What is an Architectural Designer?


What exactly can an Architectural Designer do? What are the limitations? Other than the amount of schooling and a license, how does an Architectural Designer differ from an Architect?

May 29, 14 3:40 pm
Non Sequitur

I mostly see them spend their time complaining that they should be called "architects" regardless of license status, internship progress or successful exam completion. With that aside, the term is interchangeable with designer, technologist, interior designer, decorator, draftsman. As for your limitations, it all depends on your location and whatever local building review laws are on the books.

May 29, 14 4:06 pm

An architectural designer is an architect who is more focused on designing buildings rather than other things architects do.

That doesn't mean a whole lot other than the person filling that role is a registered architect ("architect" and "architectural" are regulated professional terms that can't be used in a job title unless you've got a license) and tends to be more active in design-related work.

"Designer" (sans the "Architectural") is typically used as a job title for someone who doesn't have a license but is at an experience level higher than "intern". Sometimes it can be an actual design-related position, but often is not. Hence the confusion.

Similarly, Project Architect and Project Manager are roughly equivalent as a practical matter, but the former is a licensed professional (or should be, legally) and tends to focus more on the architecting part (in a technical sense) than the managerial part, while the latter doesn't need a license and tends to be more of a pure manager. But that's a matter of emphasis and degree rather than a clear distinction.

May 29, 14 4:14 pm

An architectural designer is someone who designs architecture, architectural elements, or art that is spatial and or techtonic in nature.  Some artists have an architectural designer component to their work even though the work may be considered art due to its lack of utilitarian value.  Maya Lin for instance is often refered to as an architectural designer since she often works in areas that are usually where art and architecture cross over such as memorials, monuments, landscapes, etc...  The term "architect" is protected as well as "architectural" but this is mostly due to a lack of perspective from the narrow minded boards that make these rules, and the protectionist tendencies of the profession overall.  There are also people who specialize in designing components of buildings that are of an architectural nature such as doors, building systems, etc that are architectural designers by common sense definition.  Foreign architects working in the US are also Architectural designers since they often design buildings in the US but work with a local AOR.  They get away with what ever they want because the "equal protection under the law" thing is a load of bullshit and because they make the city look shiny so rich people can move in and pay more taxes.  Architectural design can also refer to unlicensed people working for a firm that design architecture while their boss is out playing golf.  They design architecture so yeah they are architectural designers.  Any attempt to make them call them selves anything else would be a violation of their free speech since they are simply describing what they do.  It would get shit on in court if actually challenged, but it never gets that far because the state is too busy with important matters.  To be safe just call your self a designer or an artist.  If someone asks you what you design just say that you are not allowed to say so that everyone can know how stupid our profession is.

May 29, 14 5:09 pm

No one challenges Peter Zumthor on using the term when in LA because they are a bunch of pussies.  They only bust the little guys who are trying to describe what they do to make a buck and feed their families.  The correct term for the type of person that would actually report such a silly thing to the state is referred to as an "architectural asshole."

May 29, 14 5:15 pm

You are the architect's bit**

May 29, 14 5:45 pm
jla-x for myself.  best move ever. 

May 29, 14 5:51 pm

Although I disagree with the term architect being protected, I can respect the argument from those who think that it should...However, anyone who thinks that the term "architectural" should be protected is a retard.

May 29, 14 6:07 pm


I also want to work for myself. My dad owns a construction business, and my goal is to be able to work from home where he can hire me to design or draw additions, new homes, or whatever he needs. I also want to design for other people eventually, but my dad is a good starting point. I thought I knew what an Architectural Designer was, but now I'm unsure. What I have been told is that they cannot design anything commercial and nothing over three floors. I am currently taking a drafting and design program, and there are scenarios that involve an Architectural Designer designing commercial buildings, so now I just don't know what to believe. It is so hard to get an explanation of what this job really is, it's like everyone says something different. I just want to know what I can and cannot do.

May 29, 14 10:10 pm

Bell44, I'm most states you can design sf residential and some light commercial.  You can design anything if you work for an arch firm just not on your own.  In some cases you may need an engineers stamp for residential. 

