Architect ..... Engineer.... The Difference Is?

Now I know I'm not an Architect yet but I consider myself as someone who thinks like one when I design. Partly because I'm good at what I do (Designing) & partly because I'm studying Architecture at the moment. Oh and there's also that "Registered Building Designer" bit as well, not to mention almost 20 years working as a designer for various firms & builders along the way. I've even worked as a steel detailed for an engineering firm..... In fact that was the first real industry based job I held and it taught me a lot about how engineers think. There is however another angle to engineering that has perhaps shown me more through my almost 20 years as a designer and that is having a brother as an engineer.

Now having a brother as an Engineer is quite an intriguing way to spend family catchups. It often ends in what I would term "heated discussions" as to who knows what about what & why a certain concept is in his mind idiotic or for lack of a better term "stupid". The rest of the family hate it when we "talk shop" but we just can't seem to help ourselves. We both are passionate about our respective industries and we both refuse to back down when discussing possibilities of how something could or should in his opinion be designed.... I mean "engineered". Anyway it usually ends up in us both agreeing to disagree and little resolution ever comes of these situations. That being said they are fun for us and it's banter I really do enjoy... But I digress.

This little blog is about my perception of the difference between an Engineer & an Architect... Which some might find an odd thought... Especially Engineers, but hey Designers and Architects never really care what Engineers think anyway... We just tell them to make our magic work.... You know, Irish sky hooks and all that jazz. Unrealistic cantilevers and floating walls supported off nothing but glazed connections... They really do despise Designers/Architects don't they. At the moment I'm flicking through a book written by Matthew Frederick in which he states (I'm assuming he's being funny) that "Engineers tend to be concerned with physical things in and of themselves. Architects are more directly concerned with the human interface with physical things".

Whilst I agree with the portion of the statement regarding Architects I can't help but think that Engineers do a little more than he suggests. For me an Engineer is perhaps the most integral part of the post design phase over and above a builder, for me a good engineer can save a client more money than cost cutting with material selection and product choice, a good engineer can asses a situation with a design and offer up a solution that enable us as Designers/Architects to retain the design outcome we were achieving without seriously compromising the design or killing budgets.

So for me, whilst not always agreeing with what my brother the Engineer suggests, I do hold the utmost regard for his engineering abilities. That said I do enjoy pushing the limits of engineering with what I design as I am sure all good Designers/Architects do because without that we would fail to move forward in design. So to all those Engineers out there let it be known that there are Designers/Architects that respect your role and relish the opportunity to work with you in collaborative ways on projects, even if we are steadfast in our ways with the designs we shove your way for Engineering.