Project Architect Career Facts

The project architect is by definition an accomplished, experienced architect. As a project architect, however, nature of the work will be different than it is for an architect. There are two types of roles that have different career progressions. There is the in-house project and the regular project that an architect can take.

The work environment

All architectural jobs are called "projects." Project architect jobs have two basic streams the specific project work for an architectural contract or multiple projects for an employer. The project architect is effectively a permanent part of the employer's staff. This is common in government roles where civil projects are the normal work.

Project work

The job requirements vary significantly. The specifically project-based work, for example a housing development, is a contract role. The project architect is either a contracted professional or employed directly by the project contractor. This role is defined by the specific nature of the work, which may be:

  • Complete management of the project
  • Architectural components of projects
  • Design or design elements
  • Technical specialist roles

This is a quite different work environment in many ways to the normal architectural job. The standalone architectural projects work on a strict, task-specific, set of criteria. A project architect works within the project parameters in direct relation to contract and project specifications. Budgets, logistics, costing, and other issues are major parts of the project environment. The project architect may be directly responsible for these important facets of the work.

Basic Duties of the Project Architect

  • Preparing plans (may include basic site plans)
  • Design (common among contracted professionals)
  • Site inspection and survey plan analysis (necessary for basic site preparation)
  • Reports (costing, time frames, materials, structural and site issues)
  • CAD plan preparation (includes whole plans and/or components, depending on role)
  • May or may not include a management role

In-house project work

An in-house project architect fills an ongoing organizational role. This role includes a range of functions which are quite different to the project-specific job. As the in-house expert, the project architect is responsible for providing architectural services across a range of tasks within the organization, rather than one particular project. Their duties may include:

  • Organizational management roles, including staff supervision
  • Contract administration
  • Plan preparation, including construction drawing
  • Estimates
  • Site reviews and inspections
  • Building code compliance
  • Reports to management and stakeholders
  • Technical advisory roles

The career environment

The two types of roles can interact, and career mobility from one stream to another is common. The top of the profession is a consultancy role, working on major contracts or advisers to organizations. The wages of can vary depending on the role and contract terms.

Project work careers can be lucrative careers, involving major contracts and very high remuneration on contract terms. Career progression is based on a portfolio of jobs and proof of expertise. Some project architects are also specialists, filling niche positions on a contract basis. Many project architects become consultants, with advanced experience in either of the two streams.