Posts tagged with "AIA":

Infrastructure: The Architecture Lobby National Think-In

Day 2: T-A-L Sessions Saturday, 6/23, 10a.m.-7p.m. At Javits Center, NYC This Think-In is divided into two parts over two days: active engagement with relevant session at the AIA National convention to ensure substantive dialogues on professional issues on Friday, June 22; and Think-In panel discussions on Saturday, June 23 at Prime Produce that examine the theme of Infrastructure. Infrastructure is the network of systems necessary for an organization to function. When those systems are degraded enough, the defining functions of the organization fail. The Architecture Lobby has selected this theme for its first National Think-In to generate a way forward and rebuild our discipline’s infrastructure. Check this space for more details soon!

Infrastructure: The Architecture Lobby National Think-In

Day 1: AIA Sessions Friday, 6/22/ 7a.m.-7p.m. At Javits Center, NYC This Think-In is divided into two parts over two days: active engagement with relevant session at the AIA National convention to ensure substantive dialogues on professional issues on Friday, June 22; and Think-In panel discussions on Saturday, June 23 at Prime Produce that examine the theme of Infrastructure. Infrastructure is the network of systems necessary for an organization to function. When those systems are degraded enough, the defining functions of the organization fail. The Architecture Lobby has selected this theme for its first National Think-In to generate a way forward and rebuild our discipline’s infrastructure. Check this space for more details soon!

Equity and inclusion surge to the forefront of the AIA conference

With only a couple of days left until the AIA Conference on Architecture 2018 (A’18) brings thousands of architects to New York City, many industry professionals are taking the opportunity to raise awareness about inequality, discrimination, and harassment in the field. A flash mob, workshops on #MeToo, and a resolution requiring ethical and equitable workplaces are all in the cards for this year’s conference. The rise of the #MeToo movement and the harassment and assault allegations against Richard Meier exposed fault lines in the architectural community that some say were always buried just below the surface. Women in architecture have been speaking up as a result, and architects are using this year’s convention as a national platform to make their voices heard. Frances Halsband, FAIA, co-founder of Kliment Halsband Architects, started a petition asking the AIA to amend their code of ethics to require that member workplaces must be free of discrimination, harassment, and abuse. Halsband’s petition and accompanying Fellowship is Leadership resolution, originally sent to 60 AIA Fellows, has signatures from nearly 500 fellows at the time of writing, over ten times the amount required to bring an item to a vote. "When I looked around, other architectural organizations were dealing with what had happened much more swiftly, and it seemed to me that the AIA was not doing enough," Halsband told AN. "I felt it was up to the Fellows to take a stand. If we’re supposed to be setting the standard, then we should set the standard." She added, "It’s one thing to belong to an organization that speaks for you; that’s a passive role. It seemed to me this is so important that individual people wanted to say, 'I believe this; I’m doing this.'" The petition was quickly codified into a resolution that Halsband will be bringing to the floor of the AIA Conference on the afternoon of June 20 during the Business Meeting. Each of the delegates representing all AIA members will be given the chance to vote on whether to adopt the amendment. AN has reached out to the AIA and will update this article accordingly with any comment from the organization, as well as after the discussion and vote. On Friday, June 22, a flash mob intending to raise awareness of the discrimination and harassment that women in architecture experience, similar to the one staged at this year’s Venice Biennale, will gather at 12:30 pm at the AIA "member lounge" in the Crystal Pavilion on 34th Street and 11th Ave at the Javits Center. Beverly Willis, FAIA, of the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, a nonprofit that advances the recognition and contributions of women in architecture, and Caroline James, who started the petition to retroactively award Denise Scott Brown the 1991 Pritzker, will be leading the charge. The AIA is hosting its own handful of workshops on equitable practices in the workplace as well. On Friday, June 22, visitors can attend the “Harassment in the Workplace, Part 1—Compliance and Culture: Building a Respectful & Harassment-Free Workplace Culture” workshop from 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM. After learning how to recognize and avoid harassment in the workplace, conference guests can follow up with “Harassment in the Workplace, Part 2—Community and Resources: Hearing Voices & Exploring Conversation Strategies,” a panel on Saturday from 8 AM to 9 AM. Syracuse University’s Fisher Center at 19 East 31st Street will be holding a hackathon for equality on Wednesday from 1 PM to 5PM, where established architects and emerging voices can come together and present radical ideas for making architecture practices more diverse, equitable, and open spaces. Back at the Javits, interested visitors can stop by “The Missing 32 Percent (Women) & Missing Small Architects” on Thursday from 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM and learn about the roadblocks that women in architecture face on their paths towards representation and recognition. The Architecture Lobby will be using the conference as a springboard for its own set of talks and workshops on Friday and Saturday. Saturday’s “Infrastructure: The Architecture Lobby National Think-In” will gather a diverse set of participants and build a dialogue about how to fix both the hard and “soft” (intangible) problems plaguing architecture. At the Think-In, the “Labor” session from 2 PM to 3:15 PM will address the problems of low wages, long hours, and the lack of job security facing architects; the “#MeToo” session from 3:30 PM to 4:45 PM will tackle the backlash that accusers often face when coming forward; and the “Alternative Forms of Professional Organization” session from 5 PM to 6:15 PM will examine how architecture practices and architects as individuals can best order themselves and create mutually beneficial professional structures. All of these sessions will be held at Prime Produce, a nonprofit gathering space at 424 W 54th Street.

