Architecture or Construction Management: That is the Question
2 Points of the “Triangle”
by Maria Pryschlak
Published November 18, 2010
“The nature of buildings, spaces, landscapes and construction methods play a critical role in how people feel, behave, interact and communicate,” says Gregory Kessler, the director of the School of Architecture and Construction Management at Washington State University. While some people may never have ever considered this point, those of you who have, may be the perfect candidate for a graduate program in architecture or construction management.
Whether you’re overseeing the construction of a skyscraper or drawing the designs for it, you have the power to make a considerable difference in the quality of our lives. But what are the differences between architecture and construction management? Why should you choose one program and career path over the other?
According to the Pratt Institute, a graduate program in architecture focuses on educating “the future leaders of the design, planning and management disciplines in the professional fields of architecture.” In short, this degree focuses on the designing of buildings and structures, as well as ensuring their safety and functionality.
As you consider a master of Architecture graduate program, also referred to as an M. Arch, decide which program aligns with your background.
1. If you hold a bachelor’s of Architecture, or a degree in a related field, then you are eligible for the 2 year master of Architecture degree program.
2. If you hold a bachelor’s degree in a field outside of architecture, you are eligible for a 3 to 4 year master of Architecture degree program.
What to Expect
When researching potential universities, it is important to make sure the institution is accredited by the National Architectural Accreditation Board (NAAB). Otherwise, you won’t be able to sit for the Architect Registration Exam (ARE’s), which is required to become a licensed architect.
Once licensed, and upon gaining experience, you will be well on your way to managing projects, moving into a managerial position at a large firm or perhaps opening your own business. As George Thrush, Director of the School of Architecture at Northeastern University sums it up, “Architectural education has always been a hybrid and has always involved liberal arts education and professional training.”
Glenn Wiggins, Dean of the College of Architecture and Design at Wentworth Institute of Technology
, describes graduate study in Architecture as "an exhilarating and challenging enterprise, an opportunity for students to develop a focused position within a broad and rapidly evolving field. Graduates of the architecture program have established diverse and notable careers worldwide. From London to Tokyo, New York City to Dallas, Wentworth alumni are providing creative and innovative leadership in the architecture field."
Feeling a little overwhelmed at the idea of possibly spending another four years in school? Consider exploring Construction Management.
A graduate program in construction management builds and expands upon students' existing knowledge to develop the necessary skills needed to manage, supervise and coordinate the construction process from the conception stage (hello again, architects!) to the completion of the final project. Construction managers must oversee and foster key relationships with everyone from the architects to the subcontractors.
The School of Architecture at Pratt University describes construction management as a triangle. “The owner [is] at one point the architect, an engineer at another point and the construction manager at the third point.” Construction managers are an important and necessary role due to the increasingly complex designs and construction of structures in today’s world. Simply put: you, as the construction manager, hold the primary responsibility of orchestrating and executing the visions of the owner and the designs of the architect.
What to Expect
Intrigued? It’s best to come from an accredited university with a construction educational background, and professional experience will give you a major boost during the application process. You can expect to be enrolled in a construction management graduate program for roughly 2 years, taking courses such as:
· Construction Accounting
· Legal Issues in Real Estate Development
· Statistical Methods for Construction Planning
When evaluating programs, make sure the coursework clearly aligns with your career goals. Carl Sciple, director of the Master of Science in Construction Management program at Wentworth Institute of Technology, explains that programs differ between institutions. "Our MSCM program, for example, is business oriented and designed for people who aspire to be senior executives in the construction industry. As a result, we developed business-heavy courses and concentrations to best prepare our graduates to meet their career goals. If students aren't clear about their goals, they won't be able to select a program that best meets their needs."
Which Will You Choose?
While both degrees work interchangeably together, you now hold some key feature differences between the two. So, whether you choose your future career in Construction Management or the hybrid that is Architecture, you can rest be assured that you will be an integral part of the “triangle!”
Maria Pryschlak is a Charlotte-based writer and has a BA in English Literature from Mercy College.