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"if we can assume that revit and other technologies allow buildings to be drawn faster than ever before"


If we assume that Revit and other technologies allow for a reduction in the allotted time for the proper design of buildings, we are doing ourselves harm. Buildings are not getting any less complex, and there are more systems than ever to figure out. While Revit and other technologies assist in design, coordination, and documentation, the belief that they somehow speed up the time consuming process of building design will be fatal to our profession.


To be clear, I agree with your conclusion.


There is more to Architecture than building a box that doesn't leak. (If this wasn't what you were getting at, please elaborate)

Oct 2, 15 1:18 pm

Sneaky: "There is more to Architecture than building a box that doesn't leak."

True, but if that box does leak -- which happens all too often -- users and owners are not going to give any credibility whatsoever to our efforts at making 'architecture'.

Oct 2, 15 1:58 pm

Here’s what it takes to be a licensed architect – Pass the exam. Regardless if you’re the world’s greatest or the world’s worst the only “test” is the exam. If there wasn’t collusion with the educational system then why not just let people take the exam, if they are willing to cover the cost? Not saying that some do not need school, but for those who’ve “got-it” let them past “Go”.

Oct 2, 15 2:11 pm

I've never used revit for full construction documents, but it seems like it should be faster.  Not sure that it really is in practice.

I do think that we pretty much agree on where the value in architecture is.  There are enough problems in buildings with idiot contractors and not so great architects, the bar doesn't need to be any lower. 

I think the "why" is a pretty important question and someone with no knowledge of theory and history can't answer.  I can barely give a coherent answer most of the time as it is.

Oct 2, 15 2:11 pm

I have no problems with NCARB - I've only had good experiences when I've had to call, little to no wait time, knowledgeable people on the other end.  My only real complaint is the testing vignette software, which is due to be replaced soon. 

Not that I'm happy with the fees either

Oct 2, 15 2:15 pm

passing the exam isn't enough to become an architect in any jurisdiction i've worked in.  at least not that i know of.  the test is just one part of series of qualifications required.

the test doesn't test experience.

Oct 2, 15 2:16 pm

We have building codes to protect HSW. The current hurdles to licensure do little to guarantee (or even attempt to guarantee) they are followed. So why do the hurdles exist?

Oct 2, 15 2:27 pm

I was talking with a lawyer friend recently and we were comparing the process of getting our respective credentials. Apparently (correct me if I'm wrong here), the legal profession has no counterpart to NCARB. If you're licensed to practice law in State A, then getting reciprocal registration in State B is usually a very difficult process. Some states have reciprocity agreements with neighboring states, but the entire process sounds like an incredible pain in the ass and there's no real national standard. Between that scenario and NCARB, I'll take NCARB any day.

For the most part, I've found NCARB to be very responsive and easy to deal with, and all my score reports were posted within two weeks of my exam date. (And the fees didn't even bother me that much, since my employer reimbursed them all for me. This is a pretty standard benefit at most mid-sized and larger firms.)

This isn't to say the current licensing process for architects is infallible, but IMO the people who think architectural training should be dumbed down to the level of a trade school certification are the people who need to be kept from ever calling themselves architects.

Oct 2, 15 2:32 pm

Point is they don’t measure the schooling or experience to any proper degree to qualify one to do anything; one can drift through both and still get a license, the profession is full of “Drifters”.

The hard fact is that the market determines who does work.

The reality is today architects don’t do anything that would be dangerous, they subcontract out 2/3 of everything they are hired to do, and the other 1/3 gets checked at the permitting process. The bar is set too high to justify the investment, and it honestly isn’t protecting anybody.

Oct 2, 15 2:39 pm

If the tests are so important then passing them should be a requirement to graduate from an accredited university program, else why even accredit the programs? The tests should reflect the building codes of the state the university is in, be administered by the state and university together at minimum or no cost to the students. The NCARB need not be involved.

Oct 2, 15 2:41 pm

making it harder to get reciprocal (or 'comity' i think they say) registration would encourage more local work rather than national work, wouldn't it?

Oct 2, 15 2:47 pm

^Not that simple. I support reciprocity because you can stay put with your family and not have to drift around the country like a gypsy following work.

Oct 2, 15 3:09 pm

I'd back the engineering model - allow exams for 'general education in the field' after graduation (the FE exam) to make sure your school did indeed cover everything; then one fell swoop of everything you need to know at a minimum to practice (isn't this what they used to do?).  Breaking it into these itty-bitty pieced makes it so much easier to cram to pass... A profession polices it's own, something I like about them - we call out the ones who fail and have a responsibility to each other and to the public to make sure incompetence is eliminated.

