Before I go further, I would like to say “Thank You” for all of the responses that I received on my last blog post. First off, as you all must know that the most talked about piece was the differences between license and non-license in residential architecture. I need to stress that the main point of the blog was that “all” design professionals are in this predicament together. It was not meant for the topic to become the usual “license vs. non-license issue”. So before I can release “Part 2”, I needed to at least comment on this subtext.
Changing technology is the driving force
There are more licensed architects than non-license; in the field of commercial architecture. As it should be. The years of school, apprenticeships and testing are not only admirable, but necessary. However, the real threat is coming from – “changing technology”. Consider this one: outsourcing from other countries, these industries are selling professional design services at a substantial lower rate. By getting a licensed professional to modify their plans and seal them; will save them outside industry design fees rather than going the traditional route (a number of licensed architects outsource their work oversees to save money too…).
In the field of residential architecture, non-licensed outnumbers licensed by a large margin. Due to the exemption clauses in every state, there are more non-licensed designers in residential design. Think about it, we have various types of designers, from kitchens designers to professional residential designers (and everything in between). That is a lot of titles. Even some of the non-licensed professional organizations discuss protecting the field of residential designers from “cad operators”. Just like the AIA who is trying to protect its members from non-licensed designers. Because of the distractions going on in our industry, other industries are dictating terms in our profession.
No matter the numbers of us design professionals, we are still outnumbered ten to one vs. the outside industries.
The Frank Lloyd Wright debate…
In various forums, there were topics about what to do about non-licensed designers becoming architects. One of the greatest was Frank Lloyd Wright. As most of us know, he was not licensed to practice architecture. However most of us do not know that the field of “architecture” in those days was very different from it is today. For an interesting read, go to the AIA history website (http://www.aia.org/about/history/AIAB028819) and you will notice that it took the organization over 50 years to develop licensing laws. For those licensed architects, who keep saying that the current path to get a license cannot or should not be changed, just look at your history. Changes happen all the time.
Now let us take additional look at another threat from – “changing technology” – residential architects no longer are considered – Professionals (as from the other industries and public perspective). Architects consider themselves as professionals, like doctors, lawyers, etc… Maybe that works for commercial architects, but because of outside influences, residential architects are considered not to be professionals. I know most of you blame non-licensed designers for that, but the real culprits are – outside industries. For example, when submitting plans to the permit department, the builder will go to the client and say to them that they do not need to submit 10 sheets of details to build their home. The client comes to you saying what the builder told them. The permit department will back up the builder, due to cost issues (i.e. the designer is over charging you for the unnecessary work of 10 sheets of detail). Who do you think the client will believe?
Lastly, just remember the original premise of this thread was to alert our industry of the possible threat on the horizon and why as a “design community”, should address it. The issue of who is licensed and who is not is really a minor issue, because if we do not get our name back, it will not matter, in the long run. Somebody else will own it.
Part 2 is coming very soon…