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# What knowledge from Physics and Math does an architect need?

jakubfrišo

I like both subjects but I need to focus more on those areas that will be most useful to me I think..

Do you have any suggestions please?

tintt

Statics, mechanics, thermodynamics, pressure, acoustics, electricity, all kinds of forces, trig, geometry, space and time, algebra, some calculus.

Olaf Design Ninja_

mainly math.  physics is good though for basic materials behavior.

curtkram

physics is easy in architecture.  we don't want buildings to move, so the answer is always zero.  all the engineers need to do is figure out how to get to 0.

thermodynamics is a good one to learn.  keeping the outside out and inside in is an important part of what architects do, and learning about vapor movement and dew points and things like that is a big part of it.

i think trig comes up often enough, and basic geometry.

i don't even know what calculus is.  if i've ever used it in the real world, it was purely by mistake.

tintt

basic idea of calculus is easy, you know it, you just don't know you know it. let me be the first to congratulate you.

natematt

Curtkram,

Physics is calculus.

OP, if you passed the 10th grade you're probably good. The profession doesn't really require you to be particularly knowledgeable in either of these subjects. I do think that the mindset of people who are good at these things is valuable though.

BulgarBlogger

Correction- ideally, the answer is 0. But if that were the case, we wouldn't need expansion joints or be concerned with drift. So its not exactly 0...

we don't want buildings to move, so the answer is always zero. all the engineers need to do is figure out how to get to 0.

the answer is 0. But if that were the case, we wouldn't need expansion joints or be concerned with drift. So its not exactly 0...

0 is the value of the net force on the building, which means the building is in a state of static equilibrium, however the equilibrium itself could slightly change in time, hence the expansion joints required to absorb the difference between the building's various states of equilibrium.

chigurh

Most of these answers sound like a bunch of architects trying to sound smarter than they are...thermodynamics?  calculus?  dynamics?  give me a break.

All you need to know is the basics of a few of the fields mentioned above.  basics.  steel expands when it gets hot, keep warm/cool air in a building, leave the structural forces to the engineers.  Architects are generalists not specialists.  10 grade will get you there.

mightyaa

The profession doesn't really require you to be particularly knowledgeable in either of these subjects

At least to get that degree so you have a profession; Totally depends on the college.  Most mid-west colleges push more functional programs with a lot of structural, mechanical, and electrical engineering courses.  In those, you better know advanced math.  In HS, that's probably pushing up through Calculus.  Don't go as deep into physic as physics II (where you start in on quantum and molecules sort of stuff).  Look at other kinds of class's like history, geology, sociology, etc. to give you a broader understanding of humanity.  You'll also want to be good at the art stuff to develop that aesthetic eye and a understanding of why 'this' feels better than "that".

In the real world; physics helps your instinct in the design by understanding forces and how they work running through buildings.  If you suck at it, you can't really push your design.

tintt

(Those are not big fancy words.)

tintt

Lasers.

Non Sequitur

TRex on jet-ski.

natematt

Mightyaa,

Yes, you have to learn then, no you don't have to know them. There is no reason why someone would have to have taken a physics or calculus class in high school, because they'll just have to retake them (physics anyway, probably not calc unless they do some weird path) in arch school.

If you are in a good spot in high school, yeah, take physics and calculus, it will help, but ultimately it shouldn't be a big deal if you don't, those are essentially gen-eds for architecture. Your suggestion of art classes is much better in my mind.

Rbsm

Honestly, none

bowling_ball

The original question isn't very clear, but assuming it's in relation to high school classes, just take the basics. I never took any physics or calculus at all and I'm doing just fine - university architecture courses in sciences are very basic overviews. As said above, we're generalists.

^ Ditto that. I'm the most math-phobic person in the universe -- I barely passed high school algebra -- but I somehow passed the Structural Systems division of the ARE on my first attempt. Knowing the concepts is far more important than your ability to crunch numbers.

Non Sequitur
I remember that chemistry was just recently removed from the pre-req list when I was applying to undergrad. I also barely passed the typical math courses and I remember taking one over as per some alternative school program just to make the min 70% grade cut off. I did have high grades in physics so I think o just did not care about the math.

Come first year arch and we're running 6hr weekly courses calculating bending forces and truss design and whatnot, Aces all around for me.

Morale is, be competent enough with the basics and you'll be fine. Eventually you'll pay some Beige pants wearing engineer to do the math for you.
tintt

What are ya, a bunch of interior designers?

chigurh

tintt is working away on quantum physics in the Swiss patent office.

tintt

I took a quantum physics class for non-physicists just for fun. There was no math in it. My dad was a math and science teacher...

Olaf Design Ninja_

i took a philosophy of math course once and learned that - to many mathematicians the math was a game (so I rebelled and became a fan of the Intuitionists via L.E.J. Brouwer).... .so yeah math is about as subjective as interior design.

jla-x

I hate math, but got an A in all structures classes...Its not that bad...