35 booths not to miss at the AIA 2018 Architecture Expo

The AIA 2018 Conference is almost here, and architects are already flocking to New York City for one of the biggest architecture events each year. The AIA Architecture Expo will be happening on June 21-22. The theme this year is "Blueprint for Better Cities," featuring materials that have a controlled ecological footprint. More than 800 leading brands and manufacturers will exhibit their cutting-edge technologies in the 200,000-square-feet gallery at the Javits Center. If you are planning your visit to the A’18 Expo, be sure to visit our editors’ picks of manufacturers and brands (which are also our distinguished sponsors). AkzoNobel - 449 Avenere Cladding - Swirnow - 4366 Bison Innovative Products - 4344 C.R. Laurence - 1945 Cambridge Architectural Mesh - 1715 Florim - 215 FunderMax GmbH - 662 GKD-USA, Inc. - 957 Graphisoft - 105 greenscreen - 828 Guardian Glass - 1003 InsiteVR - 1374 IrisVR - 1362 J.E. Berkowitz - 1981 Kawneer - 556LL LaCantina Doors - 1329 NBK North America - 4703 PlanGrid - 4006 PPG - 4225 Rieder North America - 4631 Rigidized Metals - 4540 ROCKWOOL - 1411 SageGlass - 4737 Shildan Group - 2657 Specified Technologies - 735 Swisspearl - 1562 TerraCORE - 4353 Tournesol Siteworks - 4630 Tremco Commercial Sealants & Waterproofing - 4937 Unilock - 4835 Viracon - 1767 Vitro Architectural Glass - 1631 Vitrocsa/ HIRT Windows, divisions of Goldbrecht - 2531 W&W Glass, LLC/Pilkington Planar Structural Glass - 1681 YKK AP America - 507

Why are there so few disabled architects and architecture students?

