Architects and Engineers Keys to a Successful Relationship

Change is a part of life; and that’s especially true if you’re talking about living in a New York condo or co-op, where no building ever stays the same for too long. Renovations are done, capital improvements are required and even upgrades for building common areas are eventually taken care of.

Regardless of if it’s a unit owner looking to do some remodeling or a building-wide capital improvement program that will affect all residents, odds are that an architect and/or engineer will be part of the process. While architects and engineers perform many parallel functions, the two disciplines are not the same and often they are forced to work together. 

Understanding Distinctions 

“Many of our clients use the terms architect and engineer interchangeably, but in my opinion, architects have a broader training across all the spectrums of a building’s design, where an engineer is schooled in a specific discipline, like a structural engineer, mechanical or industrial,” says William Pyznar, principal with the Falcon Group, an engineering, architectural and consulting firm in New Jersey. “I think the architects are trained more on life-safety issues and general background.”

According to the New School of Architecture and Design, architects are responsible for designing the aesthetics and spatial details of a building’s project, and seeing to it that the overall end-use objectives of the client are met. Once the architect and client are in agreement, the architect then provides the engineer with detailed architectural designs. It is under this framework that the engineer will design the building’s systems themselves.

Regardless of discipline, both types of professionals will interact mostly with the board and management, sometimes with just the individual resident, sometimes with a board-appointed design committee, and sometimes with all of the above. However, often they must work together to successfully execute the projects they’re hired for.  

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