The term design professional is often used to refer to the architect and engineer as they perform their planning, design and construction liaison tasks on a construction project. It is common to use the words architect-engineer, architectural-engineering firm or A/E, for the party engaged carrying out these tasks. The role played by each of these two professionals varies significantly depending upon the type of project. If it is a building or other facility project, the architect is likely to lead the planning and design team; indeed, the owner wishing to construct a new church, residence, school, hotel or apartment building will often first contact an architect about launching the project. On the other hand, if the project involves building a highway, bridge, dam, pipeline or industrial plant, the architect will have a very small role, if any. Professional licensing regulations may stipulate the particular profession responsible for carrying the lead role in certain types of projects.

On a facilities project, the architect takes the lead responsibility for developing the owners programme, first into a generic or conceptual design, then into more detailed floor plans and finally into a complete set of drawings and other documents sufficient to have the project assembled in the field. The architect is concerned with building space use, appearance, relationships among users and spaces and finishes, as well as the overall coordination of all parties to the planning and design process. In addition, the architect will probably be in charge of the process to select the contractor and may be involved, during construction, in quality control inspections and other activities on behalf of the owner. When the engineer is in charge of a highway, industrial, heavy or utility project, the architects role, if any, will generally be confined to the visual appearance and finish details of any buildings and other structures. The Royal Incorporation of Architects of Scotland provides a helpful clients advice document at (Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, 2001).

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