Architectural Ellipsis

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    NCARB to AIA: "Nice Try ... but No"

    Everyday Architect
    Jul 19, '17 5:20 PM EST

    In the previous round of the Great Intern Title Debate (trademark should probably be pending), the AIA had issued a press release about their newly revised position statements. They had offered the Institute's support for two new titles to be used for those aspiring architects formerly known as interns: "architectural associate" and "design professional." Not to be overshadowed by the AIA, NCARB responded with a blog post in May (and subsequent update earlier today), concerning the legal restrictions of each of the NCARB member boards in using those titles.

    The post has an air of condescension as it points out that, "In 46 U.S. jurisdictions, the use of the term 'architectural associate' is prohibited, and in 26 jurisdictions, the term 'design professional' may be an issue." Further interpretation of the graphics NCARB provides shows that in no jurisdictions is the term "architectural associate" confirmed to be allowed, and only 7 have confirmed that "design professional" is not a violation of current statute or rule. It's as if NCARB is thumbing their nose at the AIA saying, "it's not as easy as it looks." If not that, it should at least serve as a record of why NCARB hasn't attempted to offer a replacement title for "intern." However, as I've pointed out before, the complexity of the task is a weak excuse considering the organization saying it's too complicated is the one that created it in the first place.

    (image source)

    (image source)

    The NCARB response also points to the ineptitude of the organization and the member boards. It took them nearly two months to post the response the first time, then another two months to update it in order to clarify the areas where each title is or is not allowed (the previous post showed only one graphic for both titles). Even then there are a lot of gray areas on the graphics indicating that NCARB doesn't know how those specific jurisdictions will interpret each title. Is that because those jurisdictions don't know whether the titles violates their own statutes or rules, or just that NCARB can't get anyone at those jurisdictions to return their calls? I would assume the former because a majority of those jurisdictions have confirmed on one title, but not the other. In either case, it doesn't look good.

    Perhaps the silver lining starting to materialize in this debate is that it should be painfully clear that neither of these organizations is willing to strike out and show their strength in leading the industry. It would seem that neither has the desire, nor power, to affect any real change when it comes to this title debate. I say this is a silver lining because it should make the decision of paying dues to the AIA, or of paying to maintain an NCARB Certificate, quite easy for recently minted architects ... if you care about making the pathway to licensure more dignified and inclusive, give your money to someone else.


    • nonlicensedintern

      Idea: Architect or Licensed Architect. Seems like an easy solution. Then could the professional organizations focus on something like why firms undercut each other or the lack of trust and engagement between parties in the construction

      Jul 20, 17 9:15 am  · 
      Non Sequitur

      No. I don't need to make my earned title longer and needing of an explanation. Don't have a license? Just call yourself a designer if you can't stomach the intern label. Weaklings.

      Jul 21, 17 4:18 pm  · 

      Disband NCARB

      imagine what architects could do if they weren't policed by corrupt technocrats. 

      Jul 20, 17 10:01 am  · 

      Such as? In my experience I'm far more limited by construction budgets than by any other factor in my professional career.

      Jul 20, 17 1:13 pm  · 

      Disband NCARB? Good luck.

      How the hell did we end up here in the first place? A few people in a professional organization (the AIA) decided to co-opt the process. While they may feel like they did it with the best of intentions, I think it's safe to say that the result is nothing to be proud of.

      Jul 21, 17 11:36 am  · 

      My Google-fu is strong today ... I found the original graphic NCARB posted, before yesterday's update where they made distinct graphics for each title. Comparison of old vs. new graphics shows that the information originally presented doesn't even match the recent update. Areas that were originally identified as ok to use either title, are now all unconfirmed (with the exception of Tennessee which would allow "design professional").

      Good job NCARB on updating it to make it clearer. Bad job on not calling attention to the update but hiding it in a blog post that is two months old and buried on the second page. Anyone that had seen the graphic below has already been misled, and you've made no substantive effort to call attention to the correct information, if we can even trust it is correct. There are still a lot of gray, unconfirmed areas in the current graphics, and if your information changed that much in two months ... can we really trust this new information?

      Jul 20, 17 12:32 pm  · 

      I suppose everyone here knows that NCARB is a consensus organization made up of representatives from its member jurisdictions. As such, it's asking a lot for that organization to issue a statement contrary to the policies of more than half of its members. 

      It's completely wrongheaded to even try to make this type of change at the level of NCARB. If any one cares enough to do anything about it, they should be lobbying their local jurisdictions to make the change at the state level. However, with internship advocacy generally, there seems to be very little interest by anyone impacted by these policies in investing any time in fixing it. If only a fraction of the people who complain about these nomenclature issues would spend even a minute to write or call their state boards this would have changed decades ago.

      Jul 21, 17 11:44 am  · 

      Janosh, why is it so wrongheaded to try and make this type of change at the level of NCARB? While on many things NCARB has historically been reactive to changes made by individual member boards on the state level, they seemed willing to assume the mantle on the intern title issue ... they have simply failed to take it far enough for me. I'd love to see NCARB finish it by simply changing the Legislative Guidelines and Model Law to remove "intern architect" and "architectural intern," and offer something to replace it. The first part of that is in line with what then President-Elect Dennis Ward initially announced would happen, the second part may be my pipe dream of NCARB trying to lead on this issue. The current political climate shows a lack of support for taking something away and not offering a replacement ... so I don't think I'm so alone in my viewpoint that if NCARB wants to take away the title "intern" they should come up with something to replace it. However undignified their replacement was, at the very least the AIA had realized there was a void that needed filling.

      Regardless, you're right that the real change will only come from the individual boards. However, I don't think anyone would disagree that following a change to the NCARB guidelines, the individual jurisdictions would be free to follow suit, or not. However, at the very least, with NCARB showing the change, anyone lobbying their local board would have a leg to stand on in advocating for a change to the jurisdiction's laws and regulations ... "Look, NCARB changed. Why are we still stuck in the past?" As things currently stand, any lobbying can easily be written off as simply complaining, and the board can point to legislation with a history of enforcement and NCARB's guidelines to back it up ... "Quiet down, there's no need to change anything if it isn't broken. Even NCARB still wants us to call aspiring architects interns, just look at the Legislative Guidelines and Model Law."

      If anything, changing the Legislative Guidelines and Model Law would show a willingness on the part of the member boards to make the same change to their own laws. Any change to the Legislative Guidelines and Model Law would need to be presented as a resolution at NCARB's Annual Business Meeting and voted on by the member boards. Yet so far, NCARB has seemed unwilling to do that in order to remove "intern architect" and "architectural intern" from the guidelines. In 2016 there wasn't a resolution presented to do it, and I haven't seen any press from NCARB about resolutions presented at the 2017 Annual Business Meeting held in Boston last month.

      Jul 21, 17 2:37 pm  · 

      Chris, I'm curious to hear your proposal...

      Jul 25, 17 11:48 am  · 

      its funny how insignificant ncarb is once you stop caring about this shit and just focus on designing stuff. 

      Jul 25, 17 5:10 pm  · 

      WWFLWD?  he would design another dope ass house...

      Jul 25, 17 5:12 pm  · 

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About this Blog

An ellipsis [...] is used to signal an omission, an unfinished thought, aposiopesis, or brief awkward silence. Architectural ellipses are those aspects of the profession we (perhaps intentionally) omit, gloss over, or let dwindle in silence. Generally applied this blog should encompass many aspects of the profession. Yet, as an intern architect (now architect) I'll focus primarily on the architectural ellipses that occur in the internship process (and beyond).

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