http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x22D0po1h5Y&feature=player_embedded Hopefully this will keep the conversation going.
When I first joined the AIA in the early 1990's I was eager to be part of an organization that worked to promote Architects, first and foremost. I have, for the most part, been disappointed in this regard. For a long time, each time I paid the dues I was telling myself it was happening, but now, many years later, it hasn't happened.
The Architect and Architecture is struggling to survive. There is some great work being done, however there is far too much bad or no-design being promoted. Architects are quitting the profession and going to nearly anything else because their contribution to society is not valued as it should be. It should be the main focus of the AIA to promote this value head on.
While the AIA has promoted many issues that are noble, it has consistently gotten sidetracked on social issues and lost in the weeds of others that stem from personal political preferences - drifting wherever the current social trends take them. Those issues should be left to other organizations and architects left to join them separately as they choose. At best, the AIA has nibbled at the edges of promoting who we are as architects and how our service is essential to society.
And so, I can't shout loud enough my agreement with Mark Robin's comment: "the total legislative efforts of the AIA should be to pass the necessary legislation so than no construction in this country can be permitted without the services of an Architect."
This is long overdue to us as architects and to anyone who has any connection to the built environment. There needs to be a real change not just catharsis. AIA Leadership everywhere you are, I'm still paying dues are you listening?
First, greetings to Mark Robin, glad to hear you are still out and about.
With respect to legislating that buildings, including residential buildings be designed by architects, there are downsides to that and I don't support the idea.
When I see a problem, my reaction is never, "Let's pass a law, set up a board, establish a testing regimen to fix this!" 5 states already have license requirements for someone who shampoos someone else's hair. 7 states requires licenses for someone who does upholstery repair. Of 102 licensed occupations studied in a report from The Institute for Justice, only 15 were licensed in 40 states or more which means that either there is a lot of harm being done that could be prevented, or a lot of licensing is happening that is not vital---except that it is a source of state revenue and serves to protect the occupational opportunities of select classes of folks. Usually the excluded ones are from low income backgrounds.
Now maybe one could contend that as architects we have more opportunity to do good or harm. So, are we asking for homeowners to be required to hire licensed architects because of the havoc created by unlicensed designers and do-it-yourselfers, or because we'd like a special privilege, which has nothing to do with protecting society?
Or do we think that a license guarantees the best service? In my state all plumbers are required a licensed by the state. Are all those plumbers good plumbers? Top notch plumbers? Union plumbers are believed to have more rigorous training. They ought to be somewhat better for that, especially in the early years of their career. Should we require that all plumbing be done by union plumbers?
My state does also recognize that some structures require elevated skill, technical skill mainly. So, hospitals, schools, police stations and the like, must be engineered by licensed Structural Engineers. That is a higher standard than the more common Civil Engineer. Yet it is the Civil Engineers who manage the "structural" engineering of all other structures, that is most structures. If Structural Engineers are more capable, shouldn't all Civil Engineers be required to work under a Structural Engineer?
Some theoretical advantages are not vital, even before the offsetting disadvantages are considered.
There is also the issue of restraint of trade. If requiring all buildings be architect designed, in effect prices low cost designers out of the market, and AIA furthers this legislative effort, would AIA be open to the charge that it is engineering a floor under architectural fees? AIA got its wrist slapped pretty hard by the DOJ for attempting to keep fees above a certain level once before.
Leaders are not victims in need of protection. And how can we be so valuable to society if we clearly are working the system for our own benefit at the expense of others? We will benefit if our work is seen as beneficial and cost effective. The AIA can help with the messaging, but in the end each of us has to make the case if it can be made. I think for most architects, it can be made. Convincingly, but not in every instance. Take care, Donald
I agree with Mark Robin that the AIA (and every licensed Architect) should push for ALL buildings to require an Architect's stamp, please read my thoughts. I primarily work in and around Chicago where most every municipality requires stamped drawings and it is not seen as "extortion". These municipalities understand that a licensed professional who has been properly trained to review codes and structure is guaranteeing the building is safe and compliant to local codes. In addition they have insurance in case something ever happens. The City of Chicago now requires the Architect's certificate of insurance which I think is fantastic, I now bring my insurance certificate when I submit for permits in the suburbs and encourage them to make this a requirement (we should all do this). I believe the AIA should work with the insurance companies and make them aware that many areas in this country have homes or buildings that were designed and built by people without an Architect's license and may not be insured. I would ultimately hope they may increase premiums on buildings where this is the case, or decrease where an Architect stamp is in place. I believe they could be our greatest ally to encourage all municipalities to require both an Architect's stamp and insurance. It seems the profession has spent the last 30-40 years trying to shed the responsibility of stamping drawings so they don't get sued, I encourage the opposite. Please notice I have never mentioned "design", I work with many Designers who are extremely talented and I have great respect for them. I do not believe that just because someone has passed the Architect's exam that they are good designers. With this being said trying to sell Architect services on the "better design because I'm an Architect" principal alone is a tough sell especially when many Designers have proven they are better. However, I do believe that Designers should work in conjunction with Architects for the reasons stated above. I guarantee if we made this happen the occupation of Architects would be elevated.