In the United States, people with disabilities in the architecture profession and architectural academia are statistically invisible. Neither the American Institute of Architects, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, nor the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture collect data on the number of architects or architecture students in the United States who self-identify with physical or cognitive disabilities.  The groundbreaking report, “Inclusion in Architecture,” published by the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City at the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York, does not include data on disability. The lack of knowledge about disabled architecture students and architects in the United States stands in contrast to other strides made in diversification, equity, and inclusion. The profession’s self-examination—statistically and culturally—has forced a significant transformation in who can become an architect in the United States. Looking at attendance in colleges, faculty appointments, and representation at professional events, architecture appears to be a more diverse profession in terms of race and gender than it was 50 years ago. From celebrated architects to the deans of the most elite architecture schools, we can see efforts at diversification making a mark. Diversification is critical in architecture because ideas about race, gender, ability, and disability are formed and reproduced in the design and construction of buildings and urban spaces. The absence of disabled architecture students, architects, and particularly academic and institutional leaders within the United States relegates people with disabilities to being a a topic of discussion versus agents of change. In fact, a strand of disability theory argues that disability is a relative category, constructed in spaces that produce disabled bodies and minds. But whether perceived as innate or relative, a medical sensibility underpins many discussions of disability in architecture, because if people with disabilities are considered at all, it is as the subjects within spaces as opposed to the creators of them. This is due to several structural issues that prohibit people with disabilities from envisioning a future in which they participate in architecture in all its myriad manifestations. One key area that limits accessibility to architecture as a profession is the actual buildings where architecture education takes place. While numerous architecture schools are entirely accessible to people with disabilities, the majority of the elite Ivy League schools of architecture—Yale University, Harvard University, Princeton University, Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University—have historically had physically inaccessible spaces for people with lower-limb disabilities. In the 1990s, years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Yale, Princeton, Cornell, and Columbia still contained facilities inaccessible or difficult to access for people in wheelchairs. Almost all of these schools of architecture have been renovated, but key spaces—lecture halls (particularly the podium of the lecture hall where people speak), pin-up spaces, offices—remain either inaccessible or difficult to access.  Again, many schools have these problems, but these elite institutions have a disproportionate influence on the profession. We have lost out on multiple generations of architect leaders with disabilities who might have offered key perspectives on architecture, not only because of the barriers literally constructed in the architecture of elite institutions, but also due to the ways we imagine the production of architectural knowledge. For example, architectural education requires a thorough knowledge of historic precedents, but how do we imagine the spaces in which this knowledge is acquired? Consider the imagined physical commitment required to understand the discipline’s history, embedded in sites such as the Acropolis of Athens, the Roman Forum, or Teotihuacan, among numerous other examples. For the able-bodied, these sites are challenging places to visit—an observation confirmed by the writings of architects including Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, and Alvar Aalto. But both the Acropolis and the Roman Forum were far more easily navigated thousands of years ago (by contemporary standards) than they are today as “modernized” sites of architectural preservation. The early 19th-century Romantic notion of experiencing ruins under physical exertion has been permanently built into the experience of many important architectural monuments. This is a key aspect of historiographical aesthetics virtually unexplored in the literature or teaching of architectural historical practice. In other words, a romanticism of the body’s relationship to historical spaces hangs over the experience of architectural history, one that is furthered in the descriptions of these remote sites in classrooms and our expectations regarding the experience of the past. If the design of spaces of education and historical knowledge shape ideas about the abilities of architects, then the physical spaces encountered within architecture internships also require critical analysis. The ADA has enabled people with physical and cognitive disabilities in the United States far greater access to all types of buildings and public spaces. However, the ADA does not govern all construction sites. Even if architecture schools in the U.S. make a concerted effort to improve accessibility, there are several impediments to students with various disabilities becoming architects. It is virtually impossible to undertake an architectural internship without being able to navigate the relationship between the making of architectural representations in offices and the material assembly of architecture on a construction site. To imagine the increased accessibility of construction sites is utopian but necessary, primarily because doing so would re-envision the types of people who create architecture tout court. Labor unions might pursue this to further workplace safety. The latter is a staggering problem in an industry that is extraordinarily and needlessly dangerous: Over a 45-year career, someone working construction will have a 75 percent chance of acquiring a disability from a workplace injury. Construction work accounts for only 3 percent of employment in the United States and almost a quarter of all workplace injuries. Thus, we arrive at the most disturbing point about disability and architecture—the construction of buildings produces disability more than any other sector of the economy. To imagine the accessibility of a building extending from the people who dig its foundations to those who use its interiors enables us to reimagine what a building is at an ontological level. It radically transforms the disabled from being the subjects of spaces to the agents of architecture’s conceptualization and construction at the most granular level. Architects and architecture students are working at a time when discourses on diversity, equity, and inclusion have made measurable transformations within architectural academia and the greater profession. This has led to new generations of African-American, Latinx, and Asian-American teachers and students, the expansion of global architecture history curricula, and student organizations focused on race and gender, among many other outcomes. It is time that we let people with disabilities partake in this important transformation occurring in American architectural education and the profession. Of course, these forms of identification are not isolated, and opportunities exist for understanding intersecting and mutually reinforcing relationships among various forms of subjectivity and disability. In recent years, academic architecture panels, journals, and symposia have brought disability perspectives to architecture.  These are important contributions. However, in many of these venues, no architects with permanent and severe disabilities were present to represent this particular form of identity. As this article demonstrates, the structural limitations to a career as an architect with disabilities run deep, and the limitations to academic leadership in this area run deeper. To imagine disability having a place in architecture will involve much more than making buildings accessible or identifying people with disabilities and making entreaties to them to enter the profession. It will involve expensive transformations to the physical spaces of colleges and universities; a lessening of the athletic aesthetics of architecture history, theory, and design; and legal structures that will open a field like construction to more people. If we pursue these transformations in the accessibility of space, discourse, and construction, we will likely see a parallel shift in the types of people who imagine becoming an architect and leading this profession. In turn, the discussion of accessibility and its realization in the design and construction of buildings will enter a new, more sophisticated, and ethical stage of development. David Gissen is Professor of Architecture at the California College of the Arts. He became an above-the-knee amputee while an architecture student in the early 1990s – a surgery related to an earlier childhood illness.