As for law and medicine they also have stages of examination and oversight.  If anything the IDP hour log is ridiculous - we're basically saying that we don't have enough integrity for the recommendation of our fellow licensed peers to carry enough weight.

Reciprocity is dependent on states for some professions.   For lawyers, laws vary state to state - due to the establishment from colonial times; hence the tough reciprocity, but it's not that difficult if laws are similar and you have some experience. (and I'm pretty certain every one of my friends from law school took the bar the summer after graduating - it was part of the requirement for employment for a bunch of them going into private sector)

To some extent I think the process of licensure weeds out the people who ought not be handling some of the paperwork that is a core part of doing business in construction (contracts, insurance, code analysis).  Let's face it, there are a lot people who don't have the non-design skill set that is key part of running a project smoothly.

Oct 2, 15 3:59 pm

+++++ Carrera

Oct 2, 15 4:01 pm

3tk touched on my biggest issue with the licensing process - idp is, to me, about the stupidest idea ever.  It puts control of your future in the hands of your employer and ensures that fresh grads will serve as drones for a min. of 3 years, but likely much longer.  not that the economy is better I'm sure people can finish faster, but I found IDP to be much more difficult than the exams.  Had to leave 2 firms because I was never going to finish otherwise and I didn't want to cheat.

Oct 2, 15 4:40 pm

Extending 3tk’s last paragraph^.

In the late 70’s (that's 1970's) when I started out firms were led by a few licensed  guys and the rest were not, the majority never went to college and came out of high school trade schools, the ratio at my first office was 2 college grads out of 30. At my final practice our ratio was 30 out of 30. The problem with this latest ratio is unfulfilled expectations. In “the old days” the high school guys got the job done and didn’t expect a moon-shot. Today they all expect a moon-shot.

There simply are not 5,000 moon-shots available per year. There is no need for 5,000 people to get licensed every year, only a tiny few have the tenacity and talent that would require a license. The schools are to blame for this, blowing smoke under the guise of a moon-shot. Employers take blame too by promoting licensure in a firm environment that doesn’t require one.

At my first job we did massive factories with a team of 6 high school guys and a PM, who wasn’t even an architect, didn’t even go to college. Are factories better and safer today with college graduates?

I value education, but not “The System” that is in collusion with the “Gate Keepers” that together are blowing smoke for dollars. The tiny few largely don’t need school or a license as great architecture comes from the soul not a book.

It’s too late to turn the “system” around, so who cares how many get licensed. “They” created this mess and it’s simply your job to fly over or around the mess in any way you can. For those who see “danger” know that the market will control which ones actually need or use a license & a stamp, not "The System".& their "Gate Keepers".

Sorry to be long, not positive about the “5,000”.

Oct 3, 15 12:56 am

Making reciprocity more difficult would discourage regions from adopting national and international best practices.  The absolute last thing we want is for the building industry to become more xenophobic.  Of course we need to understand local rules and regs and strengths of local trades, but global knowledge is incredibly useful and helps push things forward.

Oct 3, 15 9:27 am

Extending Carrera's last paragraph ... the market does not necessarily reward competence, quality, professionalism, etc. Those things will help you be happy in your endeavors (and miserable too!) but they won't assure financial success and in fact may likely be detrimental to it. It's all just part of life in upside-down society, lots of illusions here. 

Oct 3, 15 10:11 am

Our society has substituted credentialism for professionalism and is blind to the difference.

Oct 3, 15 10:52 am

There's a lot of surface appeal to the ideas of "let the free market work" and "eliminate the gatekeepers".  However, one must remember the sorts of consequences that arise when regulation is eviscerated and the free market is allowed to flourish unchecked. It's not always the nirvana that some posters here might imagine.

For example, I live in a part of the country where mineral extraction has been a major driver of the local economy for a very long time.  The mining interests and large landowners - who are the primary economic beneficiaries of this mineral extraction - totally dominate local politics and spend enormous sums lobbying the Congress to "eliminate unreasonable and unnecessary regulation" and to "let the free market work".

As a result, these good folks have been allowed to rape our landscape, endanger mine workers, and - when the minerals are all gone - file for bankruptcy in order to avoid their reclamation obligations. The rank-and-file population around here now believes absolutely nothing that comes from the mouths of these people and fight them strenuously at every opportunity. And, the US taxpayer is picking up the bill for the numerous 'Superfund' sites that litter our landscape.

