What Does An Architect Do?     



Architects design all kinds of buildings. They design schools and skyscrapers. They design hospitals and hotels. They also design churches, train stations, and plain old, regular houses. Any building that is used by people, was probably designed by some architect. Okay then, but what does the word “design” mean? A design is simply a plan. Before constructing a building, an architect needs to draw a plan of the building. Sometimes architects will make a cardboard or plastic model of the building. The building is then built by a construction company, which follows the directions of the plans for the building. The architect will closely supervise the construction company, to make sure that the building is built according to the plans.


So what exactly does an architect do, when he or she draws up a plan? Architects have to think of many things before they draw up the plans for a building. First, they have to think about what the building will be used for. How many people are going to use the building at the same time? What types of activities will these people do in the building? An office building will need lots of small rooms for offices. A school will need many medium-sized rooms for classrooms. And a train station will need one very large room, for hundreds of people to pass through at the same time.


All of these buildings must be built, so that they can be used efficiently by everyone who walks through their doors. When architects discuss what the building will be used for, they talk about the “function” of the building. But the function of a building is just one of many things that an architect has to think about, when designing a building. Good architects also spend a lot of time making sure that a building is safely designed, and ensuring that the building will last for many years. A building that is not safely designed, could catch on fire, or fall down on itself.


Architects also have to design buildings so that people can escape from the building in case of an emergency. Of course, some emergencies, such as earthquakes or tornadoes, destroy even the safest buildings. A few years ago, one architect had a real surprise, when one of the buildings that he had designed, collapsed under the weight of a foot of wet snow. The building was a sports arena, with a large curved roof. The heavy snow put so much pressure on the roof, that the roof collapsed. Luckily, nobody was in the sports arena at the time.


Besides thinking about the function and safety of a building, architects also spend time creatively thinking about how they want the building to look. Just as a painter decides which paints, to put where, in a painting, an architect decides where to put the rooms, walls, and open spaces in a building. And just as different painters have different styles of painting, different architects have different styles of designing. One architect might like to use a lot of circles and curves in his or her buildings. Another architect might like to design buildings that look sleek and flat.


So, architects have to be good artists, and good scientists, when they design a building. The building must be pleasant to look at, comfortable to work in, and strong enough to be safe from most natural disasters. Trying to do all of these things at the same time, is part of the challenge and excitement of being an architect.


1. An architect…
   a) builds buildings
   b) designs buildings
   c) buys buildings

2. Sometimes architects make plastic or cardboard models of the building so:
   a) they can have something to play with
   b) to show a 3-dimensional idea of what the finished building will look like
   c) their kids can play with it

3. When architects design buildings they need to consider:
   a) what the building is going to be used for
   b) what color is going to look best
   c) how to make it really big

4. One of the most important things that architects need to consider when designing a building is:
   a) how expensive it is
   b) how much money they can save on it
   c) how safe it is

5. When designing a building, good architects have their own:  
   a) creative style
   b) special drawing tools
   c) assistants

6. A well-designed building must be attractive, comfortable to work in, and:
   a) very tall
   b) very expensive
   c) safe from natural disasters