May 30, 14 12:54 am

That said, even if you are allowed to do something doesn't mean that you should unless you are confident in your ability.  I have turned down multiple projects that I was allowed to do and know how to do but deep down inside I knew that someone with more experience could do it faster and more efficiently.  I knew that by accepting the job I would be doing a disservice to the client.  I consider myself a great designer/artist, but there are certain technical things that I am still learning.  Just be responsible and you will do fine.  I would also recommend doing a march or Barch because you will get much better at design.  If you are serious about design then its worth it even if you don't want to get license.  

May 30, 14 1:35 am

"architectural designer" is a term that unlicensed individuals use to make it sound like they are licensed architects.  For some reason, people think this term is some kind of workaround from state board regulations of representing or holding out ones self as an architect.  Any use of the term architect, architectural, arch, ARC, or any derivation is usually grounds for disciplinary action.  

May 30, 14 1:00 pm

Chigurh, lol.  No it is not.  It's a term that means exactly what it sounds like.  

What do you call foreign architects that come from countries without title or practice regulations?   

Well it depends in how famous they are Duurrpp. 

May 30, 14 1:24 pm

jla-x, go print a business card or put that term on some drawings and see if your state board takes notice.  99% of all disciplinary action is some idiot representing themselves as an architect or in this case an "architectural designer" when, in fact, they are not licensed.

I am of the opinion that foreign architects should be held to the same licencing standards as anybody else practicing in this country regardless of how famous they are.  

May 30, 14 1:50 pm

As an example of why chigurh is right about this and jla-x is wrong, consider that the Washington State Registration Board for Architects recently fined and disciplined a well-known Seattle designer for representing himself and his services using the words "architecture" and "architectural."

May 30, 14 2:12 pm

I'm not dumb enough to do that.  I would however us the term "Master of Arvhitecture".  It's what my diploma says and the governor signed it.  I actually by law have every right to use that title because its what my degree says and it's my property.  In reality I won't do that because its corny, but it would be funny to crush them in court.  Too busy for that though being a ------------designer.  

May 30, 14 2:18 pm

jla-x, quit bitching and take your fucking exams, then you can use whatever term you want.

I'm sure your state board regulations far override the wording on your fucking diploma. School is one thing, professional practice is another.  I would love to see you go before your state board and "crush them" because you have a diploma that says you are a master of architecture.  ha.

The term  you are looking for is "intern"

quit whining.

May 30, 14 2:31 pm

Ha.  I'm not an intern actually.  I have no desire to use the term or the title because what I do is related but different and what I aspire to do requires no title.  I don't really have much skin in the game just little patience for people who stifle economic liberty through protectionism.  As for the degree, yes it's my property. Technically I have every right to represent myself as an architecture graduate.  Any attempt to stop me would be a clear violation of my property rights.  The degree was earned and paid for and is therefore mine.   As I said I would never do this because its corny, but if I did the courts would rule on my side.   

May 30, 14 2:58 pm

The president of the world signed his signature on a napkin and named me "master of the world" =O

Call yourself whatever you want man. but I would love to see construction documents drawn by you.

goodluck future architect... I mean architectural designer

May 30, 14 3:12 pm

Oh boy, I wish I could just design beautiful little homes and not have to worry about being fined for calling myself an architectural designer.

May 30, 14 3:53 pm

Bell, Don't use the term and avoid any problems by just using residential designer.   Not worth the hassle.    

May 30, 14 4:11 pm

Ok good advice haha.

May 30, 14 4:27 pm

Most Architects are shitheads. Most Architectural designers are cooler people who actually define the built environment, and pass it on to the "architects" to make it happen.

Jla, lets sue!

May 30, 14 10:15 pm
The "protectionism" or whatever you call it exists to protect the profession of architecture from hacks, frauds, failures, etc. from building work that is a danger to the general public. Why would there be an allowance for anyone with the word "architect(-ure or -ural)" on a degree to freely use the term all willy nilly that could ultimately hurt the profession by designing a dangerous and irresponsible space? Even fast food restaurants require employees to have a food handlers permit. It's irresponsible to think otherwise and it's a danger to the general public.

That general public includes your clients whom expect that what we design is not only "art" (which it's not) but most importantly a safe environment to live, work, play, eat, sleep, etc. Your "economic liberty" is dependent on your clients dependence on you to design responsibly, efficiently, and with a full understanding of the specific building/spatial/construction type.
May 31, 14 1:36 am

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