The hijacking of the profession called “architecture”…

Part 1 – Why can I not use the term “architect” but an IT person can?

From the “ web site”

Look up the term “architect” on and here what you find…Click on “Narrow search” and you will find 110 IT entries that is using the term, out of 55 design topics, none of them was in the field of architecture. According to Wikipedia, the term “software architecture discipline” is centered on the idea of reducing complexity through abstraction and separation of concerns. To date there is still no agreement on the precise definition of the term “software architecture”. However, this does not mean that individuals do not have their own definition of what software architecture is. This leads to problems because many people are using the same terms to describe differing ideas. Why is that’s happening? Before I can give you reasons on why, let me tell you why this topic was created.

The IT industry is growing between 18 to 26 percent for all occupations through the year 2014 (from the United States Department of Labor). Licensed Architects in the US numbers around 106,000 (from the NCARB’s 2012 survey) but an IT professional numbers around 1.6 million (from the United States Department of Labor). Since the IT profession outnumbered Licensed Architects by a 15 to 1 ratios whom is going to win the “naming” war?

The reason is as a Residential Design Professional (not a licensed architect…) we are instructed by the powers to be to not to use any of the word or its derivatives or face the music with the legal system. But by letting others professional use the name, is dilution our design profession. So in order to get back our name (yes our name since I’m a residential design professional), all of us professionally has to put our differences aside and to take back our name. If we do nothing, then all of our lively hoods as design professionals would be even in more in jeopardy.

I know, I know, you do not believed me, so let me ask you this question:

Whose idea was it anyway for us to do “free design consultation”?

Part 2 coming next week.

Published by Walter L. Williams

I am a Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS) and I’m able to incorporating Universal Design and Green Technology principals into my residential designs. I am also a Certified Professional Building Designer and a HUD 203k Consultant. Specialties: Building Design, Residential Design, Universal Design, Aging in Place Specialist, Home Modification, Home Inspection, HUD 203k Consultant, Space Planning, CAD and Drafting.

8 thoughts on “The hijacking of the profession called “architecture”…

  1. Thank you for writing this. You couldn’t even LOOK FOR A JOB as an ARCHITECT or RESIDENTIAL DESIGNER if you wanted to anymore… I.T. has destroyed the word, and diluted the internet with the over-use of the word for anything they deem appropriate. You can’t search the word correctly, you can’t search for open positions, you can’t search for help with employees, consultants, etc.

    I.T. has made the word “Architecture” a mess, and in this technological age, it’s bothersome, disturbing, frustrating, and as someone who went to school for 16 years, did 8 years of apprenticeship, took 18 months to study for 9 exams totaling 36 hours (which I passed on the first try all 9 of them), just to legally use the word ARCHITECT – it ticks me off…

    Aaron D. Murphy, Architect/Owner of ADM Architecture
    Managing Editor of
    NAHB – CAPS “Certified Aging In Place Specialist”

  2. Hello Aaron:

    I understand your point of view. You gets it. This discussion is about the future of our profession. The unintended consequences of letting an outside industry controlling our name. For example, other industries has usurp our profession by offering design services for free. It would not be so bad if the quality of services was a sound value. Most are not.

    Even if we count the number of non licensed professionals, the ratio to a IT professional is still staggering. I believe that one of the things that is diluting our worth in doing architectural design.

    Lastly, let us at least recognize the threat that is on the horizon that is much bigger and that the fight is not being led by us.


    1. architects, interior designers, envelope specialists, exterior designers have we all gone mad.we have created a headache in all our industries. i respect the views and knowledge of architects but have some problems with people who are oicking out the paint flavor or tile color of the year. we can partially blamed the numerous programs aval on local t.v. channels. we are creating wknd warriors. i ride horses competitvely there are 3 disciplines in the equestrian field all the others are just style. same with this ongoing dilemna

  3. I don’t care about the millions of IT people who freely use the term “architect” compared to relatively few numbers of registered architects. I don’t care about the glitzy definition created by the IT world to define and mimic what we do as a passion – not necessarily as a profession. If we have a responsibility to the public and must carry a licence as well as liability insurance, then the AIA or any other licencing agency in the world should start a class action suit against the IT industry – maybe then we could get a reduction on our fees . It’s called infringement!

  4. Hijacking began by the media during the Reagan administration when it named David Stockman as the architect of the federal budget/Henry Kissinger as the architect of world peace etc. It now has Karl Rove as “the architect” ( of political expertise) . The true problem is the lack of respect for architecture as a talent, regardless of license. All talent must be encouraged to grow responsibility, but not to be misrepresented. Sadly, to earn a license in architecture is as costly & timely as that of Dr. /Lawyer/ CPA but is not financially supported by 3rd party providers. Instead it is offered by retailers as a free service if you buy products. A mature society should hold the design profession in high esteem, but we in the profession aid & abet in this dilema. I am licensed but not a fan of NCARB or our educational institutions. FLLW tried to handle the education problem by a traditional apprenticeship arts & crafts approach. This worked rather well but his dream has fallen prey to NCARB. After all an architect is simply a master builder and protector of the built environment.

    Curtis L Biggar/architect/CGP

  5. As a registered architect, I am really conflicted by this issue. At first I was appalled and personally offended at all of these misuses of the title “architect”. It seems to be getting more common. I was watching a football game and the analyst referred to the offensive coordinator as the “architect” of the teams offensive schemes. REALLY! On the other hand I find it a little flattering at the same time because I’m pretty sure people know the difference between a licensed designer of buildings and a guy that designs computer software and most people seem pretty impressed when I tell them I am an architect. Only now I have to explain that …”No really, I’m an architect”. Isn’t this the same as someone confusing a “car doctor” with a real M.D. I don’t think we should ignore this, but I do think that everyone in our profession should calmly explain the difference if people don’t know already. No other organization is going to do this for us.

  6. I am a building designer and to be generally honest, we actually need to give every person a real dictionary and may them write each word and the definition 100,000 times to burn that in their heads. People need a serious grasp of vocabulary and English language. Architect has meant and was a protected title before there was an IT field. They had been in violation for years. In fact, they were fined in the 1980s and early 90s but somehow, the boards stop issuing fines.

    In my opinion, we need to develop a job posting site which will only be for posting job positions of architectural firms and related field that is checked for related. No IT Architects or Enterprise Architects or other such non-sense not related to the designing of buildings. We need to make such a website so that IDP interns will be able to find jobs. This can be achieved because it would not be a “ site but possibly an AIA/AIBD plus some others – jointly working together to address jobs like this and that every architecture school, community colleges with CAD, Historic Preservation and related programs and firms and members of licensed Architecture profession and Building Designers including all AIBD members would be provided information of such site. Job postings would be submitted, (reviewed for proper categorization and posted in say 24-48 hours or something. )

    We need a setup that is more reliable and actively filters out the nonsense.

  7. If the state boards of architecture were doing their job by enforcing the use of the term “architect” as a job description we would not have this problem. I suggest that whenever you come across someone using “architect” on their business card and they are not licensed by the state as such in which they are employed, make a copy of the card and report them to the state board. If we started all doing this I think we would send a clear message to the tech industry that they cannot call an IT professional an architect. After all, do they call someone who repairs internet infrastructure a “doctor”? Uhhh, no!

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