Architects and Engineers Keys to a Successful Relationship

Change is a part of life; and that’s especially true if you’re talking about living in an urban condo community, where no building ever stays the same for too long. Renovations are done, capital improvements are required and even upgrades for building common areas are eventually taken care of.

Regardless of if it’s a unit owner looking to do some remodeling or a building-wide capital improvement program that will affect all residents, odds are that an architect and/or engineer will be part of the process. While architects and engineers perform many parallel functions, the two disciplines are not the same and often they need to work together.

Understanding Distinctions

While some may use the words “architect” and “engineer” without much thought, the two jobs are vastly different and anyone involved with any project should understand what each job entails. True, the two perform many parallel functions, but the two disciplines are not the same even though they frequently work together.

According to the New School of Architecture and Design, architects are responsible for designing the aesthetics and spatial details of a building’s project, and seeing to it that the overall end-use objectives of the client are met. Once the architect and client are in agreement, the architect then provides the engineer with detailed architectural designs. It is under this framework that the engineer will design the building’s systems or structural spaces themselves.

Daniel Baigelman, AIA, principal architect with Full Circle Architects, based in Highland Park, says most clients don’t understand the difference between an architect and engineer and use them interchangeably. Indeed, the city of Chicago allows engineers to perform pretty much the same functions as an architect.


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