In the United States, an architecture firm consists of one or more licensed professionals and practices the art of architecture as a business; an architect is employed by the government as part of their civil services. In both cases, the architect has to be a practicing member of the American Society of Architects (ASA) and the architectural profession are regulated by state law. Although not required by law, many states insist on a license for practicing architects. In practice, however, they do not have to meet these stringent requirements. In most states, an architecture firm or professional commercial architecture firm does not have to be licensed, but they do need to obtain a state license if they wish to perform work outside the state where they are licensed to practice. The rules for practicing architects varies from state to state, but typically, in order to practice architecture in a state, an architect who wishes to do so must register with the appropriate office.
As the number of construction projects increased in the twentieth century, the demand for talented architects increased. As this was true, competition for highly qualified professionals increased, leading to increased prices for licensed professionals. This was the beginning of the Great Depression. This negative trend, coupled with the perceived difficulties of obtaining licensing in some states, led firms that specialized in only residential designs to downsize and focus their attention on the more lucrative commercial realm. Many of these firms are now starting their own architecture firm that caters to a more mixed range of clients.
A recent trend is the formation of architecture firms that provide a wide range of residential and commercial architectural services. These architectural firms are usually smaller, usually based in cities, towns, or suburbs, and employ a number of architects. Architectural services offered by such firms tend to be more personalized and more geared toward meeting the needs of a specific client than those offered by large, mass-produced firms. Most small firms operate under a limited agreement, with contracts specifying the scope of work and specific deadlines for each project.
Architectural firms may specialize in one type of project, such as residential or office architecture. In other cases, they may offer a broad range of specialized services. The most common specialties of these firms include interior design, landscape architecture, and industrial architecture. Some firms specialize in designing residential buildings; others may specialize in designing office buildings and other commercial structures. Still others may specialize in designing the environmental characteristics of a property, determining such factors as site drainage, water management, snow accumulation, and vegetation growth. Architects may also work with other professionals, like land planners and designers, to determine the best design for a property.
A typical component of an architecture firm will be its team of architects. Together they will put together a plan to build, manage, and maintain a property. These team members will develop a set of standards to abide by when constructing a home or building. For example, all architects must know the local building codes, and all must have appropriate permits in order to build on-site. The team of architects will be responsible for making sure that the necessary permits are obtained, and all required construction steps are carried out according to local guidelines. Additionally, these architects will have to ensure that the building is safe and meets all legal requirements.
Another important part of an architecture firm’s work will be the supervision it gives to the licensed engineers who designed the project. Licensed architects oversee the creation of the plans and the fabrication of materials. As an architect, your responsibility will be to produce quality plans so that construction can take place as planned. Your role is one of the most important in the entire construction process, as the plans must be completely accurate. Finally, you will oversee the installation of every component, ensuring that everything goes according to the original blueprints.