What is an Architect and What Does an Architect Do?

by Eric Connolly, B.Arch, MOAA, MRAIC

An Architect is a person or entity registered and licensed to use the title "Architect" and to practice architecture in the Province of Ontario. Architects are qualified to design and provide advice on built forms in the both the public and private domains.

The process of “building making” is both a science and an art form which combines artistic imagination and scientific vision to design objects in space through form, light, texture, materials and colour. “Building Making” has become complex stemming from complicated Client Structures, Construction Organizations, New Building Techniques and Building Science, Legal Responsibilities, Public Safety and Ethics.

Architects can be described as Conductors who orchestrate all of the various goals and participants involved with creating a building form and as Councillors to assist in disparate and conflicting ideas involved in the building process.

There are different kinds of Architects. Some Work with large Architectural Firms, some for Corporations, some as participants in Multi-Disciplinary Consulting Firms, some for Construction or Design Build Companies, some with academic institutions, and some as "sole-practitioners".

I am the latter. I have practiced as an Architect in Halton Hills for 25 years in Downtown Georgetown. I have carried out numerous Building Projects of diverse size and use. Most of my experience falls into the category of Restoration, Renovation, Alterations or Additions to Existing Buildings.

With my in-house staff, I employ additional technologists as may be required. As with most "sole practitioners" I provide my Clients with a complete range of Sub-Consultants including:

  • Planning
  • Structural Engineering
  • Civil Engineering, Site Servicing , Septic and Grading Engineering
  • Mechanical and Electrical Engineering
  • Quantity Surveying (for Cost Control)
  • Landscape Architects

As a Client, you should try to begin discussion with an Architect(s) as early as possible in the process of implementing a Project. You should consider discussing your Project (big or small) with 2 or 3 Architects and, after explaining your potential Project, ask for References and Letters of Proposal which should outline services, scheduling and Fees.

As a Client you should look into the availability of existing Permits (talk to the Town of Halton Hills Building Department who may have information and/or drawings on file). You should determine if you have a Legal Survey and a Site Plan with Topographic information, information on existing wells or Septic Fields and all other Site Services. You should also check with the Town of Halton Hills Zoning Department to determine if you fall into Conservation Area Boundaries, Niagara Escarpment Boundaries, and the basic Zoning Restrictions including Use, necessary Setbacks and maximum Area Restrictions.

A successful Building Project demands a good Team lead by the Client, the Architect and the General Contractor.