Project Management For Architects: Is it a necessity or just another career option? Compared to earlier years when Architects only dealt in design and creative aspects of a building project, architectural companies have now realized the importance of being involved in the delivery, cost control, and construction quality of a project as well. These are important factors for the client and user satisfaction that ultimately contribute to getting all the hard work paid off, monetarily and through preciation. Project Management has now become an important add-on to the architectural repertoire.

Project Management for Architects- A necessity or just another career option -1
Image Sources: Ashley Nicole Deleon @The Balance

With so many specialists required to achieve the end-product, architects inherently are team leaders, able to direct the team in a positive, productive way, where each member is motivated to give their best, to achieve the common goal in the given amount of time and cost. In a specialized and connected substrate of our world today, it becomes an added advantage to hone this skill and gain the knowledge, equivalent of a project manager. As a PM, (Project Manager) the expertise lies in not just the architectural projects of different typologies, but projects of all kinds in different fields, as the generics of management, remain the same. Architectural project management, however, has a higher degree of complexity and uncertainty, primarily because of the number of players and factors involved. The efficacy of the process of construction and the resulting delivery of the project has a direct correlation with the management of the project. Hence, enter the Project Manager!

Project Management for Architects- A necessity or just another career option -2
Image Sources:

Real estate players, Artificial Intelligence, post-construction demands, new construction techniques- all exert pressures on the ‘creative’ architect to keep abreast. With technology doing its thing of exponential expansion and the architectural community reluctantly imbibing it, it is time to acknowledge the benefits and find its right place in the entire process. Project management seems to be an obvious choice as a lot is happening on the front – software, apps, machine learning, data crunching, websites, blogs, research, etc., for the knowledge of which, a new field of expertise is required. The creative side of it has also become an area of interest, but that will be covered separately. For this article, we stick with the project management component.

A typical job description for an architectural project manager :

Architectural project managers must be able to balance technical skills and creative aptitude in a fast-paced environment. From site preparation to building completion, to oversee elements of the design and construction processes. Developing, organizing, and reviewing building plans, as well as preparing construction contracts for general contractors. Taking part in interviewing and hiring contractors. Consulting with clients, preparing a cost estimate based on equipment, materials, and labor requirements. Must ensure that construction projects meet environmental, safety, structural, zoning, and aesthetic standards. Determine and schedule different stages of the building process according to client needs. During construction site visits, monitor progress and ascertain whether phases of the construction process are in compliance with building plans and project deadlines. Must be familiar with architectural standards, engineering practices, building ordinances, and blueprints in order to communicate effectively with clients and co-workers.

Information Source:

Now to address the question posed in the title, whether project management has become a necessity or is just a career option’; the answer is that it is a bit of both…..

Project Management For Architects has certainly become a necessary addition for an architectural practice to be able to expand and juggle the demanding needs, as listed in the job description above. Balancing the creative element of a good design, the human element of keeping the client and the employees’ content, and at the same time, the financial element of making a profit to keep the practice running and successful-are all essential. It is also a very viable career for an architect. Given the pivotal role they are required to play in accomplishing the construction of a building, it would not be an exaggeration to say that a project manager is a significant part of a project well done!

“We must accept that a good project manager is a support for architects to produce better buildings which is also what architects want to do.”

A necessity or just another career option -3
Image Sources:

To explain things further, the role of a PROJECT MANAGER is to manage the technical aspects of a building, while keeping the creative integrity of the design intent, intact. Architectural education has taken cognition of this market requirement and has introduced specialized training to fill in the gap. Most architectural institutions offer this course as a specialization for Masters, post the 5 years it takes to become an architect. In fact, I would dare to go to the extent to propose a change in the 5 years of education of the architect.-Following the European norms of 3 years of basic training and then 2 years of specialization into any creative or management side, depending on the proclivity and inclination of the student. After all, Design must acknowledge that it is a business and not be aloof of the tools put in place by Management as a discipline. In case you are interested in Project Management, I would recommend keeping a lookout for AI (Artificial Intelligence), ML (Machine Learning), and DDD (Data-Driven Design) as they are really upcoming in the industry.

Times are “a-changing” and the project management for architects must evolve with it.

A necessity or just another career option -4
Image Sources:

An architect by training,who has practised for over 20 years. Her chosen path nowis of a researcher, writer and creativity coach. Shebelieves that it is nowthe era of compassion - for humans to do away with attitudes of segregation and to heal all that we have ravaged!