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by Any Other Name1
Several years ago when Bill Gates, chair of Microsoft,
relinquished his title as chief executive officer, he appointed
himself chief software architect instead. Since then, several
industries have adopted the term architect. If youíre in the
insurance industry, you can call yourself a workforce architect.
If youíre in the electronic industry, you can be a software
architect or a systems architect.
IS THIS CORRECT USE OF THE TERM ARCHITECT?
Although many AIA members have inquired about the cast of new
uses for the term architect, and expressed their displeasure of
it, there is no official AIA policy for the usage outside the
construction industry. The term architect is a generic one and
AIA does not own the rights to it.
In the profession of architecture, though, you cannot call
yourself an architect or provide architecture services unless
you are licensed. All states, the District of Columbia, and four
U.S. territories (Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto
Rico, and the
Virgin Islands) require individuals to be licensed (registered)
before they may call themselves architects or contract to
provide architecture services.
To become licensed, an individual must have been awarded a
professional degree in architecture, completed practical
training or an internship, and passed all divisions of the
Architect Registration Examination. Until all the requirements
for licensure are fulfilled, architecture professionals are
known as interns. Interns gain supervised architecture
experience while working under licensed architects. Upon receipt
of licensure, it is expected that licensed architects will
protect the public health, safety, and welfare and take legal
responsibility for their work.
Although there is no national agency with oversight for
architect licensure, each state and U.S. territory has its own
architectural registration board that sets standards for
architectural registration and the practice of architecture. All
architecture firms and individual architects who employ
additional architects must register with their state
architectural registration board.
Can recent architecture graduates, then, promote themselves as
architects? Or, can licensed contractors provide architectural
design services? No, not if they are not licensed architects.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
If you encounter an individual or a firm in the construction
industry misusing the term Architect, you should notify your
local AIA component office. While the AIA cannot investigate and
prosecute individuals who misrepresent themselves as architects,
AIA local component offices work in conjunction with state
architectural registration boards to protect the term architect.
The offending individual or firm will be asked to cease and
assist the illegal use of the term. If the individual or firm
refuses to stop using the term, the state architectural
registration board can initiate legal actions against the
individual or firm.
If in doubt, please contact your local AIA component office or
state architectural registration board.
You have a
vision of what you want. Now you need to make that vision a
reality. Here's how an architect can help you:
see the big picture.
are specially educated to help you define what you want to
build, present options you might never have considered, and
help you get the most for your valuable investment. They don't
just design four walls and a roof -- they create total
environments, both interiors and exteriors, that are
functional and exciting places in which to work and live.
solve problems creatively.
are trained problem solvers. Need more room for your growing
family? Architects can show you how to enlarge your home so
you won't have to move. Have a limited budget? Architects can
propose ways to get more for your investment than you imagined
help you get the most from your construction dollar.
can reduce building costs, decrease your home's energy needs,
and increase its future resale value through good design.
make your life easier.
Building is a
long process that is often messy and disruptive, particularly if
you're living in the space while it's under construction. Your
architect represents you, not the contractors. Your architect
looks out for your interests and smoothes the process, helps
find qualified construction contractors, and visits the worksite
to help protect you against work that's not according to plan.
Speak with an architect who is a member of The American
Institute of Architects (AIA) at the earliest stage of the
Why an AIA
Like doctors and
lawyers, architects are licensed professionals. The title
"Architect" may be used only by an individual who possesses a
state license to practice architecture. They are the only
professionals in the construction industry who are ethically
bound to represent you, the building owner.
qualifications generally include:
degree from an accredited school of architecture, requiring
five or more years of professional studies
of internship under the supervision of licensed architects
Passage of a
rigorous five-day examination
professionals, who have fulfilled these requirements, or other
requirements as stipulated by each individual state, may legally
call themselves architects and practice architecture in the
jurisdiction granting the license. Individuals may be
registered, or licensed, in more than one state by means of
reciprocal licensing agreements among the states.
Get the real
thing -- Look for the "AIA" designation.
