Types of Architects in Maryland and Washington, DC

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Many people don’t realize that there are several different types of architects. You might immediately associate an architect with homes and other types of buildings, but there are many other areas of specialty in the field. 

An architect can choose to specialize in residential single-family homes, multi-unit residential and mixed-use, urban, commercial, industrial, interior architectural design, or even landscape design.

Residential Architects

The architects and other professionals we bring to the table have a history with us. This allows us to work quickly and efficiently on projects because of a shared understanding of the way we work together. 

A residential architect specializes in the design and construction of homes and other residential buildings. They are concerned not only with the overall look, layout, and design of the home, but also with its energy efficiency and performance, its structure, and stability. 

types of architects to considerOne of the biggest jobs for a residential architect is to address zoning and environmental issues. Their design will also take into account the plumbing and electrical aspects of the home, as well as the HVAC (heating and cooling). 

In a design-build process, the residential architect works closely with the homeowner, the interior designer, and the construction team right from the start to ensure everybody’s needs are adequately met. 

In Maryland and Washington, DC, residential architects are required to hold valid licenses, which must be renewed periodically. To keep their knowledge up to current standards, renewal requires the completion of continuing education. Doing so reduces liability and ensures the safety and integrity of all of their work.

Landscape Architects

types of architects to considerLandscape architecture is an entirely different discipline. It focuses on exterior spaces, such as parks, gardens, playgrounds, and green space, in both public and private areas. As it is a completely different area with its own concerns, the licensing and educational requirements can be quite different. 

Landscape architects, like other types of architects, must be licensed to work in Maryland and DC. This ensures the quality and reliability of their work.

Architectural Designer

An architectural designer may or may not have the same qualifications and degrees as a residential architect, and they are not required to hold an architect license. Like an architect, they design structures. However, they may not have the licenses or professional qualifications they need to submit or sign off on plans, so they may have to work with a supervising architect who will complete that work for them. 

types of architects to considerThe architectural designer is involved with all aspects of bringing a building design to fruition. They complete digital drawings based on architectural sketches and move the plans through the permitting process. They may visit the building site, liaise with and oversee contractors, and facilitate communication between stakeholders in a building project. 

Ultimately, an architectural designer is an extension of the architect, usually working for a firm or in conjunction with an architect. They will complete most of the architectural tasks and grunt work, except the signing-off on structural plans and drawings.

Public Architect Or Commercial Architect 

A commercial architect works on public buildings, like office buildings, train stations, libraries, government buildings, airports, those sorts of things. 

Historically, or at least in many cases, such structures are iconic in design and meant to leave a lasting impression. One only has to look around DC to get an idea of the impact a public architect can make. 

types of architects to considerBuildings like the White House, the Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Union Station, the National Archives Building, and the US Capitol are built in an architectural style reminiscent of ancient Greece and Rome. The Smithsonian Institute, on the other hand, is built in a Victorian Gothic-Revival style. 

Additionally, there are plenty of stunning examples of modern architecture around DC, like the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the National Museum of the American Indian. 

What these buildings all have in common is their timelessness, permanence, and their ability to instill a sense of pride and trust. From an architect’s standpoint, this is a huge responsibility, as any public building represents legacy and history.

Jack Of All Trades Or Master Of One?

Architects can choose to specialize in a single discipline, or they can dabble in several. It is not unusual in an architectural firm to have several architects on staff, each with a very different focus of their own. 

Architects may also choose to be interior designers, either exclusively or just for their own building projects. Frank Lloyd Wright was such an example, as he preferred to have oversight on every aspect of his designs. 

Are you thinking about a renovation or remodel of your Maryland or Washington, DC, home? Reach out today. We’d love to show you how we can help. 

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