The Important Skill to be Successful in Architecture, Design, and Construction

The profession of architecture requires many qualities and skills of the practitioner.

When considering the most important skill for a successful architect it was not difficult to come to a conclusion. While there are many important skills the preeminent skill is that of COMMUNICATION. The ability to communicate the concepts, ideas, and requirements to the various parties involved is paramount for the architect. Communication within the realm of architecture transcends the mere exchange of ideas and information; it is the bedrock upon which successful projects are conceived, developed, and brought to fruition. For those unfamiliar with the intricate workings of this profession, understanding the significance of effective communication can unveil the profound impact it has on shaping our built environment.

At its core, architecture is a collaborative endeavor that involves a diverse array of stakeholders – architects, engineers, clients, contractors, and specialists from various disciplines. Each brings a unique perspective and expertise to the table, contributing to the multifaceted process of designing and constructing buildings. Each unique perspective comes various priorities and diverse languages.

The forms of communication will vary throughout the day as an architect. The architect is the hub of the design and construction world. Thereby they need to communicate with all the constituents involved in a project – of which there are many.

The architect defines the vision of an owner. Using verbal and graphical mediums to work through the possibilities until a concept becomes a tangible artifact. The architect must be able to listen to the clients’ needs and wants and translate these ideas into floor plans and renderings. Most importantly the architect must share the creation of these images in a way that the client will understand. Clearly communicating these artifacts to the client is paramount and needs to be understood by the client in their own language. The language of the client is individualized to their exposure to the construction field, interest in architecture, and experience with design. A client building home with no prior experience in floor plans, renderings, and other graphics will need more explanation of these artifacts. The floor plans and graphics may be combined with other verbal and written communication to facilitate the conversation. The architect will possess the skill for understanding 2-dimensional drawings as a 3-dimensional object – but more important is the architect being able to convey the drawings to the client in a medium they will comprehend.

The architect must then translate this vision and concept to the other members of the design team to coordinate and develop the idea into definable products, materials, colors, mechanisms, and equipment. The architect must speak the language of the engineers to develop drawings. Throughout this process, the architect will continue to relate back to the client the progress of the various engineering disciplines. The architect becomes the spokesman for the project ensuring that the client will understand the product that is being designed. Often the client will be made up of many constituents that include the end-user, housekeeping, and maintenance. Each of these client groups will have their own language along with their own priorities and concerns. The architect will communicate with each of the groups and ensure that the product is fulfilling the various needs. All of this coordination and communication is to bring about a set of construction documents which need to be in the language of the contractor. All the efforts with the client and the engineers are set forth for the main goal of getting a building built. The construction documents combine graphics, written specifications, physical samples, and any other method of translating the vision into a useable building.

Between the creation of the design and the construction beginning lies the various municipal parties. The architect will need to communicate with city planners, plan reviewers, fire marshals, and other civil servants. These languages will be different from the others although using the same methods of graphics, verbal, and written artifacts. The civic representatives will bring their own perspective of looking at the building within a larger context rather than the building to the internal functions. The architect must again translate the various priorities into forms that are understood by the civic representatives and the owner to ensure that all zoning, code, and municipal rules are adhered to.

Communicating with the contractor is the preeminent language the architect must speak. Although the responsibility of the architect will continue throughout the construction it will be rare that the architect is at the construction site every day inspecting the myriads of activities going on at all times. The parties will be reliant on the construction documents to guide the construction process. And, as questions arise the communication will continue. There will be ongoing forms of communication through written, verbal, and graphic means. Ultimately culminating in the finished product of a useable function building which meets the original vision set forth by the client at the onset of the project.

The final aspect of communication in the project is the post occupancy reports. This is the opportunity for the architect to understand how the project met the vision. To understand how all the efforts to communicate a vision into a building are being used in reality. This is the opportunity to review with the client how the expectations are met. This is the chance to understand the good and the bad of the building to be able to implement better communication in the next project.

The foundational skill of communication runs throughout the life cycle of a project and a career. The imperative skill of being able to listen, respond, and ensure that ideas are understood touches all aspects of architecture. From clients to colleagues to contractors, the necessity of being able to communicate with all parties is what gets buildings built.


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