Look for the AIA
initials after the name of any architect you consider for your
project. AIA architects remain current with professional
standards through continuing education and subscribe to a code
of ethics and professional conduct that assure clients, the
public and colleagues of their dedication to high standards in
At the heart of
every successful project is a strong relationship between client
and architect. AIA architects know that the more knowledgeable
their clients are, the more likely they are to fully participate
in the process and enjoy the benefits of a collaborative effort.
Right Architect in Nine Easy Steps1
Every architect has an individual style, approach to
construction, and method of work. For homeowners who wish to
retain an architect to design a new home or renovate an existing
one, it is important to seek out an architect whose style and
working methods are compatible with the scale and type of
project and the clientís needs. Follow these nine general steps
to find the right architect for you.
MATCH THE ARCHITECT TO THE PROJECT
1) Make a
list. Ask your neighbors or the owners of architect-designed new
homes or renovated homes in your community for the names of
architects who provide services in your area. Because the
relationship between a homeowner and an architect is such a
personal one, most residential clients and architects find each
other through personal referrals. The AIA Architect Finder, an
online tool accessible to the public through the www.aia.org Web
site, also can generate a list of architects within a designated
radius of your ZIP code (up to 50 miles) that specialize in the
building type that matches your project.
2) Research. Contact your local component of the American
Institute of Architects. Many local AIA components maintain
lists of AIA-member firms who specialize in different types of
work. Some components maintain member portfolios that are
available to prospective clients for review during business
hours. This is a great way to become acquainted with the
architects who work in your area before contacting them
directly. Many firms, even small ones, have Web sites that
feature their work.
3) Check credentials. Although architects in the United
States are not required to be members of the AIA, determine
whether the architects on your list are AIA members. Membership
in the AIA means that the architect subscribes to the AIA Code
of Ethics, complies with the AIAís rigorous continuing education
requirements, and has access to a variety of professional and
technical resources, and is committed to high standards of
practice and service.
4) Conduct phone interviews. Once you have conducted your
research and have developed a list of prospective architects,
call each firm on your list. Explain that you are interested in
procuring architectural design services, and ask to schedule a
brief phone interview with the firm principal. If you were
referred by a previous client, be sure to share this
information. During the phone interview, describe your project
and ask if the firm is available to accomplish it within your
desired time frame. You need to request for a literature
outlining of the firmís qualifications and experience. If the
firm is unable to undertake your project, ask whether it can
recommend another firm.
5) Interview select firms. The phone interviews and
additional literature provided by the firm should help you
narrow the list of candidates. Interview the firms on your short
list, preferably at the firm offices. The interview allows you
to meet the people who will manage your project and to learn if
the chemistry is right; you may be working with them for a long
time. Some architects charge a small fee for initial interviews
or meetings, which often involve at least some professional
design advice. Inquire about such fees prior to the interview.
6) Ask questions. How busy is the firm? Does it have the
capacity to take on your project? Who in the firm will be
primarily responsible for your project?
What is the firmís design philosophy? What is the fee structure?
What is the firmís track record for performance completed on
time and within budget?
7) Inspect completed work. If possible, ask each firm to
show you at least one complete or substantially complete
8) Check references. Ask for references from both past
clients and contractors with whom the architect has worked, and
check them thoroughly. Ask the clients the same questions you
have asked the architect: Was the project completed on time and
within budget? Was the person primarily responsible for the
project the person who was introduced as such at the initial
meeting? Was the client satisfied with the completed project?
Was the client satisfied the architect again? Ask the
contractors whether the documents prepared by the architect were
sufficiently clear and detailed to enable the prepare accurate
cost estimates and complete the project in accordance with the
design intent, and whether the architect addressed issues during
the construction period promptly and thoroughly. Obtain an
Architectís Qualification Statement (AIA Document B431) from
your local AIA compo and ask each prospective architect to
complete it and return it to you. This standardized form may be
used to verify and compare an architectís credentials and other
information prior to making a final selection.
9) Make the professional service, not a product. The
right architect will be the one who has demonstrate your
satisfaction the judgment, technical expertise,
design talent and communication skills that suit you needs.
AIA. Appropriate use of the information provided is the
responsibility of the reader.