Non Sequitur

None one talks about alchemy anymore.

tintt

Olaf Design Ninja_

by that cavhalo guy? i tried, meh

tintt

Coehlo? I skimmed it, it was ok. A lot of people really like that book, so if you want to relate to people, there you go. Alchemy lives.

Eventually you'll pay some Beige pants wearing engineer to do the math for you.

That's why engineers make more money; architects pay them to do the math.

How they do the math, btw? Sorcery. Sorcery, I tells you.

Olaf Design Ninja_

yeah a lot of people love that book.  I do my own math, saves time and money and then I can critique engineers correctly when I feel like it's bullshit.

tintt

Just don't let the realtors do the math...

Olaf Design Ninja_

Rent Square Footage = reality times whatever the broker needs to make on the lease deal worked backwards.

tintt

They don't push it past 7th grade math.

dandouglas

"What knowledge from Physics and Math does an architect need?"

When you start practicing architecture, as a general practitioner, the concepts you learned in trig class and level 1 physics will be useful as a basis of knowledge, but unless you specialize in something technical, you'll almost never reach for the calculator to work out the numbers.  When your structural engineer asks if you want to design for deflection of L / 360, you're going to be embarrassed if you don't know what that means, but as long as you do understand the concept, you're all set, because the numbers have already been crunched for you.  Most of the math and science an architect references has been compiled into tables and codes.  If you want to know how much insulation you need in a wall assembly, you're not going to spend time calculating U x A x delta T ; you're going to look up a table in the International Energy Conservation Code book and see that you need a certain R-value in that wall to satisfy code, and you'll note that R-value on the drawing.

Calculus? Never heard of it.

jla-x

+++tintt.  Realtors only need to know one formula (your money x .06 = their money)

chigurh

realtors can multiply a number with decimal points?

curtkram

rsf comes from boma.  typically, the square footage comes first, and it's the architect's job to figure out how to get the tape measure's number to match the leasing office's number.  maybe that's what calculus is really for?

Olaf Design Ninja_

calculus is "guessing" technically

Learn calculus by watching YouTube videos.

http://youtu.be/uqwC41RDPyg
tintt

Some Study that I Used to Know

Physics was when I learned to love excel ... http://youtu.be/GhK6D05EamE

tintt

I wish there was a parody to teach Quickbooks.

Grade 10 is enough. The mysteries of infinity aren't meant to be comprehended by finite minds.

LOL tintt

My degree program required a physics course and lab, and a 'light' calculus class. 'Light' because it was a class intended for degrees that didn't require any higher math, i.e. Not Calc 1, which would expect you to go on to Calc 2.

While you may not need to use math or physics beyond what you learn in 10th grade, you might be required to take a course and pass it. Learning the material and retaining it are completely up to you.
Xenakis

that all may be true - but if you learn Calculus and or Analytic Geom at the very least, it will re-wire your thinking to make you a better designer, more critical and smart - that and you will be able to write code in Dynamo and or Grasshopper better - basically Calculus makes you smarter. -also take programming classes in C# and Python - don't take the easy way out - do what is hard and necessary not what is fun and easy - take the easy way out and you will not go far -

chigurh

Xenakis, I'm sure your definition of better designer is that of efficiency and technical knowledge.  My definition of "better designer" is one that is interested in poetics and artful design - in that case the linear, technical, left brained thinking you are championing would actually hinder that type of work.  Ideally the designers have both skill sets, but oftentimes that is not the case...

Xenakis

chigurh

Hopefully you are right - I was born into the architech side of the design equation - and work for those you are into poetics and artful design

"So unfortunately, if you’re artistically-challenged or can’t solve a math problem for your life, neither hemisphere of your brain is to blame."

Left-Brained vs. Right-Brained? Myth Debunked

... and if that wasn't enough ... I'd argue that if you truly struggle to understand higher math and science because you are "right brained," you aren't right-brained (read 'creative') enough in your attempts at learning the concepts.

Xenakis

in that case - run for office, hire architects and don't pay them

Thayer-D

Math, a lot.  Physics, not a thing.

gual

if you learn Calculus and or Analytic Geom at the very least, it will re-wire your thinking to make you a better designer, more critical and smart - that and you will be able to write code in Dynamo and or Grasshopper better - basically Calculus makes you smarter. -also take programming classes in C# and Python - don't take the easy way out - do what is hard and necessary not what is fun and easy - take the easy way out and you will not go far -

Coming from a math/cs background I agree with a lot of this post but I would start with straight-up Java or C which will teach you the fundamentals better.

In general you don't need much math/physics beyond like, grade 10 level in order to do architecture but if you have the interest you can specialize in some very interesting areas if you have programming and analytic ability. I studied pure math and computer science and now I wish I did a bit of physics as well (I've worked on architecture projects in which we needed to model the building as a bunch of springs, basically -- that took a little while to get my head around because I knew a lot of abstract math but not a lot of basic physics).

There is also the argument that knowing a bunch of math makes you a strong thinker, which I agree with but it's only ever math people who say this, so we might be biased.

tintt

I learned some stuff!

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