How are really large buildings (e.g. airports, skyscrapers, etc.) designed from an architectural standpoint? Who is in charge of designing what floors/lobbies/etc.?


How does an architectural firm split the work?

In: 3

90% is repetitive blocks. If you draw 1 airport bathroom set (male/Female), you just drew all 200 bathrooms. A single architect could realistically do 80% of the layout.

There is one overall firm that designs the project and does the renderings that you see in the press release. They will work with a specialist engineering firm around the structure, an interior architect, a landscape architect, and so on. If the skyscraper has an adjacent parking structure, there’s going to be engineers for that; the cladding on the outside will be specified by the site designer. They’ll engage a civil engineering firm to handle any changes to surrounding roads and other infrastructure.

Some of these functions may be handled by different departments of an especially large architecture firm, but the engineers are usually separate firms.

They put a bunch of architects and engineers in the room. The architects went to school to design things while the engineers went to school to build things. The engineers don’t know which room to make wide and open vs closed up with lots of walls and the architects don’t know how to make the building stay standing. The architects will give the engineers a design for the building, the engineers will do the math and figure out if they can make it work and if they can then hooray now they take it to a financial planner and get the money to hire builders and buy materials. If they can’t make it work they tell the architects to redesign the bad parts and then the process starts all over

When designing a building like that one of two things will usually happen. The first is that whoever is building it will accept proposals from a number of firms who will submit designs. The second is that you will go to a specific firm and hire them and tell them what you’re looking for. Oftentimes companies or universities will use the same firm to keep a consistent design. For example my college used the same firm for all of their buildings.

As far as who does what these firms will split up the labor however they do, which will vary from firm to firm. For something like the lobby of a skyscraper you probably have the most senior and experienced people doing that, while the mailroom could be done by a more junior architect. There’s a lot of cut and paste as well, all the bathrooms are going to look the same for example.

But I think your question seems to be, at least partially, how do you make sure everything works together when you have so many different people involved. This is through the use of a style guide or similar guidelines that tell people what rules they should follow to ensure that the design is consistent.

A great example of a style guide is in cartoons. The Simpsons has been running for 34 seasons, across those seasons literally thousands of different artists have worked on the show, yet it looks the same (with some changes of course) from episode to episode and season to season. This is because of the Simpsons Style Guide, a variant of which is found [here]( This style guide tells artists the rules of the show. For example Homer Simpson’s head is six eyeballs tall, Marge’s hair is twice the hight of her head, and characters should not be drawn cross eyed. This allows the show to have a consistent visual style even though there are a ton of different artists working on it.

An architectural firm (or movie studio or TV production) will have similar guidance for a project. They will have a bunch of internal rules that allow a number of different people, all with their own styles, to come together with one consistent vision.