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8 Types of Architects and What They Do

Buzzle Staff
Architects help design and create buildings and other construction projects. In the following story, we enlists 8 types of architects and what they do, in minute detail.
"As an architect you design for the present, with an awareness of the past, for a future which is essentially unknown."
― Norman Foster
Architecture is a field that encompasses the fascinating mixture of art and technology. While the artistic ability is in designing the construction, technology plays a role in creating a live model of how the building will look. Architects need to be multifaceted, with a creative mind and having a keen sense of detail.
We often assume that all the architects working in the different construction projects have the same jobs (essentially, they do), however, there are various kinds of architects, depending on the area of specialization. In the following paragraphs, you will come across the different types of architects and their role and responsibilities.

Architecture - An Introduction

  • The field of architecture revolves mainly around designing and constructing enormous structures.
  • The structures vary - there are residential complexes, office buildings, hotels, resorts, industries, factories, schools, colleges, apartment buildings, heritage structures, hospitals, mansions, row houses, condominiums, etc.
  • Accordingly, the architects vary as well. Even though the underlying principle of construction is the same, there is a certain pattern to be followed while constructing a hotel and an office building. Thus, you need to hire the right architect for the right project.
  • In general, the job of an architect can be divided into three main phases - the conceptual phase, the artistic phase, and the building phase.
  • In the conceptual phase, the architect builds a plan in mind. He decides the concept, the external design, the layout, and the structure.
  • In the artistic phase, the architect devotes his time to create the design.
  • Whatever he has visualized in mind, will be brought forth to paper via this phase. He makes use of various tools and software to achieve this.
  • In the building phase, the architect works on creating live 3-D models of the design.
  • He will concentrate on how to build the structure. He will help decide about the material, construction method, and other strategies.
  • This phase will be going on simultaneously while the building is being constructed. The architect will schedule meetings with the engineer, study blueprints, and decide on the construction.

Different Types of Architects

Industrial Architect

  • These architects concentrate on the industrial buildings.
  • Industrial buildings include hydroelectric power stations, textile factories, compressor industries, dams, bridges, banks, warehouses, airports, garages, fuel stations, laboratories, and many other related structures.
  • For this kind of architecture, one needs a lot of technical knowledge about the structures; hence, majoring in civil engineering and then going in for a graduate degree in industrial architecture is a better choice.
  • Industrial architects develop plans related to these structure, keeping in mind the necessary dimensions and other technical restrictions.
  • These plans are turned over to the contractor, who also studies and approves them accordingly.
  • The designs are further elaborated, discussed, and changed as per newer specifications (overcrowding, lighting, accessibility, etc.).
  • The final blueprint is given to the contractor, and after his approval, the construction begins.

`Residential Architect

  • A residential architect designs plans for residential projects. These include apartment buildings, condominiums, brownstones, studio flats, palatial mansions, bungalows, etc.
  • The demands for such structures are very high as of today; every homeowner wants his house to be designed in the most beautiful and unique way possible.
  • These architects report every phase of their work to the homeowner; after all, the choice of design needs to meet the approval of the client.
  • A lot of scope is available in this kind of architecture; professionals can experiment with a variety of creative design plans and beautify the private dwelling in beautiful taste.
  • A residential architect has to create an entire plan to meet the building specifications, and then concentrate individually on every other aspect that can be modeled.
  • He has to know the local building codes and has to make sure the plan adheres to the set regulations and guidelines.
  • If he is working for a private firm, he has to act as the link between the client and his seniors. He has to report the plans and subsequent changes to both the parties, stay in touch with the builders, conduct periodic meetings, and assess the progress of the work.

Interior Designer

  • An interior designer is not exactly an architect, i.e., he/she need not know the basics of architecture.
  • However, many students of architecture prefer designing the interiors of the buildings and foray into the field immediately.
  • Remember though, that you can become an interior designer with a degree in architecture, but you cannot get into the field of architecture after studying interior design (you will need the architecture degree again, that is). This is because the former involves a lot of technical aspects that are not covered in interior design.
  • As a designer, you will be responsible for beautifying the interiors of houses, hotels, office buildings, resorts, malls, etc.
  • You will decide which element of creativity should go where, whether a pillar is necessary in an area, if a chandelier necessary, how should the arches and awnings be placed, and a million other crucial design aspects.
  • A small change in your design will bring about a major change in the overall structure. You may be required to change your design periodically as well, as per the client's request.
  • You also have to create models on the computer to show them how the design will look like.

Commercial Architect

  • A commercial/public architect is one who designs all the commercial buildings. This includes major office buildings, hotels, resorts, hospital buildings, shopping complexes, etc.
  • They may even design a number of public or government structures.
  • Commercial architects need to draw highly detailed and structured plans, as the projects are very huge.
  • First, the design requirements are formulated. Then, meetings are held with the clients.
  • The initial glitches and difficulties are found out, discussed, and changes are made in the design.
  • Different factors are considered before making the final blueprints, which are given to the contractor.
  • Live models which are of the building are designed and the construction is carried out accordingly.
  • Problems definitely occur during construction, after which the design may be altered to cover up the issues.
  • Commercial architects work onsite as well as in the office. They schedule meetings with every important crew member to keep abreast of the progress in the project.
  • They collaborate with other architects in case they need important suggestions.