While I absolutely understand the differences between the mining industry and our profession, at some basic level one must be cautious about unintended consequences arising when phrases like "let the free market work" and "eliminate the gatekeepers" move from just being slogans to reality.

Oct 3, 15 1:11 pm


Did you phrase that right? I'm not sure.

Oct 3, 15 1:36 pm

I agree 100% with file. The gatekeepers exist for good reasons.

That said, I would support a two-tiered system that, in addition to registered architects, adds "Architectural Technician" or a title to that effect, similar to a paralegal or Physician's Assistant, with only a 4-year undergrad degree requirement (such as the current pre-professional degree) and/or equivalent experience, and maybe a single-part exam with a focus on construction documentation and project delivery. It would provide a valid credential for those content to not pursue architectural registration, but without precluding it in the future if a candidate chooses to go that route.

Oct 3, 15 5:43 pm
Shuellmi, when you wrote "If instituted, I think we'd find out real fast how valuable the rest of the world thinks those classes are." Did you mean the public would actually wake up to the value of design in conjunction with the value of technical competence?
Oct 3, 15 9:48 pm

Volunteer – I agree it’s like zoning boards regulating good urban design with square footage and setback requirements.

File & David – Using the words “free market” is like the words “mass transit”, both nonstarters…but to my point and to expand my last paragraph, “they” have created a system with a single track, with no alternatives or exits and one size does not fit all. As David suggests there should be alternatives and methods for shorter tracks. Not suggesting eliminating gatekeepers in society, just that “they” need to lighten up the career path requirements for jobs that pay less than an autoworker.

Oct 3, 15 10:24 pm

Sorry, Carrera ... but blaming "them" or "they" for this mess is a major cop out -- much like citing our current political environment as the reason many people don't vote.

We're all members of this profession, whether we're active participants or mere bystanders. "We" are responsible for this mess, even if one's personal role is apathy or inaction.

Oct 3, 15 11:07 pm

one liners from Stanley Tigerman at today's lecture on Postmodern Preservation:

"I don't give a fuck about New York"

when asked to explain his collage of Crown Hall sinking into Lake Michigan ... "No"

Moderator: "I dont know where we'd be in architecture without the voices of Stern, Gehry and others from that time"

Stanley: "We'd probably be a lot better off"

Oct 4, 15 1:15 am

Tigerman is one of those people who makes me glad I no longer live in Chicago. But then, I had the misfortune of starting my undergrad degree at UIC just after he had been fired for running the program into the ground, so I might be biased.

Oct 4, 15 2:02 am

We need a youtube video of this.

Oct 4, 15 2:37 am

I dont know where we'd be in architecture without the voices of Stern, Gehry and others from that time

This is a nonsensical comment. I don't know where I'd be if I decided to go to Columbia, or to marry my first boyfriend, or to run for mayor eight years ago. I didn't do any of those things, or any of an infinity of other things. There's no way of saying what would have happened if I had done anything else at all.

The question could have been "What voices do you think might have come to the forefront if Gehry and Stern hadn't?"  Tigerman probably knows some folks from back then who seemed poise to ascend but didn't. We all do, from our own pasts.

Oct 4, 15 5:13 pm
Olaf Design Ninja_

"No" should be standard response to most questions....

Oct 4, 15 5:28 pm

I dont know where we'd be in architecture without the voices of Stern, Gehry and others from that time

Probably exactly where we are now.

My buildings are all on budget.
    -- Frank Gehry

If only cats grew into kittens.
    -- Robert A. M. Stern

Oct 4, 15 7:16 pm
Olaf Design Ninja_


Oct 4, 15 7:41 pm

"That said, I would support a two-tiered system that, in addition to registered architects, adds "Architectural Technician" or a title to that effect, similar to a paralegal or Physician's Assistant,..."

I am sure Tadao Ando and John Pawson will be overjoyed to earn they can become "Architectural Technicians"  Maybe they will go back to school and learn to be architects. Can you imagine being their studio teacher and having them both in your classroom?

Oct 5, 15 8:26 am
Olaf Design Ninja_

Ando, Ando.....stop using concrete. did you read the studio brief? glass curtain walls as tree house facades in the jungle 300 years ago to be inhabited by natives of same time period. no concrete or i will have to fail you Ando and you will never get a license!!!! muhahaha

Oct 5, 15 8:30 am

I hate to burst your bubble, but the vast majority of people in this business aren't Tadao Ando or John Pawson.

