Minneapolis architect John Dwyer is the latest on a growing list of educators hoping to streamline the path from architecture student to practicing designer—an odyssey of classes, vocational training, and rigorous licensing requirements that can top the time it takes to become a medical specialist. As head of the architecture department at Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis, Dwyer is offering a program designed to qualify architects in five years. The Bachelor of Architecture program is not yet accredited, but already has 55 enrolled students, according to a spokeswoman for Dwyer. (Dunwoody itself is accredited, but the program is a candidate expecting approval for degrees starting 2019.) Dunwoody also offers technical training and associate degrees, including a welding program in Winsted, Minnesota. Their architecture program prioritizes “hands-on, real-world experience” and mentorships with working designers. Students pursue an Associate in Applied Science Degree in the first two years, earning a Bachelor's three years later. The move to fast track architectural education and practice follows similar efforts at larger institutions, including the University of Minnesota. Last year the College of Design at the University of Minnesota announced a new, one-year MS-RP program that aims to help B.Arch or M.Arch graduates achieve licensure within six months of graduation. They cited a study from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) showing the average time from graduation to completion of the mandatory Intern Development Program (IDP) is 6.4 years, plus another 2 years to complete the exams and actually receive a license to practice.
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And there it is, after months in negative territory the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) jumped into positive territory in May with a score 52.6—that’s up from 49.6 in April. Any score over 50 signals an increase in billings. The new projects inquiry also jumped from 59.1 to 63.2. Rounding out the positive news is the AIA’s new design contracts indicator, which posted a 52.5. Nice job by all. By region, the strongest gains were in the South (58.1) and the Midwest (51.3). The Northeast (47.6) and West (46.9) had a rougher month. And by sector, the breakouts were multi-family residential (58.2), commercial/industrial (53.6), and mixed practice (50.4). Institutional was one the other side of the ledger with a 47.3. “Volatility continues to be the watchword in the design and construction markets, with firms in some regions of the country, and serving some sectors of the industry, reporting strong growth, while others are indicating continued weakness,” AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker said in a statement. “However, overall, it appears that activity has recovered from the winter slump, and design professions should see more positive than negative numbers in the coming months.” In other data news, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) released a statistical report this week that found the "median age of people at initial licensure is the lowest in 10 years." Essentially, architects are getting licensed earlier in life—the median age for licensure is currently 34. The board also found "an increase since 2011 in the number of women applying for NCARB Records. The percentage of women applying continues to hold around 40 percent—a marked increase from 10 percent in the early 1990s.