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Am I an Architect ?

We recently posted an article ‘ Building Designers or Architects – 5 Critical Tips to Hiring the Best Team’.   This article raised a question which, we as a business and myself personally, have been posed regularly for some time now.  In this article, we address the common issues or questions that arise when selecting a professional to assist with a new home, renovation or boutique development - irrespective of building designer, architect, building design firms or architecture firms. 

Many people are not clear on why there are two different titles for a role or services which for all intents and purposes are the same.  The issue of the title 'architect' has been discussed ad nauseam, however there continues to be much confusion out in the public.
“Do I need an architect?”
“What do architectural services include?”
"What do building design services include?"
“What is a building designer?”
“Is there a difference between an architect and a building designer?”
“What is the difference between architecturally designed homes and non-architecturally designed homes?”
…..and so on. 

I am a successful business owner who has been a registered Building Designer for 20+ years and have worked alongside and employed other building designers and architect professionals alike.  It is my choice to be a Building Designer and not an architect.  

I had always dreamed of designing and building boutique homes and apartment buildings. Right from a very young age, I had an extremely inquisitive mind and always wanted to know how things were put together.   After completing high school, I did not have the opportunity to attend university full time for 5-6 years.  Instead, I obtained a Diploma in Architectural Design & Building'. I guess I am fortunate to have a strong work ethic and incredible personal drive to be a success.  I started out in my own practice, doing small renovations and factory layouts.  After many years of continued study both professionally and personally, exploration various building types and sites, working with other industry professionals and so on, I have now built a prosperous design practice. 

When writing this article and now my personal blog, I did not wish to imply that one profession is better than or more qualified/skilled than the other…nor to make it sound like I have been hard done by.  My greatest intention is to address any confusion out there. 

Also, to be clear, I am not against architects/architectural practises and pro building designers/building design firms.  I believe that essentially it all comes down to appropriate industry experience and not merely the intial formal education.   The best and brightest minds are often those who have the highest level of observation. 

It is true in fact, that Frank Lyod Wright (often referred to as America’s most renowned 'architect') was neither a registered architect nor an engineer. I find Wright's quote "Harvard takes perfectly good plums as students, and turns them into prunes" very apt!

It is evident through my many years in the building industry that just because you have spent many years at a formal educational institution, it does not mean you are sufficiently equipped to do the job. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for education and bettering ones self.   The point I make is that the title you obtain from an academic institution should not in isolation define you nor your work.   Just because you have a driver's licence, doesn't mean you can drive! 

In many instances, it is assumed that I am an architect or our firm is an architectural design firm.  It is not something we/I promote, just that the term is more well-known and understood than 'Building Designer' or 'Building Design Firm'.  To use the term 'architect', 'architectural' or any other derivative, an individual or firm must have satisfied the legal requirements of the particular state or territory within Australia. 

As ‘architect’, like the term ‘doctor’, is a legally prescriptive word, us Building Designers are left with terms that are a little more challenging (but not impossible) with which to promote our services. 

Hopefully this has given you some insight into the building design industry.   Whether an architect or a building designer it is crucial that relevant skills and experience is considered and not merely considering one or the other because of a title.   Speak with past clients and look at past work to establish whether or not the individual and/or firm is a good fit for you and your project.

Posted by Darren Comber on 21st October, 2012 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks

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