Oct 5, 15 12:58 pm

But they aren't in the business because they are not architects, right?

Oct 5, 15 1:37 pm

The absolute last thing we want is for the building industry to become more xenophobic.

As in, we are xenophobic enough as it is. proof abounds. 

Oct 5, 15 2:02 pm


architecture has been forced into a "profession." Maybe because of some suit and tie envy...Maybe because some lame ones needed to feel special...Architects are not even remotely like doctors...It is a ridiculous comparison...And if you aspire to be more like lawyers so that mom can feel proud then you are on the wrong path...

Oct 5, 15 4:12 pm


im going to this tonight

there will be blood

Oct 5, 15 5:25 pm

Live blog, ivorykeyboard!!! Live blog!!! You can do it right here on TC!

Oct 5, 15 6:23 pm

Don't forget your hip waders. On second thought better make that chest waders.

Oct 5, 15 7:31 pm


"On February 23, 1857, 13 architects met in Richard Upjohn's office to form what would become the American Institute of Architects. ...... The group sought to create an architecture organization that would "promote the scientific and practical perfection of its members" and "elevate the standing of the profession."

Until this point, anyone who wished to call him-or herself an architect could do so. This included masons, carpenters, bricklayers, and other members of the building trades. No schools of architecture or architectural licensing laws existed to shape the calling."

Not sure I see any "force" being applied at all ... looks to me like an internally generated effort to raise standards.

Oct 5, 15 9:42 pm

Actually, it wasn't until late 1890s and later jla-x. Depending on when Architect title law was enacted in any particular state. Prior to any such law adoption, anyone can use the title and they used it to describe the work they were doing at that moment. If they were doing a engineering role on a project, they used an Engineer title. If their role was Architect and they were doing the work of architectural design then they used that title. If they were doing masonry, they used the title mason. They used titles based on what the titles mean. It was simply, that simple and straight forward.

Sometimes a person held multiple roles and they used each title accordingly.


It was kind of forced because AIA didn't represent the whole profession and never did. They did force these laws by pushing their bills that they wrote up and did so without the public at large even being aware of the laws being passed. Public was not provided public notifications. They sure the heck probably didn't comply with anything remotely of open meeting laws and regulations. There is even probably bribery. It wasn't uncommon in those days. The mafia mobs were doing it all the time.

It is hard to say if the AIA was much better than a mafia mob (back in those days).

I don't see 'force' in the quotation if jla-x.

That's the past and we're stuck with the deeds of those people back then. You have to keep in mind there is a long story behind the whole ordeal that lead up to the licensings laws enactment which I think is probably beyond the scope we want to debate, here.

It will be a just a bunch of guys here (and perhaps so gals) in a circle debating our opinions about this topic to the Nth time which no one is willing to doing anything about it, anyway. Easier to bitch than do something.... isn't it.

Oct 5, 15 10:20 pm

"Easier to bitch than do something.... isn't it."

- Richard W.C. Balkins, Professional College Dropout

Oct 5, 15 10:36 pm


I'm working towards wrapping up the historic preservation degree at the community college. A class or two at a time as needed since I am here and it can serve me better at this time. Eventually the last group of courses in the Bachelors degree. Where I am, the best marketable knowledge and skills is in historic preservation / building design-CAD not necessarily Geography. Completing the geography degree is on the goal so I would be in a position to pursue a Masters of Architecture if I so choose to.

Oct 5, 15 10:49 pm

Wrapping it up? Can't you test out of it? It's all intro-to-this, basic-that....

Oct 5, 15 11:28 pm

Some of it is possible. Some things aren't necessarily substitutible or exam out of, necessarily. For what little is left like a directed projects in historic preservation (in Spring), CWE which I got funding of sorts to take care of the tuition & fees for it. Therefore, I am enrolled in it, this term. It isn't necessarily something I can exactly just 'test' out of.

The Intro to historic preservation class which wasn't originally required but now can possibly be substituted by a workshop class. I can decide about how I may want to go about that. Then there is the directed projects for historic preservation. Directed projects for CAD can't be used or substituted for the historic preservation from what I recall. Doing the CWE and the directed projects is part P.R. for me anyway and getting out there and building up connections.

In addition, it secures at least 1-yr of experience evaluation in California. 

In other words, there's genius behind the madness. 

The bachelor's degree in Geography at this time doesn't do anything to speed up the path.

Oct 6, 15 12:03 am

"Where did you go to school?" How many times have we all heard that? If school is all you can point to you've got a hell of a problem. Don't ask me where I started, ask me where I finished.

