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What Is A Commercial Architect?

For commercial structures, such as offices and warehouses, retail outlets and shopping centers, rail and air stations, hospitals, hotels, and sports and leisure facilities, commercial architects prepare designs and specifications. They do not build single-occupancy houses, which residential architects are responsible for. According to the U.S., architects held around 113,700 jobs in 2010, and work opportunities are expected to rise by 24 percent from 2010 to 2020. Labor Statistics Bureau.



Commercial architects need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in architecture from a National Architectural Accrediting Board approved university or college program. According to the Education Site, the programs usually take five years and concentrate on topics such as building design, structural structures, computer-aided design and construction materials. Prior to taking the Architect Registration Test, graduates must then complete a three-year practical training internship. A state license is only eligible for applicants who pass all seven parts of the test.


Internship Experience

All states require architects to complete an internship program or practical training period that complies with the Intern Development Program (IDP) guidelines set up by the National Architectural Registration Board Council (NCARB). Typically, these programs last three years, during which interns function under the supervision of a licensed architect.


Architect Registration Examination

Prospective commercial architects can take the Architect Registration Examination upon completion of an internship (ARE). The 7-part test, produced by NCARB, consists of multiple-choice and graphic vignette questions based on topics such as site planning, schematic design and building documents. In order to be qualified for a license, applicants must pass all seven parts of the test.


Client Liaison

Architects meet customers at the beginning of a project to discuss their specifications. Initial plans are prepared and delivered by architects, usually in the form of a sketch design. Feasibility analyses or site findings can also be integrated into the initial proposals. They maintain contact with the customer as the project proceeds, including comprehensive designs, requirements, budgets and schedules. They provide progress updates to the client and schedule meetings to address any concerns that arise during the process of design or construction.


Design Coordination

Commercial architects may themselves carry out detailed design creation or coordinate a design team's work. They prepare, if necessary, detailed drawings and scale models. The design input of professionals, such as structural engineers, electrical and plumbing engineers, lighting and interior designers and heating and ventilation engineers, is often organized by architects. They ensure that all design features comply with the regulations for construction, fire, and health and safety. Architects prepare detailed requirements and contract documents from the approved designs that form the basis for obtaining contractors' estimates.


Project Management

Architects can advise customers on the choice of contractors and assist them in negotiating contract terms. Commercial architects may organize and supervise the work of contractors and sub-contractors during the construction process, setting quality standards for the project. To ensure that the project is finished on time and within budget, they set deadlines, monitor progress and manage contracts.


2016 Salary Information for Architects

According to the United States, architects received a total annual salary of $76,930 in 2016. Labor Statistics Bureau. Architects earned a 25th percentile pay of $59,000 at the low end, which means that 75 percent earned more than this amount. The income for the 75th percentile is $99,790, which means that 25 percent earn more. 128,800 individuals were working as architects in the U.S. in 2016.

Are You Looking for an Architecture Firm to Design Your Office?

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