What Is Architecture Major

Architecture is a major that embraces the creative process of developing, designing, and constructing buildings and other built spaces such as homes, schools, and parks. It requires the combination of science and art to create functional and aesthetically pleasing structures for society. An architecture major typically provides a broad education that includes both the design and technical aspects of building construction.

Architecture majors learn a wide range of topics, including history and design theory, drafting, urban and regional planning, materials, building codes, sustainability, and more. They must gain an understanding of engineering principles as these concepts are applied to the design of structures and materials. Student also learn the project management process, engineering related topics such as structural, mechanical and electrical systems, as well as computer aided design (CAD).

In addition to the theoretical aspects of architecture, students also gain practical experience. They are offered studio courses that allow them to work with real-world clients to develop design plans. This applied part of the major teaches creative problem-solving and communication skills that come in handy in the professional world. Architecture majors also gain valuable hands-on experience building physical models and plans for potential structures. Together, these processes help students learn how to actually construct a building.

When looking for an architecture major program, important factors to consider are accreditation, faculty qualifications, learning environment, lab requirements and whether the university has an established program or is still developing its reputation in this field. Most architecture programs must be accredited by the Higher Learning Commission or equivalent national bodies, although there may be exceptions.

The main point of pursuing an architecture major is to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to become a successful architect. Architects use design and engineering to create the various built environments we live and work in. Architects collaborate with other professionals to ensure that their designs are up to standard, while also safeguarding the safety of the occupants of the building. Architects must be able to think both critically and creatively, which makes the profession an excellent fit for many personality types.

Architecture is a demanding major that requires persistence and dedication. In order to succeed, students must be willing to devote themselves to their studies, understand the potential for long hours and be passionate about the work. Although it may seem daunting, most architecture students find the process rewarding and full of learning.

Structural System Knowledge:

Architecture major students must gain knowledge about structural systems. This includes gaining a thorough understanding of how engineering principles, such as physics and building codes, come together to create safe, structurally efficient designs. Additionally, students must research and develop new innovative systems to ensure all buildings are safe and efficient.

Staying up to date on the newest building codes and engineering advancements is an important part of an architecture major. Depending on their specialty, architecture majors may need to concentrate more on some aspects of engineering than others. For example, if someone wants to work on high-rise buildings, they would need to center more attention on understanding the principles of the lateral system.

Sketching and Drawing Skills:

Sketching and drawing are two essential components of an architecture major for several reasons. First, architects create new designs using these methods. Sketching helps architects visualize their ideas and drafts before they transition to digital mediums. Secondly, sketching and drawing help architects convey their designs to clients and colleagues, who may not understand a completely digital presentation.

Architecture students must gain the skills to both represent their thoughts accurately and express the complex ideas they create; this takes a combination of physical, traditional sketching and digital drafting. They must also have a strong understanding of composition, perspective, color theory, textures, and various materials.


An integral part of an architecture major is understanding the business side of the profession. Architecture can be a highly unsettling industry with many fluctuations and obstacles, so entrepreneurs must be equipped with the skills to handle the same. Architecture students must learn how to market themselves, network like a professional, build their portfolio effectively, and understand contract law.

It is important for architecture students to develop an entrepreneurial spirit because many individuals pursue architecture through starting their own businesses. Although the principles of architecture may remain the same, entrepreneurs must be creative and utilize non-traditional methods to turn a profit in the ever-evolving world of architecture.

Design Realization and Construction:

Another important part of an architecture major is the physical construction stage. Whether building 3D models, writing up plans, or physically constructing buildings, this contributes significantly to the major. Students must understand the various materials and tools used in the construction process, as well as the importance of safety, budget, and other considerations.

Construction is an important part of the entire design process. Students must understand the different building techniques and how the materials can be manipulated to create the desired results. The completed structure must perform as intended and be within the given budget. For example, in order to meet building codes, the structure must be properly anchored or reinforced with the appropriate materials.

Sustainable Design:

Sustainable design has become an increasingly important part of architecture in recent years. This is for two primary reasons. Firstly, sustainability is important for protecting the environment and ensuring the longevity of resources. Secondly, the public is becoming increasingly aware of the need for green buildings. Architects must understand sustainable design principles and incorporate them into projects.

Students must gain knowledge on the many methods to reduce the environmental impact of a building, such as energy efficiency, using recycled materials, and using alternate energy sources. Additionally, learning touch points between architecture and environmental science is becoming increasingly important to effectively create eco-friendly buildings in an urban context.

Civic Engagement:

Architects must be cognisant of the impact their work has on the lives of others. In accordance with this, an architecture major may include classes on civic engagement, which focuses on melding the field’s designs and practices into the greater societal needs and structures. This could include developing plans for housing, transportation networks, and other public spaces.

Architects must be conscious of the preconceived notions of the local communities, government regulations, and other points of view, then work to build a collaborative solution. This requires architects to use their communication and diplomacy abilities, as well as compromise and working with boundaries.

Interdisciplinary Understanding:

An architecture major requires strong communication and collaboration skills, since architects typically work with a wide range of professionals on projects. These professionals could include experts in engineering, urban planning, construction, operations, environmental studies, and various other areas. Understanding all the different perspectives and being able to integrate them into designs is critical to the success of any project.

Architectural projects often require a special combination of background knowledge and skills, which illustrates the interdisciplinary nature of architecture. This means that architects must be able to work with a broad range of individuals each with different specialty areas and skill sets. Communicating effectively with multiple experts is a necessary part of being a successful architect.

Anita Johnson is an award-winning author and editor with over 15 years of experience in the fields of architecture, design, and urbanism. She has contributed articles and reviews to a variety of print and online publications on topics related to culture, art, architecture, and design from the late 19th century to the present day. Johnson's deep interest in these topics has informed both her writing and curatorial practice as she seeks to connect readers to the built environment around them.

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