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What is Architectural Design Engineering?

By Susan Barwick
Updated May 17, 2024
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Architectural design engineering, also called architectural engineering or building engineering, is the application of the principles of math and physics to building design. People in this profession apply engineering principles to the structural, electrical, and mechanical aspects of architectural design. Many aspects of architectural design engineering overlap with the field of architecture. Architecture, however, is concerned primarily with the design and appearance of the building, while architectural engineering focuses on functionality and safety.

When planning a design, an architect will usually consult with one or more engineers who might have specific training in architectural design engineering. These engineers might also be civil, mechanical, or electrical engineers; sometimes, engineers who work on buildings are considered architectural design engineers even though they lack formal training in that discipline. The architectural design engineer, however, has been trained to apply his or her engineering knowledge specifically to architectural problems.

An architectural engineer works with the architect to create specifications, which include both drawings and written directions for construction. He or she chooses materials for construction that meet the aesthetic and physical requirements of the architect's design. The engineer is also responsible for making sure that the structure complies with any national or regional building codes.

In addition to ensuring the soundness and safety of the building, architectural design engineers determine how to incorporate electrical and mechanical systems into the design. These systems include the many components that must be incorporated into any building, such as electricity, plumbing, and telecommunications. They also include safety features, such as fire suppression systems and earthquake protection measures, that may be required by law.

Architectural design engineers in the US, in addition to engineering services, sometimes provide the same services that an architect would provide. Both architects and architectural engineers, however, must be licensed to practice their professions. In the US, licensing requirements are the responsibility of each state. Architectural engineers who offer services that are usually performed by an architect must also be licensed as architects.

The overlap between architecture and architectural design engineering may be even greater in countries outside the US. In some languages, "architectural engineer" means "architect" in English. There are countries in which professionals who are trained in architectural design are also trained in engineering and may receive an engineering degree when completing a university program in architecture.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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