From Blueprint to Building: The Role of an Architectural Technologist


Have you ever admired a building and stopped to think about how it came to be? There are many, many steps along the way, and one of the critical roles is played by Architectural Technologists, who work behind the scenes as a vital link between architects and construction crews. In fact, Architectural Technologists provide much of the nuts-and-bolts infrastructure necessary to transform a blueprint into an actual building.

Here are a few of the responsibilities that are typically handled by Architectural Technologists:

*Analysis of technical documents and reports used in construction planning, including building codes and by-laws, and space and site requirements

*Making initial determinations as to which materials will be needed for a building project.

*Determining site specifications and cost estimates, as well as preparing contracts and bidding documents for the construction work.

*Drafting and sketching. The core responsibility of the architectural technologist is usually drafting, which is the creation of the technical drawings that will be used by the construction company. Often using Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) systems, Architectural Technologists can create and store electronic versions of the drawing and quickly make edits to existing designs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, drafters held over 250,000 jobs in 2006, with about half of all drafting jobs coming from architectural, engineering and construction service firms that design projects for other industries.

Technologists who have completed a technical degree program and possess CADD skills have enhanced desirability as job candidates. Many community colleges offer Associates degree programs in Architectural Technology, like Boston’s Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, featured in this week’s ATETV Episode. Here are a few more community college programs to check out:

St. Louis Community College. The college’s Digital Arts and Technology Alliance (DATA) was created to integrate technology resources with the demand for training in digital arts, including in the field of architectural design. The Center for Visual Technology, a DATA component features state-of-the-art computer graphics equipment and software and offers specialized workshops for established professionals to upgrade their skills.

Bluegrass Community and Technical College has been in existence more than 30 years, offering Kentucky’s only Architectural Technology program. The school’s student chapters of the American Institute of Architects and the Building Official and Code Administrators (BOCA) offer students opportunities to network with professionals.

And, the Associate’s degree program in Architectural Technology at Capital Community College in Hartford, Connecticut, not only provides students with job opportunities as draftsmen for architectural and engineering programs, but can also serve as a stepping-stone into a Construction Technology program or a degree program to become a licensed architect. You can view a slideshow of works by CCC students at their website.

A final note:, suggests that if you’re considering a major in Architectural Technology, you should be ready to a) Interpret blueprints; b) Submit your plans for critique; c) Become an expert in building materials; d) Prepare mock cost estimates; e) Log time in the computer lab; and f) Be precise and accurate — details are everything in this line of work.

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