How can architects balance security and openness in school design after mass shootings?

In the wake of the horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, we the members of the American Institute of Architects Committee on Architecture for Education (AIA CAE), feel compelled to express our collective sympathies to all affected by this horrible tragedy. Since the school shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, there have been over 200 school shootings with nearly 150,000 Americans directly affected by these incidents. The courage, grace, eloquence, and poise of the students from Stoneman Douglas serve as an inspiration to us all. We hear their call for action and stand ready to support the cause. As architects of educational environments across the learning continuum, we look to Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) guidelines to help us design school facilities that discourage criminal behavior and bullying through the incorporation of unobtrusive security features that are compatible with positive learning environments. These include providing clear sightlines to parking lots from staffed administration locations, limiting building access to a single entry point with a sallyport design, target hardening through security glazing, enhancing passive supervision through interior transparency, territorial reinforcement through fencing and thoughtful landscaping, and other solutions. One of the dangers of these and other school hardening strategies, however, is that these measures alone aren’t enough. Sandy Hook Elementary and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had some of the “target hardening” elements described in many CPTED standards installed, and it didn’t stop perpetrators from entering the schools and causing tragedies. As architects, we are being asked to develop designs that provide for bullet-proof glass, secure entry vestibules, surveillance camera systems, etc. These can be beneficial to deter an active shooter and can also aid in providing deterrents for bullying and other unfavorable behavior, but they are not the exclusive answer. Our clients are being barraged with offers from various manufacturers about products that will shield students in the event of an active-shooter situation, and you can certainly understand the pressure from parents and community members to provide these measures and more to keep their kids safe. While we believe the safety and security of students, educators and administrators on school campuses are of paramount importance, it is our responsibility as architects, however, to serve as a counterpoint to some of these hardening tactics. We cannot let fear dictate design or advocate for designing our schools to resemble prisons. Our schools and communities deserve more from us. It is important to create spaces that are warm and welcoming to students, educators, and communities. We often work with schools, districts, and colleges to balance the need for safety and security with a strong desire for flexibility, collaboration and connection. In addition to providing enhanced security measures, we also need to look at research on provisions of “soft design” as well. In response to the MSD school shooting, we have seen many school and university officials, national educational organizations, affiliated organizations, and individuals come together as an interdisciplinary group to develop a “Call for Action to Prevent Gun Violence in the US” where they stress the importance of creating stronger, more connected school communities focused on development and identification of soft skills in students to reduce the incidence of isolation, depression, bullying and discrimination in our schools. The design of schools can and should be an active partner in this conversation. Through transparency, adjacency, and the creation of warm, welcoming environments, architects can provide the physical spaces to nurture these activities. Svigals + Partners redesigned Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, after the horrifying 2012 shooting that killed twenty students and six adults. Today, it stands as a shining example of how to provide the highest safety and security features while emphasizing its educational mission and connection to the community. The members of the AIA CAE are fortunate in our work to bear witness to the incredible efforts of educators and administrators of public and private schools. In addition to their diligent focus on developing the knowledge, skills, and character of their students, we have seen how hard they work, within their often-meager resources, to attend to the social and emotional needs of their students. Today’s students face issues of stress, drug and alcohol abuse, anxiety, depression and mental illness in quantities never before seen. It is through this lens that we understand the critical need for space and resources to support the creation of strong communities where each and every student feels heard, accepted and loved. Design of collaborative areas, transparency, and informal learning environments are keys to supporting next generation learning practices and to creating a strong sense of connectedness within a school or university campus. Although it is an uncomfortable and often controversial topic, no conversation about school safety and security can be complete without addressing the issue of gun ownership and safeguards. Recommendations to train and arm teachers to protect their students are inconsistent with the expert advice from school resource officers, school administrators, and teachers we encounter every day as we work with them to design safe and nurturing school communities. The National Association of School Resource Officers, the leading organization in school-based policing, issued a statement in the days following the MSD massacre opposing arming teachers. In the discussions we have with our school and university clients across the country, it is often stated that the answer to providing greater security on school campuses is fewer guns, not more. The leaders of the AIA CAE have heard from school and university administrators, educators, and students that we need to join them to compel our legislators to enact common-sense gun laws that are supported by a vast majority of Americans.  The protection of responsible gun ownership and the prevention of gun violence can both be achieved through thoughtful and forceful legislation that works in concert with mental health services and safe school design to ensure our schools remain a bastion of hope for our nation’s children. The voices of the Stoneman Douglas students and those from around the country that are joining them should inspire us all to be contributors to the solution. The time for words is over and the time for action is now. The leadership group of the AIA CAE continues to work closely with AIA National staff and officers to find ways to encourage a continued, multidisciplinary, and comprehensive dialogue around school safety and security. While working with a school community to envision their new school, we were recently asked, “How can the architecture support relationships?” This should be the lens we are using in designing our schools, and we as the AIA CAE look forward to continuing to develop opportunities at the national and local level to further this very important conversation. We hope you will join us! Karina Ruiz is vice chair of the American Institute of Architects Committee on Architecture for Education.

