The Case for Architects
Article by Scott Shonk, Principal Architect – Originally Published in the Central Pennsylvania Business Journal
American culture has promoted and encouraged an appreciation of design in the past few decades.
From PBS’s “This Old House” and TLC’s “Trading Spaces” to the recent “Fixer Upper” on HGTV, the American public is increasingly aware of the benefits of design. As a result, many people are attempting DIY projects and flipping houses, improving aesthetics through cosmetics changes and decorating — moving a space to become more than just a room with four walls.
This receptiveness to
design is an opportunity to discuss architecture and for architects to
demonstrate their value to the design process. Architects are one set of
professionals truly trained in design and problem-solving. From challenges early
in the design phase to facing unforeseen conditions occurring on-site during
construction, architects find solutions.
Good design can bring added value to your investment.
Architects apply design principles holistically so that spaces and building components fit well together. And, they consider the effects of potential future phases.
Good design can positively affect how you live and work.
Detailed programming leads to maximizing the efficiency of the space for a project’s uses so buildings function well. Determining a solid initial program allows rooms to be sized correctly during space planning early in the design. How occupants move into and through spaces and room adjacencies are addressed. Buildings are tailored for their owner with efficient and flexible layouts.
Good design creates safe environments.
As most projects
require a building permit, construction drawings will need to be sealed by a
design professional, a licensed architect, registered in Pennsylvania. (Note
that engineers can also seal drawings, but this typically applies to work
related to their area of expertise.) The architect is trained and experienced
in using the ever-changing building codes and brings that knowledge to the
design from the initial sketches.
Having a code-compliant
design smooths the entire process, as plans can be approved promptly and
surprises from inspectors are minimized. If there are structural impact
considerations or security concerns, the architect will address them up-front.
Good design can be green and earth-friendly.
The benefits of
creating sustainable and environmentally friendly buildings are publicly
acknowledged. Many architects encourage integrative design where building
encompasses maximized thermal performance, energy-efficient mechanical and
electrical systems are provided, and passive solar features may be included.
Good design can be
Construction is a complex process, and there are hundreds of design decisions in every project.
The architect can
navigate a client through this process by leading and coordinating engineers,
consultants, zoning officers, banks, building code officials, contractors and
subcontractors. Architects have built good relationships with these groups,
which can help a client new to the process feel more at ease. And architects
have the knowledge to recognize and minimize potential problems before they
seriously affect the budget.
Good design benefits from extensive training.
education initially includes five years at an accredited university (or seven
years if the accredited degree is from a master’s program). An internship,
working under the direct supervision of an architect, follows this for several
years. All six sections of the national exam must be passed before an architect
is licensed. A decade can easily pass before an architect begins to practice
Good design is an economical investment.
Some people skip
talking to an architect to save money due to the perception that working with
an architect is too expensive. In reality, architectural fees are typically not
excessive, and architects can provide services to fit the needs and budget of
And, in return for
your investment, architects provide great design.