Architecture and engineering are two professions that often confuse a lot of people. While these two do share parallel objectives, they run a whole gamut of contrasts that range from abstract to tangible, explains an experienced architect in Sutherland Shire, Couvaras. Knowing the difference between architect and engineer is crucial especially when it entails decision making such as which career to take or which specialist to hire for a job.
What Is an Architect?
The Royal Architecture Institute of Canada describes an architect as “a professional who is qualified to design and provide advice — both aesthetic and technical – on built objects in our public and private landscapes”.
This description, of course, proffers only a minuscule view into what really goes on in the life of an architect including the tasks, skills, and knowledge that the profession requires. RAIC enumerates vital skills and qualities that an architect must possess: artistic imagination and creative vision; practical and technical knowledge; and interpersonal skills, psychological understanding, and ethical practice.
What Is an Engineer?
The National Society of Professional Engineers provides a detailed definition of “professional engineer” and “practice of engineering” per state. This is so that people have a clear understanding of the responsibilities and the scope of accountability that the job entails.
In the state of California, a professional engineer is defined as “a person engaged in the professional practice of rendering service or creative work requiring education, training and experience in engineering sciences and the application of special knowledge of the mathematical, physical and engineering sciences in such professional or creative work as consultation, investigation, evaluation, planning or design of public or private utilities, structures, machines, processes, circuits, buildings, equipment or projects, and supervision of construction for the purpose of securing compliance with specifications and design for any such work”.
If that, to you, sounds like a rather lengthy description of what an engineer is and does, that is because engineers are responsible for the structures and technologies that man has been utilizing since the ancient times.
Engineering has existed even before man had coined a term for it in 1390—imagine the sophistication of the Pyramids of Egypt, constructed 2630-2611 B.C. Fast forward to the 21st century, engineering spans about a dozen and a half areas of discipline including civil engineering, environmental engineering, computer hardware engineering, and aerospace engineering.
What Is the Difference between Architect and Engineer?
In the field of construction, an architect and an engineer work hand in hand to ensure a structure that is aesthetic, safe and functional. The architect is responsible for the creative design of a building while the engineer has the task of planning out the safe construction of the former’s design by means of determining the equipment and procedures to use.
NewSchool of Architecture & Design illustrates the remarkable differences between architect and engineer:
1. Dominant side of the brain
An architect is guided by his/her right brain— artistic, creative and a theoretical thinker; while an engineer is dominated by the left brain— precise, mathematical and a system builder.
Form, space and, ambiance are the focal point of an architect’s job, while an engineer applies mathematical and scientific principles in order to fulfill the architect’s design plan.
3. Cost Estimation
An architect has to work within a client’s budget, which covers materials, equipment and, labor, while engineers use these factors to evaluate the feasibility of the total project.
4. Project Management
Both the architect and the engineer play the role of project managers with the task of delegating responsibilities among their respective teams. They also facilitate communications between their clients and staff.
5. Math and Physics Expertise
Expertise in math and physics is a critical skill among engineers; they quantify an architect’s creative design and turn it into something that is both tangible and functional. On the other hand, architects must create their design on the premise that all design must be rooted in scientific and mathematical foundations.
Both professions require a license to operate—architects obtain their license upon passing the Architectural Registration Examination while engineers need a Professional Engineer’s License that is specific to their area of specialization.
Both architecture and engineering are a vast profession that can be broken down into areas of specialization. Architecture covers building design and development, urban design, landscape, city planning, graphic design and, interior design.
Engineering encompasses a wider range of specializations, which can be categorized into five main areas: mechanical, structural, electrical, environmental and industrial.
In the debate that pits architects against engineers, on which profession is more important, nobody wins as it is imperative that one works with the other.
Without architects, we might be living in houses and buildings that may be safe and functional but look too drab and uninviting. In contrast, without engineers, we might be living in dwellings that are as pretty as a dream but as safe as cotton candy.