Can "famous architect" that have not attended college pass ARE exam?


Architects that have never gotten license from boards like Tadao Ando, Mario Botta, ... Do they have any chance to pass exams like ARE, even if they were 10 years old younger at the time they took the exam?

Do you know JK Rowling (author of Harry Potter) published a novel under a different name.
The book, which Rowling released under the pen name of Robert Galbraith,
apparently only sold 1,500 copies in hardback since its release — but
now it's already the top-selling book on Amazon in the US and the UK when people know JK Rowling is the author.

What I want to tell you is, if people evaluate these "famous architect" works without knowing their name, the results would be a surprise.
I think this field (architecture) is somehow like politics if you want to be at elite level. You have to graduate famous school, work with famous starchitects, lobbying, ...

I think licensed architects blindly admire those "famous architect" while their practical skill are the same or even better than those starchitects.

Jan 26, 20 12:50 am

Short answer: YES !!!!

Long Answer: YES..... If they so choose to study for the exam and pass those exams and have completed AXP and any experience requirement in lieu of a degree satisfactory of the licensing board of any particular state which has a path to licensure without a degree.

However, there is no reason they can't pass the exam. They may need to find some way to get authorization to test. There maybe reasons why some would not bother with it if someone with a license will be stamping the drawings. 

If they are famous and have a number of works they have prepared, they should be able to pass the exam.  It doesn't mean they will pass all divisions the first time. They may have to retake some divisions. 

This all depends on the individual. The more the famous architect is involved in preparation of drawings and other documents and is involved throughout ALL phases of projects.... the more likely. The more they are just involved in concept and others do all the real work.... maybe not so much. I am not saying all famous architects are the same.

Jan 26, 20 1:20 am

there is a glaring inconsistency in your argument, which acknowledges the achievement and recognition a few non-accredited architects receive based purely on their work, and then says this is impossible to achieve without the background these architects didn't have...

Jan 26, 20 11:00 am

I hope you are talking to the OP. I see the point you are making to the OP's argument. I don't see why they can't pass the ARE. The biggest challenge they will likely face isn't passing the exam but getting authorized to test so they can undergo the exam testing *IN SOME STATES*. Getting the IDP/AXP hours might be a challenge but not impossible.


yes i was responding to op


Simply put, it is not in the interest of their time to pass the exam. Thus, the FAIA designation. They operate in the echelons of the design world, capital D, where they are not expected to produce CDs and deal with the everyday work of architects. Rather, they lend their brand and style to projects.

Jan 27, 20 10:02 am
^are you saying FAIA is given to non-licensed individuals??
Jan 27, 20 11:37 am

My bad - I meant distinguished foreign architects who never took American exams


FAIA is not given to unlicensed people.  There are are FAIA's who are not licensed in the state in which they live and practice - but all are licensed in at least one US state.

"Hon. FAIA" can be awarded to foreign architects who are not licensed in the US, and to non-architects who have made a significant contribution t the field.

There are famous architects who have taken and passed the ARE - some before they became well-known and some after.  There are also those who will never bother.  And for all we know there are some who have tried and failed.  Passing the ARE doesn't seem particularly well correlated, negatively or positively, with fame, nor with ability.  

Jan 27, 20 11:47 am

For non-architects, it is called "Hon. AIA" not "Hon. FAIA" as far as I am aware of.


Those are two completely different things.
Honorary membership (Hon. AIA) is by a fairly simple nomination form. Honorary Fellowship (Hon. FAIA) goes through much the same rigamarole as for "regular" FAIA. Here's the slate from this past year - some of these people are not architects at all:


However, Honorary FAIA is usually have to be an architect in some country (U.S. or otherwise). What I am getting at is that NON-ARCHITECTS (not people who are licensed or practice architecture in another country) can only be an Hon. AIA member AS FAR AS I RECALL. I COULD be mistaken but that is my understanding. You maybe right about this Honorary FAIA as the practice may have changed. ("Distinguished architects who are not US residents and who do not primarily practice architecture within the US may be nominated for Honorary Fellowship."). 

Honorary AIA:

These people do NOT have to be architects. They can be lawyers, for example.


You are mistaken.  Again: the honorary FAIA's have not always actually been architects anywhere. If you want to prove this to your own satisfaction you can take the last decade or so of Hon. FAIA's, go through their backgrounds in detail, and you'll find a handful that are people who have made huge contributions to the field, but are not and never have been architects. Some have been academics, public figures, etc. with no specific architecture education, no significant body of built or design work, and no credentials that make them an architect anywhere. I know that the application's "objects" all seem to indicate that the applicant must be an architect - nonetheless people do go through the application process who aren't, and the jury has the ultimate say and has elevated some non-architects.  I would imagine this flexibility will only increase, as in recent years AIA has expressed intent to admit a much more diverse pool of Fellows.


Thank you for the clarity on it. One of "what is suppose to be" versus "what actually happens". Oh well. AIA not always following its own 'rules'.

If they are going to do this then they SHOULD amend the "rules" and the application "objects" and all.

atelier nobody

If you could be a rich and famous designer without ever taking on the liability of an AOR, why wouldn't you?

Jan 27, 20 4:08 pm

because by being the AOR, you get to stamp your stamp on w/e the hell you damn well please.

Non Sequitur

Gator, I’m sure your insurance provider has something to say about that.

atelier nobody

Starchitects get to put their names on "w/e the hell [they] damn please" a hell of a lot more than we plebeian architects ever do, regardless of whether or not they have stamps to go with their names. And I'm pretty confident no state board here in the US is going to try prosecuting Tadao Ando because the press calls him an architect.


This is the dream. You get paid a lot of money to draw pretty much whatever you want, someone else takes on the liability, and you get to choose if you have your name on it. Add in a cushy tenured academic job and you’re set.

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