Know The Difference: How Architects and Engineers Are Wired Differently.


I have a whole lot of respect for Engineers, because they do the nitty-gritty things I personally don’t have the attitude nor competence to do.

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with complex mathematical processes. So it’s no surprise that as I look back at the embedded engineering courses I had to brave to get my architecture degree, I feel like I escaped the depths of hell. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But for the most part, I’m somehow in disbelief that I got through a litany of requirements where I had to:

– Calculate for stress, strain, shear, bending, torsion, overturning moment in a footing, retaining wall, column, beam, or what have you.
– Determining the spacing of stirrups, area of steel bars needed, effective depths, etc. etc.
– Calculating and deriving load schedules and riser diagrams to express our electrical set-up.
– Calculating septic tank sizes, pipe diameters, fixture units, and other plumbing mathematics.
– Okay. I don’t want to remember anymore. 

I DID, however, really enjoy the conceptual parts of my engineering courses.

Concept Diagrams

Power Planning

I loved structural conceptualization, understanding and demonstrating through diagrams how my design’s configuration could be improved to fit into a better structural framework.

I was fascinated at the rules-of-thumb and principles we were supposed to take note of as architects to ensure our design was workable and with integrity.

I was fine, and even confident in planning out my site judiciously to locate my circuit breakers, fan rooms, genset rooms, power outlets, and the like.

I understood the merits of having foresight in my design process such that I could layout initial schemes with locations of septic tanks, cisterns, overhead water tanks, and allow my designs to circulate water safely and cost efficiently.

I felt proud when I could create a balcony that was not only a sun shade or rest space, but also a judiciously placed element where I planned to effectively locate my ACCUs.

Integrating Fire and Life Safety systems and carefully studying their ramifications felt necessary to me by nature. So learning all about them felt more like a knowledge treat than a requirement.

Basically, anything that crossed the line over to complex calculations would get my knees weak.

But this is all well and good, because I signed up to become an architect. And architects and engineers are two different things.


Engineers are trained to be specialists. They need to know a whole lot about one discipline (sanitary, structural, electrical, mechanical, etc), and they have to understand it to the last decimal point. The brains of engineers are wired to be able to withstand empirical onslaught.

They have to know just about everything about something. In an orchestra, they are the virtuoso who play one instrument – and play it brilliantly. 

Architects, on the other hand, are trained to be the maestro of an orchestra. They aren’t specialists, they are generalists. We need to know the principles and concepts behind all the professions so we can synthesize them into a cohesive, effective, and humane design.

Basically, architects are trained to know something about everything. They’re the glue that holds all the great, brilliant pieces together, checking and balancing, which is why they are also extremely valuable. They’re not specialists, and they don’t need to be.

Laboratory 8

Architects don’t focus on numbers and loads – they focus on people, and trying to make people live better.

So they make designs that allow people to thrive in their lives – increasing productivity, well-being, pleasure, and driving humanity to thrive and move forward.

To do this, they work together with great specialists – the Engineers. By mastering the physical laws and empirical data to the tiniest decimal, these virtuosos aid in bringing the best designs to functional reality. Truly, it’s a match made in heaven, if you think about it.

So as you can see, all professions have their great purposes and contributions to humanity. It’s all about understanding how they work together through their complementary roles.

So lift your hat, and be proud that whatever profession you chose is a great contribution to mankind. 🙂


In future posts, I’ll be showing you in greater detail just why the architecture profession is so valuable, and what awesome superpowers trained architects develop over time. Stay tuned for that.

Keep well,



Did you like what you just read? There’s more where that came from! Click the image below to check out all the posts in the category of FORMATION!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s