The architect’s ability to listen and observe is paramount to a successful architectural design.

Architectural design requires a clear understanding of client goals, site characteristics, and project budget. Once information has been gathered and synthesized, a response to this information is presented via drawing and digital model. Initially, design solutions are loose and focus on spatial connections and relationships. As the design develops, design solutions focus on material, light, color, texture, and detailed connections. Finally, the design is presented as construction drawings and material specifications illustrating the decisions made by client and architect throughout the design process.

The following is a general description of the architect’s role throughout the design and construction process, as published by the American Institute of Architects:

The initial phase in which the architect and owner discuss the goals, needs, and function of the project; design expectations and available budget; and pertinent building code and zoning regulations. The architect assists owner in developing a realistic design and budget estimate.

Schematic Design
The architect provides concept sketches of design options and explains how they meet the requirements discussed in the predesign phase. The overall scope of the project, building materials proposed, and a preliminary budget related to the schematic design is also discussed. Refinements are discussed until the Owner approves the design.

Design Development
The architect prepares detailed drawings and finalizes the design plans, showing actual sizes and shapes of rooms. Also included is an outline of the construction specifications, which lists the major materials to be used. The design drawings and outlined construction specifications are reviewed and approved by the owner.

Construction Documents
One of the most important elements of an architect's services. The architect develops detailed drawings and materials specifications. The contractor will use both to estimate construction costs and to build the project.

Hiring the Contractor
The owner has several options available, including asking the architect to make contractor recommendations or choosing a contractor on their own. The architect can assist the owner in selecting contractors by reviewing bids and estimates based on the construction documents.

The architect represents the owner to the contractor and observes the pace and quality of construction. As the owner's agent, the architect looks out for the owner's interest, making the construction process go smoothly by keeping the owner informed of the project's progress and overseeing any changes or problems that may arise with the project.

Architect as Builder
The owner hires the architect to construct the project. The architect manages construction and contracts directly with the various construction trades. The architect is well suited to manage construction given the architect’s understanding of the project goals and design expectations, an established relationship with the client, and the ability to creatively address changes or problems that may arise during construction in a way that is consistent with the overall design of the project (with full knowledge of the construction budget and actual costs). Ironically, the notion of an architect leading a design-build team is considered new and innovative, it is actually a return to the construction approach employed for the millennia prior to the twentieth century, in which the architect was the designer and builder.