Do people actually know what architects do?

bob the builder_keith chapman

A strange thing happened to me the other day; it was assumed that I am a “handyman”. I was asked (for the umpteenth time) to fix a table that was off-balance, and it really got me thinking – do people actually know what architects do?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I can put together IKEA box-kits with the best of them, but does the fact that I am an “architect” mean that I am, by definition, also a handyman? Sadly, I don’t think so. Sure, there are plenty of architects that are very handy; and yes, I can hang paintings on the wall with the sniper-like precision of a Stabila level. Perhaps people tend to forget (or never really knew) that the majority of my time is spent in front of a computer screen drafting construction details, fumbling through the IBC, answering emails, and taking design instruction from the “higher-ups”. Those are my internly duties, and I am happy to carry them out. So, although I like to think of myself as “crafty”, on a daily basis I am not the one out in the field swinging a hammer.

To shed some light on the esoteric world that is the architecture industry, outlined here are three principle duties I believe all architecture professionals adhere to:

1. Architects facilitate and foster the owner-contractor-consultant relationship, and we will wear only the finest tweed blazers while doing so. We are the directors of the design and construction process.

2. Architects draft any and all documents needed for the construction of a building, using our pure wit and charm to get these documents approved at the permitting office – all so you don’t have to. This may, at times, require long hours and gallons of cheap coffee.

3. Architects design with purpose, and execute with intelligence – all for love of the profession.

So, can I figure out a way to balance a table that seems to be leaning a little to the left? Sure, probably. Can I replace that kitchen baseboard that has seen one-too-many kicks in its lifetime? Yeah, I’ll take a stab at it. But remember: at the end of the day, your best bet might be to ask for my assistance in putting together that new flashy dining set you recently purchased from IKEA.

ikea man_ikea

Happy designing.

*Bob the Builder image courtesy of Keith Chapman’s Bob the Builder series

*Instruction characters courtesy of IKEA

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