Is Facade Engineering a niche?


I am a BA graduate with 1.5 year work experience.In the past, I posted a thread about problems with dealing with stress at work, so I would like to explore a role outside traditional architecture practice. 

My interest in architecture has been very technical and I recently found out about a MSc programme in facade engineering at a local university.

This is the only Facade Engineering programme in my country (UK). I find the curriculum very interesting and I am trying to understand what prrofessional path I could take upon completing this course.

What kind of projects usually employ facade engineers? Is facade engineering considered a niche specialty and does it pay better than architecture? Can someone with the architectural background that I have successfully take this course and develop into this role or is this a pure engineering subject?

I am aware that Arup have the largest facade engineering department in the world with input on some of the most high profile projects globally. Except for firms like Arup though, what other companies generally hire facade engineers?

Finally, do you think it would be suitable to first get my MArch and qualify as an architect before going into this field?

Thank you for you time.

Oct 18, 18 4:25 pm

Look for some jobs at firms you'd like to work at and see what level of education they require.  You may find that you can start with the education you have. You may find that you need to go back to school.

Scout out some of these companies' portfolios on their websites, linkedin accounts, or even through Archinect and just if you can find what kind of projects they take on and who their clients are.

Oct 18, 18 5:08 pm  · 

It looks like a decent niche that would work with a lot of different sorts of firms: larger architectural offices or engineering firms (structural/mech/elec) doing large commercial projects, manufacturer reps like curtain wall companies, commissioning agencies and peer review firms, etc.   Basically, it can feed into a lot of things or directions you want to go in the construction realm of things.

Just know you might not see a lot of design but be more of a resource to the design architects, testing agencies and design teams.  Basically, it wouldn't be a bad way to get your foot in the door of a design firm without a ton of schooling and I'd imagine the pay scale is approximate to an architect.

edit; Oh... just noticed the requirements; this is a post degree type thing, so you get your architect or engineering degree first, then this.  That level of specialty does mean a higher pay grade too.  I'd sort of look at it like the equivalent of 5 years of practical experience, so it'd start you off faster up the ladder than just a architectural intern.

Oct 18, 18 7:05 pm  · 

This is a huge huge segment of the industry, The work is in two parts initial design and mitigation repair and retrofit. In Chicago there is are firms that only do facade engineering and they are big and always busy, even in the recession they stayed busy.  Every existing building that has a facade defect or leak is a potential client. The big thing that turns folks off her in places like Chicago is the inspection work, it is difficult to repel down the buildings take notes and measurements in the wind rain or snow. If you are afraid of heights this is not a niche to go into as it is almost unavoidable to have to do some significant time outside up high hanging from ropes or scaffold.


I would use linked in find someone in the entry to mid level in the companies listed above and ask them for a 20 minute Skype conversation about their career and how they got there, be clear you are not asking for a job but advice.

Hope this helps

Peter N

Oct 19, 18 9:51 am  · 
Petros K

I agree with Peter above. 

The segment grows the last years, as more and more companies choose specialized facade engineering companies to contribute to their projects. 

Deliverable are as follows: 

Cladding contractors: Concept Design, Shop Drawings, Structural Calculations, Fabrication Drawings, As-Built Drawings. They use facade engineering office to cope with increased demand during project peaks, as they can avoid all the associated training costs in-house and deal with project life-cycles. 

Building Owners: Concept Design, Detailed Design, Tender Review, Documentation Review. They used specialized FE offices to bring in experts that will help with expertise in facade design, value engineering and facade life-cycle. 

Lead Architects: Detailed Design, Schematic Design. They bring in this services to offer a full package to building owners. 

Overall, it is a good option for your career. 

Company Skyline Facades,, offer such kind of services globally. 

Petros K 

Jul 22, 19 9:11 am  · 

Very interesting thread and responses.  I see ads for architecture schools holding continuing ed courses in this specialty.

Peter's description of the site documentation work is fascinating.  Not for everyone, indeed.  And drones wouldn't cut it, I'm sure.

(Camera? check.  Tape measure? check.  Insurance policy? check.  Adult diaper? double check.)

Jul 23, 19 1:39 pm  · 
atelier nobody

As building enclosure commissioning becomes more of a thing, I expect the demand for specialists to grow, for both design consultants and commissioning authorities. I have started looking into what certifications I can get to position myself for this type of work.

Jul 23, 19 2:00 pm  · 

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