Petition To Change The Regulation Of Architectural License It Is Time To Reconsider Architectural Licensing. by: Chris Stewart Preface: In the mid to late 19th century when our current system of architectural licensing took root America was a very different place than it is today. Primary education lacked consistency. A system of building codes and inspection was either rudimentary or wholly absent. Technical information was hard to obtain. Building technologies where rapidly changing. There was not a high degree of specialization. In that world, the architect was considered to be the only line of defence against unsafe building practices. Today all this has changed. Primary education is consistent. We have a highly evolved system of building codes and inspection in most of the country. Technical information is widely available. Modern buildings are created by a large group of specialized practitioners. The architect is just one of many people who contribute to the creation of the built environment. Our methods of architectural licensing need to evolve as well. It is time that we fully embrace scientific method and base our decisions on sound emperically tested reasoning.
We (the undersigned) feel that the current methods of architectural licensing are fundamentally unjust and represent an unreasonable infringement on our contitutionally given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We believe that individuals should be judged by their competence alone and by means of empirical testing -not through state mandated methods of training, subjective judgement, or other forms of arbitrary requirements which restrict freedom of thought, innovation and the free market to provide services or training. Let us be clear about this: We do not support the right of individuals to provide services which they are not competent to provide. We simply feel that all methods of training should be considered valid be they traditional university training, non traditional higher education, mentorship, self study or any other method. The only requirement being the empirical testing of ones ability to perform the services which they intend to provide. Our current system is not based on science. It is based on tradition, subjective reasoning, bias and self interests. It is time to end discrimination based on statistical averaging and bias. Every citizen of these United States deserves to be treated as an individual and measured by the quality of their character and competence and not by how they acquired those things. Furthermore we ask that this empirical testing be based solely on the actual demands of the tasks which are to be performed and only as regard the health, safety and welfare of the public and ones ability to provide competent architectural services. The intention being that these tests are not used as a method of limiting competition.
A further explaination of why change is needed: *The current system does not take into account individual performance. The current system produces the condition where an individuals opportunity to become registered is based more on their ability and or desire to finance arbitrary educational requirements and their ability to obtain IDP credits rather than their real ability to perform the work. *The current educational system stifles innovation and competition. It is becoming tremendously expensive for universities to build accredited degree programs. Because of this competition is reduced. The accreditation process itself is not based solely on outcome or the individuals and industries needs but rather that the programs contain a certain number of hours spent teaching various subjects. There is little to no incentive for universities to reduce costs or improve quality per credit hour. Because of this, the cost of obtaining a degree is rising faster than the median inflation rate. *The current Intern Development Program (IDP) is fundamentally flawed. There is no real measurement of performance in this system. It is strictly a measure of the employer and or individuals ability and or desire to self report what that employees training has been. The consequence is that it produces unneeded bureaucracy and unnecessarily limits the ability of the individual to meet the requirements to take the Architectural Registration Exam (ARE). *The current system unnecessarily raises the cost of architectural services. Because of these arbitrary training requirements the cost of providing architectural services is higher than it would otherwise be. We believe it is fair to conclude that the primary intent of current licensing requirements have more to do with limiting competition than increasing design quality.
*The current system places the state in the position of not just protecting the public's right to competent architectural services but that of protecting the profession of architecture for the sake of the profession. We believe that this is not the proper role of government. That government should not restrict the rights of individuals to practice architecture on any other grounds than their empirically measured ability to provide those services. Any restrictions should be strictly limited to the health , safety and welfare (HSW) of the public. If the current training methods used in architecture have any validity it should be because the public chooses that particular method and not because they are restricted from any other choice. *The current system is bias. Science tells us that if we can not empirically measure the difference between two things than there is no difference. If two people take the ARE exam (one having gone through the University and IDP system and the other being self taught) and they both achieve the same score, then there is no known practical difference between them as to their ability to competently provide architectural services. *Freedom of design aesthetics values is equivalent to freedom of religion. We feel that it is not the proper role of government to restrict the practice of architecture based on the subjective quality of aesthetic training. An individuals aesthetic values are their own beliefs and have nothing to do with protecting the health, safety and welfare of the public. If professional organizations such as the AIA want to impose standards other than those that have to do with HSW that is their right. We feel that aesthetic issues are better addressed at the community level. *Most residential design and some other building types are exempt from architectual licensing in most states within the USA with no documented adverse effect. We feel that this demonstrates that architectural licensing is not a key component in insuring the publics health, safety and welfare.
What would change as a result of this: * All adult individuals would be eligible to take the Architectural Registration Exam (ARE) *The ARE would be evaluated to insure that it is only testing for Health, Safety and Welfare issues and the ability of those who take it to provide competent architectural services. In conclusion: It is our hope that once fairness, sound reasoning and scientific method are brought to bear on the practice of architecture that we can begin to take a more wholistic approach to improving our built environment.