What does an industrial architect do?

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What is an Industrial Architect?

Industrial architects specialize in the design and planning of industrial facilities, such as factories, warehouses, and manufacturing plants. Combining their knowledge of architecture, engineering, and construction, they create functional and efficient spaces that meet the unique needs of the manufacturing or production process. This involves consideration of factors such as the flow of materials and products, the equipment required for production, and the safety and comfort of workers. These architects may also be involved in the renovation and remodeling of existing industrial facilities.

In short, industrial architects play a vital role in helping to create and maintain the physical infrastructure responsible for producing and distributing the goods that we rely on every day. Their work is critical to the functioning of our economy.

What does an Industrial Architect do?

An industrial architect working with CAD software on a desktop computer.

The ultimate goal of the industrial architect is to maximize an industrial entity’s productivity, minimize waste, and reduce costs for both their client and the end consumer. Here is a snapshot of the activities that make up a typical day in the life of an industrial architect:

  • Collaborating with clients, engineers, and contractors to understand the requirements of the project and develop a design brief that meets those needs
  • Conducting site visits and surveys to assess the site conditions and ensure that the proposed design is feasible and appropriate for the site, and that any design changes or issues are addressed in a timely manner
  • Developing design concepts and creating detailed building layout plans, elevations, and specifications for the project, using computer-aided design (CAD) software; this could involve designing the layout of storage areas, loading docks, and truck traffic flow patterns
  • Reviewing and approving shop drawings and submittals from contractors and suppliers
  • Ensuring that their design is ergonomically sound, with sufficient ventilation and proper lighting, so as to create a safe and comfortable working environment for employees
  • Selecting appropriate materials and finishes and specifying equipment (such as conveyor and lifting systems) and fixtures for the project, taking into account factors such as cost, durability, and functionality
  • Conducting research on new materials, technologies, and building techniques that could be used to improve the efficiency and safety of industrial facilities
  • Ensuring that the design complies with local building codes, zoning regulations, and industry standards, and obtaining necessary permits and approvals; this could involve designing fire suppression systems, implementing security measures, and creating emergency response plans
  • Overseeing the construction process and working with contractors to ensure that the project is built to the required standards, within budget and on schedule
  • Updating project schedules and documenting progress
  • Consistently engaging with the client to provide updates and receive feedback
  • Conducting post-occupancy evaluations to assess the performance of the building and identify areas for improvement

Types of Industrial Architects
Now that we have a snapshot of the general responsibilities of an industrial architect, let’s take a look at the different types of industrial architects, each with their own focus and areas of expertise:

  • Manufacturing Facility Architects specialize in the design and construction of manufacturing plants, including the layout of production lines, the selection of equipment and machinery, and the integration of automated systems.
  • Warehouse and Distribution Center Architects focus on the design of warehouse and distribution facilities, including the layout of storage racks, loading docks, and traffic flow patterns for efficient movement of goods.
  • Energy and Utilities Architects specialize in the design and construction of energy and utility facilities, such as power plants, water treatment plants, and waste management facilities.
  • Industrial Park Architects are involved in the design and planning of industrial parks, which may include multiple buildings and facilities, as well as infrastructure such as roads, utilities, and landscaping.
  • Environmental / Green Design Architects specialize in designing industrial facilities that are environmentally sustainable and have a minimal impact on the natural environment. They focus on incorporating renewable energy sources, using recycled and recyclable building materials, and implementing green building practices.

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What is the workplace of an Industrial Architect like?

Industrial architects can work for a variety of organizations – in both the public and private sectors – that require their expertise in designing and managing industrial facilities. Here are some of their most common employers:

  • Architecture, engineering, and design firms – Many industrial architects work for architecture, engineering, and design firms that specialize in industrial design and construction. These firms may work on behalf of clients in various industries, such as manufacturing, warehousing, energy, and transportation.
  • Construction companies – Industrial architects may be employed by construction companies that specialize in industrial construction. These companies may work on behalf of clients to design and build new facilities, or to renovate or expand existing ones.
  • Industrial corporations – Some large industrial corporations have in-house design teams that include industrial architects. These architects may work on designing new facilities, improving existing ones, or managing the design and construction of facilities in different locations.
  • Government agencies – Industrial architects may be employed by government agencies that are responsible for managing and regulating industrial facilities. These agencies may require architects to design new facilities or to assess the safety and environmental impact of existing ones.
  • Consulting firms – Industrial architects may work for consulting firms that specialize in industrial design and construction. These firms may provide a wide range of services to clients, such as feasibility studies, site selection, project management, and cost estimation.

In addition to these employers, industrial architects may work in private practice.

The work environments of industrial architects can vary depending on their employer and specific role. Here’s an overview:

  • Office – Many industrial architects work in an office setting, spending much of their time using computer-aided design software and communicating with clients and project teams.
  • Construction site – Industrial architects may spend time on construction sites, especially during the initial phases of a project.
  • Manufacturing facility – When working on a project that involves designing a manufacturing facility, industrial architects may spend time on site to observe the production process and ensure that the facility design is optimized for efficiency and safety.
  • Travel – Depending on the scope of their work, industrial architects may travel frequently to meet with clients, inspect construction sites, and visit manufacturing facilities or other types of industrial facilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Industrial Architects are also known as:
Industrial Facilities Architect