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Difference Between Architect and Structural Engineer

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Many of the towering skyscrapers today start its vision from group or individual’s brilliant minds. The builders in reality are referred to owners, government and developers but architects and engineers are both responsible for bringing a design concept from drawing board to completion. Though architects and structural engineers are both fields of specialization in the construction industry, they work together to produce efficient modern buildings.

Do architects and structural engineers have any differences? Nowadays, both of these professions perform wide range of activities in the project implementations and construction supervision. The roles of these two different professions should be clearly understood. To identify a group or individual who practices this profession, they should have license to practice according to existing state laws.

Architects and structural engineers are both equipped with proper training and gained enough years of experience to enhance their credibility. First is the different in terms of nature or scope of work. Architects are mainly responsible for how the building will look like from inside and outside while structural engineers are more concern on the skeletal aspect and stability of the building. Though architects are often associated with the term “maestro” due to their oversight function on the project, most technical aspects and building safety relies much on the shoulders of the engineers. Architectural work covers from building design, material specifications, client coordination, and building functionality as a whole. Structural engineering works covers several fields of trades such as mechanical engineering, electrical systems, water supply and sewerage systems, fire suppression systems, acoustic and lighting aspects and other technical matters second is the purpose or role of the profession. Architects are directly concern with building aesthetic, color and material to be used, space appropriation related to personal or business needs of clients and its overall functionality. Structural engineers on the other hand, directly oversees building ability to withstand strong seismic forces, concentrated loads because of the building use and building safety for the general public. Third is the coverage of its training and education background. Architects and engineers are required to gain sufficient training for their respective fields. They do perform separate work. Architects usually gain experience from architectural design firms while engineers are exposed on site visits, structural calculations, project scheduling, manpower and equipment handling and others.

Another difference between them is branches or field of specialization. Architects primarily covers all fields of construction including various engineering scopes, landscaping, urban planning, client representation and construction management. Structural engineers on the other hand are expected to perform various engineering fields, quality control, safety inspection, building site security (including public safety outside of the building perimeters.

Lastly, they have difference in terms site development context. Architects are primarily responsible for utilizing land usage, relationship between buildings, occupant or human traffic flow (including transportation)traffic), spaces appropriated inside a building. Structural engineers on the other hand, performs the same role on each building and other facilities within the site. However, some of these functions can mix up due to the demand of the project. Both architect and engineers are equally important to ensure strict implementation of the project bounded by existing laws and building codes

To summarize the key difference between two great professions that shapes our modern cities,

Here are the points:

  1. Nature and scope of work
  2. Architects are concerned with aesthetic and functionality of spaces, engineers are for building strength and safety.
  3. Scope of training and educational background
  4. Team leadership, expertise and management scope
  5. Site development overviews

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1 Comment

  1. Good article however it is incomplete. Although architects and engineers generally end up doing different work in the building realm, what is legally allowed for them to do is a bit different. Here in California (other states may vary), the Architect of Record is legally allowed to do any and all engineering on his project except the structural design of a hospital. (Wise ones hire specialists.) Licensed professional engineers legally can do all aspects of architectural work, in turn, if they wish. There are exemptions in each others Acts. However, there are special carve outs for geotechnical engineering and surveying. Only engineers especially trained and licensed in these areas can do those jobs. (They had more effective lobbying of the Legislature.) Architects design about 10% of buildings, engineers 90%. Architects are educated in engineering (somewhat); engineers are not educated in architecture (not at all!) I have degrees in both (civil/structural & architecture.)

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References :


[0]http://work.chron.com/differences-between-structural-engineer-architectural-engineer-3823.html

[1]http://jthomaseng.info/the-difference-between-a-structural-engineer-and-an-architect

[2]http://www.aleckassociates.co.uk/do-you-need-an-engineer/

[3]http://pixabay.com/en/architect-documentation-documents-254579/

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