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Examining the Differences Between Civil Engineering and Architecture

Zaha Hadid Architcts
There are a variety of jobs that, on the surface, sound very similar to each other. Two such fields are architecture and civil engineering. However, while architecture focuses on the designing and creating of buildings, civil engineering is a much broader topic. However, there are other differences that help set this two fields apart.

If someone is considering working towards a masters degree in civil engineering, this distinction is an important one to understand.

Key Jobs

One difference between being an architect and being a civil engineer can be traced back to the types of jobs that each does. While architects design buildings, cities, landscapes, and sometimes ships, a civil engineer does different work. True, they also design buildings, but they also build, supervise, and help maintain the things they build. These projects tend to be part of infrastructure, and can include bridges, dams, airports, and roads.

Structure versus Aesthetics

Civil engineers have a different focus than architects. A civil engineer is working to create a structure that can survive in a variety of elements, and withstand heavy loads. They are more concerned with the function of the product, rather than the look. This is because civil engineers create things like bridges, dams, and roads. While it is nice when these things look aesthetically pleasing, it is more important that they are functional. Architects, on the other hand, tend to focus on the way that the piece looks but while skilled in construction are also skilled in aspects such as interior design.

How does it make the people who see it feel? Is it a welcome addition to the neighborhood it is being built in? These are questions that an architect answers. Of course, architects are aware of how structurally sound their ideas are as well, and there are exceptions to this rule.

Zaha Hadid Architcts

However, when time comes to bring the design to life, civil engineers and architects work together. Civil engineers often take the designs of the architect and turns them into a reality. The two can then work together to make the architect’s vision come to life in the best and safest way. Despite their differences, the two can also work together during the design process, making the project greater than before.

Variety – Civil Engineers vs Architects

There are several varieties in the fields of architecture and civil engineering, each of which requires a different level of training and schooling. Architecture can be broken down into three categories, building, landscape, and navel. Each of these is self-explanatory, requiring a bachelors degree, training, and a license. While it is possible to become a civil engineer with the same path, many professionals pursue an advanced degree. This often takes the form of an online civil engineering masters degree. These programs, like the one offered at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, offer specializations in the subfields of construction management, transportation, and structural design and construction, as well as management certifications. Both fields have a variety of options available.

Zaha Hadid Architcts

Although civil engineers and architects do different jobs, they still often work together to create beautifully and structurally sound buildings. By working together, the strengths of both professions make the finished project that much better.

One of the best examples of architecture practice’s thriving on the cooperation between architects and civil engineers is the Zaha Hadid Architects. This renowned London based architecture firm, is known for the unparalleled talent of it’s founder, but also the out of this planet project designs. Zaha Hadid projects heavily rely on the work of civil engineers in their time, making the parametric movement founded by the firm possible. Without the work of the civil engineers together with the architects at Hadid’s office none of those projects would come to life. All of the images above by Zaha Hadid Architcts, browse the archive

Sparrow House In Culver City by Architect Samantha Mink

Nobu Hotel Shoreditch by Ben Adams Architects