AIA announces 2018 Diversity Recognition Program honorees

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced the 2018 honorees of its Diversity Recognition Program, now in its 10th year. The program seeks to recognize those who have substantially committed to increasing diversity in the field of architecture, as well as those who have challenged the traditional ways of doing things. This year’s honorees are the Maryland-based Architecture, Construction, Engineering Mentor Program (ACE), and the organization, Iowa Women in Architecture (iaWia). The ACE Mentor Program, founded in 1994 in Rockville, Maryland, is a workforce development program created by AEC industry members as a way of getting high school students interested in a career in design or construction. The program supplies students with scholarships, mentorship opportunities, and support as they pursue an education in an AEC field. To date, over 1,000 schools and 9,000 students participate in the program annually, and ACE has awarded over $15 million in grants and scholarships since its founding. Iowa Women in Architecture was co-founded by four women in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2011 as a nonprofit that would support women in architecture and serve as a resource for every stage of the profession. The group’s mission is to increase the visibility of women in design, advocate for women in design fields, and to help advance women to leadership positions. This year’s AIA jurors included:
  • Steven Spurlock, FAIA,
  • Linsey Graff, Assoc. AIA, and
  • Jonathan Penndorf, FAIA
Both honorees will be recognized at the 2018 AIA Conference on Architecture in New York City this June. Past honorees have included AIA San Francisco – Equity by Design (2017) and The Alberti Program: Architecture for Young People (2016).

AIA awards $100,000 in research initiatives grants

The winners of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) 11th annual Upjohn Research Initiative have been announced, and $100,000 in grants will be split among the four recipients. Those chosen will receive funding for 18 months to pursue research projects that push the boundaries of design, and their results will be published nationally. This year’s grant recipients leaned heavily on designs inspired by nature: Half of the group will study the various benefits of biophilia, while another project will examine how biodiversity impacts a structure’s ecological resilience. The 2018 winners are as follows:
  • The Impact of Biophilic Learning Spaces on Student Success
Principal Investigators: James Determan, FAIA (Hord Coplan Macht) and Mary Anne Akers, PhD (Morgan State University) With help from the Salk Institute and Terrapin Bright Green, the team will create a biophilic classroom using patterns and shapes from nature, as well as improved views and natural lighting. The performance of students in the classroom will be measured over time to examine the relationship between biophilic design and the success of the students using it.
  • Biophilic Architecture: Sustainable Materialization of Microalgae Facades
Principal Investigator: Kyoung-Hee Kim, PhD (University of North Carolina at Charlotte) How can algae be integrated into facade systems? That’s what Kim’s team is trying to find out, and the project will involve prototyping a microalgae facade and codifying best practices for using it in the future. These “live facades” have been used to generate heat and algae biomass in past small-scale projects successfully.
  • Biodiverse Built Environments: High-Performance Passive Systems for Ecologic Resilience
Principal Investigator: Keith Van de Riet, PhD, Assoc. AIA (University of Kansas) What are passive architectural systems that architects and designers can use without needing to expend operational energy? Van de Riet’s team will study the integration of biodiversity requirements into the criteria for high-performance passive systems. In this case, a full-scale living wall panel will be installed over an existing seawall in a tidal estuary. The integration of living systems with the built environment will be monitored for both the health of the panel as well as its performance in a stressful, real-world situation.
  • Tilt Print Lift - Concrete 3D Printing for Precast Assemblies
Principal Investigators: Tsz Yan Ng (University of Michigan) and Wesley McGee (University of Michigan) 3-D printing concrete has been used to great effect in producing boxy structures, but Ng and McGee will be researching how complicated wall panels can be produced in the same way. The process should theoretically allow wall panel systems to be produced in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the novel, geometric designs will need to be performance-tested before they can be used in the field. The team will also be looking into how 3-D printed panels stack up to precast-produced pieces. All of the previously published Upjohn research can be viewed here.

