My answer to a question on Quora:
As a Principal of a firm of 80 architects undertaking medium-large projects I can give you a few perspectives based on my typical day. Apart from longish hours (architecture is still labour intensive… but that’s another answer for Quora) and an espresso or two, my day usually comprises of three key activities:
- reading & writing (via email or project management software)
- collaborating (talking with colleagues, meetings)
- designing (sketches, making decisions, problem solving)
Some other days involve site inspections to a project under construction, inspections of prototypes, or inspections at manufacturing plants (precast concrete, curtain walls etc.). Depending on the project these inspections might even be overseas. In my case, that has meant travel around the country, to China and even the UK.
The nature of your activities really depends on your level of professional experience and the type of projects undertaken by the practice. However the basic elements are the same, the proportions of time just change. For example, a typical day of one of my recent graduate team members would probably look like this:
A lot less reading and writing as drawing/modelling on CAD typically fills most of their day.
Unlike the romantic vision of an architect sitting around all day and sketching in a Moleskine, the reality is markedly different… except perhaps for some of the ‘stararchitects’.
So, despite the fact that only about 5-10% of your time is actually spent designing, pretty much every other activity or decision contributes to realising a project in some way.