Architects and Engineers The Keys to a Successful Relationship

The only constant in life is change—as they say—and that’s especially true for those living in New Jersey, where no community stays the same for long. Indeed, here in the Garden State, renovations are taking place, new capital improvements are required, and upgrades are in the works for condo and co-op common areas…all pretty much constantly. 

Whether a unit owner is looking to do a little remodeling or an association is attempting a building-wide capital improvement program that will affect all residents, odds are that an architect or engineer—often both—will be part of the process. While both parties perform many parallel functions, the two disciplines are not the same and often required to work in tandem.

Understanding Distinctions

“Architects and engineers do different things,” says Matt Jarmel, a principal with Jarmel Kizel Architects & Engineers, based in Livingston. “Architects focus on building, design and renovations, while engineers design the building systems…the HVAC or the electric.” 

“Many of our clients use the terms architect and engineer interchangeably—but in my opinion—architects have a broader training across all the spectrum of a building’s design, where an engineer is schooled in a specific discipline, like a structural engineer, mechanical, or industrial,” adds William Pyznar, a principal with the Falcon Group, an architectural and engineering firm headquartered in Bridgewater. “The architects are trained more on life-safety issues and general background.”

The New School of Architecture and Design agrees, stating that architects are responsible for designing the aesthetics and spatial details of a building’s project, and seeing to it that the overall end-use objectives of the client are met. Once the architect and client are in agreement, the architect provides the engineer with detailed architectural designs. It is under this framework that the engineer will design the building’s systems themselves.

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