period of 9 months, the expenditure had shot up to £440,000, and still escalating. The defendant declined to pay the architects and discontinued the project because he believed the architects were supposed to warn him of the effects of inflation. If the architects provided information on inflation, the court would not have ruled that they were negligent. Most imperatively, an architect ensures that construction work done protects the local communities from environmental degradation and the client from construction failures due to poor soil examination (Cerovsek, 2011). Burns & Royce (1994), note that in fact, architects can be held responsible for using inaccurate and correct methods for assessing a site, such as excavation, and soil breaking and removal. Prudent architects examine a site for proposed development project to ensure they provide valuable construction strategies. In the case of Earnes London Estates Ltd vNorth Hertfordshire District Council ((1981)EG 491), the architect designed the foundation of an industrial building, but failed to assess the soil for he assumed it was an embankment of an old railway. His negligence is evident as he specified pier loadings without confirming the breaking capacity of the ground. Besides, when a practical man at the site questioned the adequacy of the foundation depth, he failed to act (Ibid). This reinforced the assertion that the role of an architect goes beyond basically designing a structure to become aware of the potential hazards their project exposes the builders, users, and local communities. In the 21st century, architects ensure their designs are not costly to the community in terms of resources and safety.

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Stage 5: Project Construction

This section entails setting up the project. The role of the architect is to oversite both onsite and offsite construction according to the project program and resolve design issues that arise from the construction site (RIBA, 2013). Besides reviewing the initial project strategies, the architect administers regular site inspections to ensure the construction adheres to both the project program and the law.

Construction professionals has the responsibility to supervise and/or inspect construction work to ensure it adheres to the standards established in the previous stages of the project. An architect provides reasonable supervision to provide an honest record of the project execution (Burns & Royce, 1994). At this point, the architect should highly collaborate with the project team as well as external regulators to ensure construction project is not defective and risky to the lives of the builders, users, and community. In Sutcliffe v Chippendale and Edmondson [1971] 18 BLR149), the trial Judge established that the role of the architect is to supervise the contractor and ensure the project is not defective. In that line, the architect also ensures that the contractor implements health and safety procedures in accordance with the construction industry best practices (Cerovsek, 2011). Through supervision, espoused by RIBA, modern architects ensure that a community receives a quality construction project that is within the budget, with less if not any, casualties.

Stage 6 to Stage 7: Project conclusion

This stage entails finalizing and handing over the project to the client to be used by the intended users. Atkins & Simpson (2008), note that this stage is often neglected. According to the author, many projects fail to have lucid end-points as they do not include sign-offs (Atkins & Simpson, 2008). Architects ensures that clients and the communities are informed that a project has ended, no more work would be carried out, and that the final construction work is ready for use. According to RIBA (2013), the architect not only provides feedback on the project but also updates key project information. Upon the closure of the project, the architect evaluates the project manager’s review, and records points that need to be addressed in the future, as well as the successes of the construction (Vipul et al., 2016). If the project is not closed, the client’s and community resources will continue to be utilized.


Architecture is a discipline that passes down building and construction knowledge to students to equip them with appropriate professional skills from the start to the end of a project. Learners acquire building and behavioral codes to present themselves as professionals in the construction industry. Architects had been sued for acting unprofessionally. Today, architects leverage technology to ensure project efficiency and productivity, with limited damage to the biosphere. As such, architects are valuable to the society as they use digital information to promote sustainability when delivering cutting-edge construction projects.



Atkins, J. B., & Simpson, G. A. (2008). Managing project risk: Best practices for architects and related professionals. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.

Burns, A., & Royce, N. (1994). The legal obligations of the architect. London: Butterworths.

Chappell, D. (2008). Contractual Correspondence for Architects and Project Managers. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons.

Cerovsek, T. (2011). A Review and Outlook for a Building Information Model (BIM): A Multi-Standpoint Framework for Technological Development. Advanced Engineering Informatics, 25, 224-44.

Chappell, D., & Willis, A. (2013). The Architect in Practice. Hoboken: Wiley.

Choi, J., and Kim, I. (2008). An Approach to Share Architectural Drawing Information and Document for Automated Code Checking System. Tsinghua Science and Technology, 13, 171-8.

RIBA (2013). RIBA Plan of Work 2013: Overview. Portland Place, London: RIBA.

Smith, M. (2009). Curating Architectural 3D CAD Models. The International Journal of Digital Curation, 1(4), 98-106.

Suermann, P. C., and Issa, R. R. A. (2007). Evaluating the Impact of Building Information Modeling (BIM) on Construction. Ph.D. dissertation, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

Vipul G., et al. (2016). 3D Modeling of Amity University Noida Campus using Revit Architecture and ArcGIS. International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology, 7(4), 48–61.

Earnes London Estates Ltd vNorth Hertfordshire District Council ((1981)EG 491).

Equitable Debenture Assets Corp. Ltd v William Moss Group Ltd (1984) 2 Con. L.R.1.

Nye Saunders &Partners v. Alan E Bristow (1987) 37 BLR 92(CA).

Pratt (Valerie) v George J Hill Associates [1987] 38 BLR 25 CA) .

Sutcliffe v Chippendale and Edmondson [1971] 18 BLR149).


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