Oct 6, 15 12:03 am

My notes certainly don't do the debate justice - but here is what I was able to derive from my shorthand. I really wish I was able to live tweet this or something (sorry donna)

The format was essentially a 20 minute intro by each speaker, and two rather lengthy debates (it was a four hour event - Eisenman was catching some zzz's by the end). I'll start with general one-liners and zingers, followed by a brief summary of each attending member. As you may tell, a majority of the time was spent containing Patrik's energy.


Patrik Schumacher

"Next to nothing is relevant in the Chicago Biennial to contemporary architecture"

"there is a singular way forward that is parametricism, and we must reject pluralism"

"the days of iconoclast mavericks are over (glance over to Eisenman)"

"[the status of the city] is menacing visual chaos, and nothing but garbage"

As someone who is actually fairly well versed in computational design, I have still found much of Patrik's polemics to be distracting to constructive discourse with algorithmic design. His essential thesis statement - narrated in a much more verbose manner - was that we must all unite behind parametricism as the primary zeitgeist. I have never heard such a fluidity in extreme jargon, to the point where someone in the audience yelled to the others "give up! you'll never convince him!" 

Peter Eisenman

"I can agree to disagree with everything he [Patrik] says"

"I am primarily interested in the metaphysical experience"

(in response to Patrik) "we must reject the rejection of pluralism"

"architecture is one of the few professions that deny its heroes"

"I watch these people in my office move their computer models around, and I wonder what the hell they're doing"

This is my second time hearing Eisenman speak and he is very consistent... a typical introduction to his epiphany experienced with the Casa del Fascio at Como. He spoke of a need of less starchitects - the glitzy, beautiful renderings, glamorous projects, delivering fanastic products to their clients, and of more hero architects - the FLW, Louis Kahns and Bob Venturis of design. "we are trapped in a culture of stars, the media needs a new star every day"

Jeffrey Kipnis

"It's a perfect snapshot of the moment" (on the Chicago Biennial... in particular its pluralistic, and seemingly chaotic nature"

"No one here thinks your [Patrik's] buildings function in a contextual manner"

"Architecture's most important role is to seduce you into submission"

in discussing contextual architecture: "the contextual apparatus is it's own undoing" - speaking of the constantly shifting contextual environments in urbanity

at one point there was a claim that Chipperfield was boring by Patrik. somehow it produced this hilarious tangent: "Chipperfield is a nice guy... a drunk...."

"Don't be persuaded by [Reiner's] cheap geometric tricks"

I feel that Kipnis succeeded the best of culturally synthesizing the essence of the times in his 20 min intro, although he became unnecessarily aggressive with the audience questions at times (In response to why no women were represented in the panel - "you have no idea what you're talking about,"). He was quick to engage Patrik, claiming that acquired/practical knowledge is more valuable to architecture than the scientific assurance of algorithmic based design. He started with this video from fiddler on the roof... (he played from 1:45 to like 2:10) Patrik is the student from Kiev, Kipnis the taller guy with the hat, and Eisenman the shorter jewish fellow.

He presented a fantastic analogy of architecture being at the same state of the Cambrian explosion - the exponential increase in taxonomic diversity 554 million years ago. This was in response to exorbitant resources, extensive economic resources in the ocean, and new evolutionary systems (technology, essentially). He states that the period between 1990-present is similarly endowed. Yet, this does not mean a perceived chaos, that needs to be "cleansed" like Patrik states... he opened up the following website (which I highly recommend!)

Which is a interactive map of every musical genre and sub-sub-genre. What we perceive as chaos is just a system of complexity beyond our comprehension. H

Theodore Spyropoulos

Director at the AA, ideologically somewhat aligned with Patrik but in a much more composed and less bombastic manner. He didn't engage in much of the bravado of the other folks here, so I didn't have any quotes. Much of his work seemed to be derived from typical DRL content - robots, swiggly things, and parametric influenced work. He didn't speak as much as the others....

Reinier de Graaf

"Dubai has become violence towards the eyes"

"The boring acquires the status of the sublime"

"we use corners in abundance. If parametricism has its ways, there will be no corners"

Reiner started with a commentary derived from Thomas Piketty's book "Capital," in which we are again arriving at a paradigm shift -- or reshift -- back into a system where capital produces more value in our society than labor. More notes in a bit on him... maybe...

Oct 6, 15 12:33 am

In conclusion, there was blood.

Oct 6, 15 12:35 am

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