Solid Technical Abilities
Many components go into the design and construction of a building. Besides the actual structural framework that encloses the space, a design also must take into account all of the technologies that make modern buildings livable, such as heating, air conditioning, ventilation, lighting, electrical wiring, plumbing, and fire protection systems. Competent architects must have a solid background in all of these technical areas in order to oversee the work that the architectural engineers and other specialists they hire will actually perform.
Architectural engineering involves applying basic engineering principles and technologies to the design and construction of buildings. It encompasses the structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing fields.
Structural engineering concentrates on making sure that buildings satisfy certain safety or performance criteria. For example, buildings in earthquake-prone areas must be built in such a way as to withstand seismic activity without collapsing. Mechanical engineering involves the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, as well as plumbing and rain gutters. Simple fire protection systems such as sprinklers are usually included in plumbing designs, although specialists known as fire protection engineers are used for more complicated projects. Electrical engineering encompasses the lighting, power distribution, telecommunication, and fire alarm systems.
Most architecture schools offer classes that give an overall grounding in the basic principles of these fields. Architectural engineering can also be studied as a separate, integrated field of study for those who wish to specialize in that discipline.
Last Updated: 04/30/2013