As fashion designers are thoroughly trained in the art of design and tailoring clothes, architectural designers are trained over a five-year period in the design and construction aspects of building. The designer uses artistic talent, mathematical skill and patience to see her dream go from paper to reality.
Architectural designers are licensed professionals in the field. A bachelor's degree in architecture is usually required plus three years minimum of on-the-job training. Interns assist in research, prepare architectural documents and drawings, and build models. To be certified, the Architect Registration Examination is required once training is completed . Each state has its own licensing regulations.
Architects plan and design private residences, office buildings, factories, highways, theaters and other public buildings. One may specialize in a single type of building, like hospitals or schools. Designers are only limited by their imagination. Others may break out of the design elements and focus on the planning or construction management phases.
The design aspect of any building project is the initial stage of planning, coming after extensive research into the client's needs. Architects create the exterior and interior appearance of a structure, making sure it is functional, safe, fits within the budget and location, and works for the people who will utilize the space. They must follow building, fire and zoning codes within the design. Hand sketches and illustrations may be done, but final design and construction drawings are normally drafted using computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software.
Along with visual presentations, architectural designers must specify every detail of how the building is constructed, from the smallest screw to its interior finishes. These specifications are regulated by local, state and federal agencies.
Long after the designs are completed, architectural designers may be involved in the entire construction phase by managing contractors and landscape architects. The architect's vision melding with the client's needs takes a great deal of time on- and off-site.
According to the federal Occupational Outlook Handbook, many architects work in comfortable conditions. They spend time in the office speaking with clients, designing, drawing, researching and on- site reviewing construction progress. According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Firms Survey in 2003, one-third of architectural practices are sole-practitioners, while firms with more than 100 architects are scarce, making up 2 percent overall.
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