An architect is a person who is involved in the planning, designing and oversight of a building's construction. The word "architect" (Latin: architectus) derives from the Greek arkhitekton (arkhi (chief) + tekton (builder))"). In the broadest sense an architect is a person who translates the user's needs into a physical, built solution. An architect must thoroughly understand the buildings and operation codes under which his or her design must conform. That degree of knowledge is necessary so that he or she is not apt to omit any necessary requirements, or produce improper, conflicting, ambiguous, or confusing requirements. Architects must understand the various methods available to the builder for building the client's structure, so that he or she can negotiate with the client to produce a best possible compromise of the results desired within explicit cost and time boundaries. The idea of what constitutes a result desired varies among architects, as the values and attitudes which underlie modern architecture differ both between the schools of thought which influence architecture and between individual practising architects.
Architects must frequently make building design and planning decisions that affect the safety and well being of the general public. Architects are required to obtain specialized education and documented work experience to obtain a license to practice architecture, similar to the requirements for other professionals. The requirements for practice vary from place to place (see below).
The most prestigious award a living architect can receive is the Pritzker Prize, often termed the "Nobel Prize for architecture." Other awards for excellence in architecture are given by national regional professional associations such as the American institute of Architects and Royal institute of British Architects. Other prestigious architectural awards are the Alvar Aalto Medal (Finland) and the Carlsberg Architecture Prize (Denmark).
Although the term "architect" refers to a professionally-qualified individual, the word is frequently used in the broader sense noted above to define someone who brings order to a built or non-built situation.