Architect vs Structural Engineer: Difference and Comparison

Every building, towering skyscraper, structure, bridge, and construction site that we come across is built from a vision of an engineer. They not only build structures but create an environment.

There are two main types of professionals involved in the creation of buildings – Architects and Structural engineers.

Key Takeaways

  1. Architects primarily focus on designing the aesthetic and functional aspects, while structural engineers ensure that the structure is safe, stable and durable.
  2. Structural engineers are responsible for analyzing the loads and stress a building may experience and designing the structural elements to withstand them. At the same time, architects focus on creating the overall vision and layout.
  3. While architects are not required to have an engineering degree, structural engineers must hold a civil or structural engineering degree to practice professionally.

Architect vs Structural Engineer

The difference between an architect and a structural engineer is that an architect advises and provides strategies for structural designs and plans the construction of the building, while a structural engineer focuses on engineering calculations that will produce a safe structure.

Architect vs Structural Engineer
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Architect Engineer studies concepts like steel structures, concrete studies, structural analysis, building constructions, engineering mechanics, water resource engineering, geotechnical engineering, and other related subjects.

On the other hand, structural engineering studies core concepts like structural analysis, decision and risk analysis, structural dynamics, probabilistic load and design, fundamentals of physics, electrical systems, architecture illumination, and other related subjects.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonArchitect EngineerStructural Engineer
Minimum Education requirementsBachelor’s degree in architectureBachelor’s degree in civil engineering
License A separate license is given to every professional architect A separate license is not given, and only a few states allow that
Focus Architects focus on the appearance of the building Structural engineers focus on the strength and durability of the building
Skills required Should have a Vision for contemporary and modern designs and a mind to utilize space functionallyShould have problem-solving skills, exceptional leadership skills, and communication skills
Job Duty Discussing and communicating the idea of the project with the client work with construction managers to ensure proper execution, check building codes and monitor the aesthetics of the site or structure is done by an architect-engineer.Inspection of building projects, creating models of structures to determine safety, weight load, size, and other necessary approximation. Any problem in the design is solved and checked through codes by a structural engineer.

Who is an Architect?

An architect is an individual whose job is to plan, design, and oversee the construction of buildings. The architect is derived from the Latin word architecture, which means chief builder.

The major sectors which an architect controls are civil engineering, architecture, project management, construction, interior design, virtual arts, urban planning, and several other domains.

An architect can directly affect public safety. Hence every architect undergoes specialized training with an advanced level of education and practice to earn the license.

Historically the architectural designs of ancient and medieval history were carved by craftsmen, artisans, masons, and carpenters, which led and paved the way for future architects.

Architects have a unique vision that is communicated and explained to clients or construction contractors.

The title of most gifted and inventive architect in history is given to Filippo Brunelleschi. There are various prizes awarded to renowned architects for their achievements.

Pritzker Prize is considered the most lucrative award that any architect can ever receive. Architects consider every building and structure’s functionality, economic, and safety aspects.

A common myth about architects is that they build buildings. They do not build buildings but make designs and outline instructions to others about building the building.

Architects are licensed professionals who develop the art and science of building design. Architects bring and develop contemporary concepts and structures to buildings.

Right from the initial discussion about the project to designing, managing, engineering, and supervising the site, an architect does it all.

architect engineer

Who is a Structural Engineer?

A structural engineer is an individual who analyses, plans, designs, and researches structural components and systems to achieve the safety and comfort of the users.

A structural engineer works not only on a project’s safety, economic and technical concerns but also on aesthetic and social parameters. Structural engineering is a specialization within the domain of civil engineering.

Structural engineers do not have a special separate license and mostly practice as civil engineers but there are some states and countries which do offer a separate license for structural engineers.

Places that design high-risk structures like hospitals, schools, or skyscrapers offer separate licenses to specialized structural engineers.

The most common projects a structural engineer builds are towers, buildings, stadia, bridges, space satellites, ships, oil rigs, aircraft, and many other structures.

The industries like construction, aerospace, shipbuilding, and automobile work in close cooperation with structural engineers.

The safety of every building or structure and the resistance power against structural loads like gravity, rain, wind, earthquake, snow, pressure, the temperature is evaluated by a structural engineer.

Structural engineers complete a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and can opt for a master’s degree or specialization.

The core subjects taught to a structural engineer are solid mechanics, material science, structural analysis, numerical analysis, and other related concepts.

There are a few universities that do provide separate structural engineering undergraduate degrees, but this is not a common phenomenon yet.

structural engineer

Main Differences Between Architect And Structural Engineers

  1. Architects focus on how the building would look from inside and outside, while structural engineers focus on the structure’s safety, skeletal, and stability aspects.
  2. Architects are responsible for material specifications, building designs, coordination with the client, and functionality of the building, while structural engineers are responsible for mechanical and electrical systems of the building, water supply, fire suppression, sewerage system, and other technical aspects.
  3. Architects are concerned about the colour, aesthetics, space, and materials used in the building, while structural engineers are concerned with the ability of the building to withstand resistance from structural loads and forces.
  4. Architects work under architectural design firms, while structural engineers work under project scheduling and management, structural calculations, and handling of manpower and equipment and other related fields.
  5. Architects cover specialization in the fields of construction, while structural engineers cover specialization in fields of engineering.
Difference Between Architect and Structural Engineer
References
  1. https://lirias.kuleuven.be/1684201?limo=0
  2. https://search.informit.org/doi/abs/10.3316/informit.953777290334543

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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