The term “architecture” probably has as many definitions as there are people calling themselves architects. However, it has been adopted by many to describe the activity of defining the structure and/or behavior of a system or building that is to be constructed.

When used in relation to physical structures, “architecture” encompasses planning, designing and constructing physical environments that reflect functional, technical, social, environmental and aesthetic considerations. Architecture requires the creative manipulation and coordination of materials, technology, light and shadow. It also includes the pragmatic aspects of creating buildings and/or structures, including scheduling, cost estimating and administration.

In the late 20th century, the consideration of sustainability was added to the concepts of structure and function. To be sustainable, a building should be constructed in a manner that is environmentally friendly in terms of:

the production of its materials

its impact upon the natural and built environments of its surrounding area

the demands that it makes upon non-sustainable power sources for heating, cooling, water and waste management, and lighting


When used in relation to information, “architecture” refers to the art and science of organizing and labeling data – including websites, intranets, online communities, software, books and other information media – to develop usability and structural aesthetics. Typically, this involves a model or concept of information, which is used and applied to activities that require explicit details. These include library systems and database design, as well as the design of systems to access that information.


There is a growing network of active Information Architects who comprise the Information Architecture Institute. []



Architects typically produce documentation in the form of drawings, plans and specifications, which are used by others to create the finished product. Architects also create computer models.



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