Landscape Architect

  • Landscape architecture is one of the latest innovations in the field. This is involved with the construction of outdoor areas - gardens, parks, lawns, sports areas, etc.
  • A landscape architect creates aesthetically soothing areas for the public.
  • He conducts meetings with landscape contractors, decides the type of structure, and discusses other aspects, like whether it is conducive to the environment, if it causes harm to any natural features, etc.
  • He coordinates with the town planners and follows the essential guidelines.
  • He may even be hired for private projects. Many rich people prefer beautifully designed external structures as a status symbol, so the landscape architect is supposed to design the structure as per the wishes of the client.
  • He studies the technical aspects of landscape science and management, and uses the same in designing the structure.
  • He prepares various plans to create a beautiful model and then turns over the plans to the engineer.
  • The engineers as well as other professionals review the plans, give feedback, and after the final approval, the construction is given a green signal.
  • These architects may also work on improving old structures as well as heritage sites.

Software Architect

  • Software architects mostly work in the office, not onsite. They are responsible for designing the different software used for architecture.
  • You must be aware that software languages are essential in order to create actual models of the buildings and other construction areas. This is what a software architect does.
  • He is responsible for creating data-driven software that helps in construction design.
  • He makes use of the latest technology to create different user-friendly software platforms.
  • He functions as a link between the client and the other professionals.
  • He uses codes and other specifications to develop varied software.

Naval Architect

  • He is responsible for designing ships and other water vessels, perhaps even the warehouses at harbors and docks. He also helps design tankers, cargo ships, rescue boats, fishing boats, yachts, ferries, submarines, warships, etc.
  • He makes drawings of the different patterns and designs of boating vessels.
  • He creates documents and designs that help in research and development.
  • He creates different graphics and plans of the structures and submits them to the concerned authorities for approval.
  • The designs have to be created keeping a lot of factors in mind; after all, the structure is going to be on water, not on land.
  • Other factors like material needed, construction staff, etc. are also to be decided and discussed by the naval architect, after collaborating with the other professionals.
  • He undertakes a risk analysis and decides the safety and security of the project.
  • He decides the factors, like the strength and durability of the structure, and prepares the designs accordingly.
  • He undertakes project management and offers technical guidance.
  • A naval architect may obtain a degree in architecture and then specialize in ships and similar structures, or he could obtain a degree in naval engineering and obtain a graduate certificate in naval architecture. The field has plenty of options.

Environmental Architect

  • Green architecture is a developing field these days, due to the increasing global warming and pollution issues.
  • An architect who specializes in green architecture is called environmental architect.
  • He ensures that whatever structures need to be designed and constructed, none of them affect the environment in any way.
  • He studies environmental science and helps clients incorporate green features into their buildings.
  • These features include underground rooms, solar panels, and many others that help save energy and reduce costs.
  • He creates the design of the building keeping all these factors in mind. Then, he collaborates with the technical experts to create the right ambiance for the building.
  • Everything that is added or removed from the design is done based on how much nature is being affected.
  • Many government buildings are also increasingly following the concept of green architecture so as to encourage the masses.


  • If you are interested in carving out a career in the field of architecture, you need to pass your high school diploma with decent grades. In fact, you need more than average grades in subjects, like physics, mechanics, etc.
  • After your post-secondary education, you can opt for a degree in architecture, wherein you will learn all the ins and outs of the trade.
  • You will also need to choose your specialization. You can either opt for an internship/job after your Bachelor's degree, or go in directly for a Master's, as per your requirement.
  • You may even complete a related college degree program and then opt for a special certificate architecture program in your area of expertise. For example, to be a software architect, you can complete a degree in computers and then choose to do a graduate degree program in software architecture.
  • As an architect, you need to be well-versed with CADD (Computer-Aided Design and Drafting) software, as well as other hardware and software platforms.
  • Whatever type of architecture you choose, you need to have your basics clear. You need to know blueprint technology, codes and regulations, modeling languages, graphics, data-driven software, etc.
  • Apart from the educational qualifications, you need to have a natural eye for aesthetics and creativity.
  • The salary range of architects varies as per the location, area of expertise, experience, and the project in hand. On an average though, the payment is more than USD 75,000 annually.
  • At a higher position, architects are paid more than USD 150,000. In fact, architects who are a part of entrepreneurial ventures with a lot of private contacts, may even earn more than USD 200,000 per year.
  • The salary range of an industrial architect varies as per the location, experience, and the project in hand. On an average though, he is paid approximately more than USD 75,000, which increases with experience and expertise.
An architect has other job ventures beside his primary job as well. Experienced architects may rise up the ladder and become project managers, independent consultants, private instructors, and even entrepreneurs. Some may even choose to be real estate developers, contractors, developers, building inspectors, material testing specialists, structural engineers, etc. The field of architecture is, thus, a behemoth of varied job designations.