Trump’s steel tariffs are already squeezing the construction industry

Less than two weeks after President Trump signed sweeping 25 percent steel tariffs and 10 percent aluminum tariffs into law, the construction industry is already smarting, according to a report by National Real Estate Investor. Although the tariffs exclude steel coming from Canada and Mexico (at the time of writing), interviews with developers and those in the construction industry suggest that some projects are already seeing steel increase in cost by up to 10 percent. The culprit is speculation about price increases six to twelve months down the line, after the full impact of the tariffs make themselves felt. The panic isn’t without precedent. A 21 percent tariff imposed on imported Canadian timber in November of last year, used in 25 percent of wood-framed projects in the U.S., led to a nationwide rise in construction costs for single and mid-family homes. Contractors were forced to raise their prices, cut back on their use of timber, switch to steel, or change the design of their homes to use less materials. Joe Pecoraro, a project executive at Chicago-based general contractor Skender, told National Real Estate Investor that a client developing affordable housing might be forced to delay their project if steel costs rose any further. “Uncertainty drives people to be very conservative, risk-averse. It is affecting our deals,” said Pecoraro. Ironically, domestic steel fabricators may be hit harder than international firms as a result of the tariffs only targeting raw steel. With costs rising for their raw materials, Engineering News Record has reported that some domestic fabricators have already lost jobs to competitors based in Canada and Mexico. 1.2 million tons of fabricated steel was produced in the U.S. with imported materials in 2017, which went towards building bridges, roads and buildings. Two days before President Trump signed the tariff order, the AIA had released a statement warning that rising material costs would lead to decreased project budgets and potentially stifle architectural innovation. It remains to be seen how the tariffs will affect the country’s building boom in the long term, but those in the steel industry are still onboard.

AIA speaks out against Trump’s proposed steel and aluminum tariffs

New tariffs on steel and aluminum proposed by President Donald Trump will have negative effects on the American design and construction industries, American Institute of Architects (AIA) leadership has said in a statement. The Trump administration's plan would impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, something that experts say will have wide ranging effects on both trade and the domestic economy. And while the issue is being hotly debated on the national and international stage, the AIA is weighing in with a striking warning that a rise in material costs could mean major losses for the U.S. economy. "The Administration’s announcement of new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports threatens to drastically increase the prices of many building materials specified by architects. These metal products are some of the largest material inputs in the construction of buildings. Structural metal beams, window frames, mechanical systems and exterior cladding are largely derived from these important metals," AIA President Carl Elefante, FAIA, and EVP/Chief Executive Officer Robert Ivy, FAIA, said in a statement in response to the proposed tariffs. “As creative problem solvers, architects rely on a variety of these materials to achieve functional and performance goals for their clients. Inflating the cost of materials will limit the range of options they can use while adhering to budgetary constraints for a building," they said. "By the same token, the Administration’s proposed infrastructure funding will not achieve the same value if critical materials become more expensive. Furthermore, the potential for a trade war risks other building materials and products. Any move that increases building costs will jeopardize domestic design and the construction industry, which is responsible for billions in U.S. Gross Domestic Product, economic growth, and job creation.”

NCARB responds to concerns about licensing

Over the past several years, there has been an uptick in political activity addressing the value of regulation. It is important to distinguish protective regulations for professions such as architecture from efforts focused on “occupational” regulation, aimed at improving job opportunities for returning veterans, blue-collar workers, and underemployed individuals. Without this distinction, legislative overreach could unintentionally remove important protections to the public’s health, safety, and welfare.

This is why the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) supports the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) “Where We Stand” statement on professional licensure and the important role architecture licensing boards play in ensuring a safe built environment. In fact, NCARB model laws and programs, along with its NCARB Certificate, address many of the core issues such as mobility and inter-state consistency that are inviting criticism of the entire licensure and regulatory spectrum.

