Architecture vs Civil Engineering: What’s the Difference?

Wide angle portrait of engineer drawing plans and making measurements at workplace

Designing and constructing a custom home takes a lot of work and collaboration from a number of different people with individual areas of expertise. Finding someone to single handedly take on every design and construction is simply unrealistic. And as elements of your new custom home begin to take shape, and more and more cooks enter the kitchen so to speak, it can be difficult to keep track of what teams are in charge of what tasks. And one of the more common examples we’ve come across relates to the topic of architecture vs civil engineering.

For those unfamiliar with the building process, it can be a little confusing as to what responsibilities fall under the respective umbrellas of architecture vs civil engineering. And while both are vital to the overall construction process, there’s actually very little overlap between the two highly distinguishable fields.

Architecture vs Civil Engineering

In a nutshell, architecture deals with the design and aesthetics of a project while civil engineering is necessary to ensure the project’s structural aspects are equipped to handle environmental elements. Generally, an architect will handle the design elements of a construction project and a civil engineer will find ways to make the construction itself feasible and safe.

How are architecture and civil engineering similar?

Both professions are involved in the design process and both are necessary to ensure that your project is built safely and to your specifications. There are cases in which a civil engineer will be more involved in the design process, but generally that’s a feat left to the architect or architecture firm. Typically, a civil engineer will take the plans created by the architect and come up with the best ways to make it possible. This may involve some back and forth between the teams in terms of plan alterations or modifications, but ultimately it is up to the civil engineer to make sure the project can be completed safely and structurally sound.

How are architecture and civil engineering different?

As a whole, the two fields are very different from one another, so we’ll approach this question from a general sense. An architect deals with spatial functionality and aesthetics and a civil engineer deals with structural elements to ensure that the architect’s design is reliable and able to withstand harsh elements without fail.

How do architecture and civil engineering work together?

Even though their fields and responsibilities are vastly different from one another, the architect and civil engineer are working toward the same goal: to create a safe and aesthetically pleasing custom home or building. The success of any construction project requires a positive and collaborative working relationship between the two teams.


At Mitchell Wall Architecture and Design, we are proud of the working relationships we’ve built over the years with civil engineers, inspectors, and contractors. We are happy to take the lead on your custom home design project and set you up with the right vendors if you so choose. We’re happy to be as involved as you need us to be throughout the process. For more information on architecture vs civil engineering, or to learn more about the steps necessary to start your own custom home, contact us.

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