It’s important that architects understand how their own regulatory framework functions. NCARB serves as a federation of the country’s 54 jurisdictional boards that license and regulate architecture. These boards contribute several hundred volunteers who regularly develop examination questions, monitor the relevance of national models for education and experience requirements, and develop alternatives to licensure for those taking untraditional paths. The ability to modernize architectural licensure while retaining essential rigor has assured that reasonable regulation equates to public protection.

With mobility and portability a key focal point of current regulatory scrutiny, it is noteworthy that NCARB was created by state licensing board architects who sought a more standardized process along with reciprocity across state boundaries. Today, there are more reciprocal architect licenses issued in the U.S. than resident licenses. Yet despite this proven process, lawmakers continue to consider overreaching bills with negative impact on architecture boards’ ability to protect the public. Most recently, NCARB funded AIA South Dakota to assure that any revamp to regulation would provide an opt out for professions with established paths to reciprocity (including architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, and land surveying) from a “temporary licensing compact” proposal.

Modernizing the Path to Licensure

Similar to medicine and law, architecture is one of roughly 60 professions that is regulated in all states and territories. Each of the 54 boards is legally responsible for issuing licenses and regulating practice within its borders, utilizing NCARB models at their discretion. Each of these jurisdictions, in varying formats, has determined that three essential steps to architectural licensure are required: meet specific requirements for architectural education, earn real-world experience through the Architectural Experience Program™ (AXP™), and pass the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®).

In a continued effort to eliminate unnecessary hurdles for candidates, NCARB membership, through the state boards, has updated and streamlined these programs—without sacrificing the rigor needed to protect the public. Recent changes include: removing the experience program’s elective hours from reporting requirements and allowing an alternative work portfolio option for experienced designers; aligning the licensing exam to the “phases of practice,” eliminating vignette software and introducing case studies; and streamlining alternative paths for those with diverse educational backgrounds. These changes have also reduced the average fees for licensure candidates and NCARB Certificate applicants.

Together, the 54 NCARB Member Boards and over 300 architect volunteers function to ensure architects have the skills and knowledge needed to create safe spaces, striking the right balance between reasonable regulation and protecting the public.

Michael J. Armstrong is the CEO of NCARB, a nonprofit that develops and administers national programs for utilization by the 54 jurisdictions regulating licensure candidates and architects.

Readers react to AIA’s statement on removing licensing requirements

The AIA has publicly denounced the decision of some states to remove licensure requirements for architects, a move that left some of our readers feeling rather verklempt. When the news broke last month, our comments section hosted a healthy confab on the issue. And dear readers, we hear you! While the debate brews on, here's a well-rounded takeaway of what has been said thus far: "Would you like to have an unregistered doctor? On the other hand removing the costly grip of NCARB would be a positive thing," admitted Caleb Crawford. Erin Walker agreed the licensing process was necessary, but ultimately the tests were are a ploy to make money, not test knowledge: "There should be a practice requirement for people holding roles on state boards, and NCARB. It seems that a lot of these people are just trying to catch a gravy train and have lost touch with doing any actual work." "I'd really like to see examples of how the licensing requirements have changed," fumed Bryan Wick. But Matthew Harmon had an another take on how to solve the problem: "A better idea would be to require prospective architects to actually build something. In my view, designing a building without an understanding of how it gets built is irresponsible, economically, socially, and from an environmental standpoint." Meanwhile, Conrad Skinner felt that the whole process was unnecessary and demeaning, considering that codes dictated best practices and that students at accredited schools were already tested in all major areas: "There is an element of sadism in the architectural credential process. For how long should a person who is good at architecture, or any art, have to prove over and over to bureaucrats that they are worthy of practicing?" On the other hand, Edward Casagrande argued that education- and technology-based curriculums were the real problem: “The need to edify the human spirit has been sacrificed to CAD, tech templates and an arrogant disregard and disrespect to the belief that 'Architecture is the mother of all arts.'" "The idea that Architecture is undervalued comes from a lack of public awareness about what an Architect actually gives them. This I fault the AIA for," quipped an unapologetic Zach Hicks.   Be that as it may, Michael Curtis left us with a simple truth: "Was Michelangelo licensed? Bernini?" Is the AIA "fight(ing) any effort to minimize the requirements for professional licensure in architecture?" Have your say in the comments.