Twitter chat on IDP - Really?!?

Wednesday's #aiachat on Twitter focused on the Intern Development Program (IDP)—a subject of constant discussion at ARCHITECT. Firms have been rethinking IDP for years. Some people in the field think internship should take seven years. Some designers take considerably longer. Needless to say, people had a lot to say during the chat, which was hosted by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). Here's a roundup of some key points in the discussion. (Click through for more)

Is this really the future of how we are going to deal with hot-button topics like IDP? Twitter chats? Nothing reassures young interns more than seeing that NCARB is not only committed to discussing the future of IDP, but they're 140 characters committed. 

Sep 6, 13 12:40 am

what a waste of time.  like they don't know what the popular opinion on this stuff is from the millions of discussion forums about it?  someone got paid to do that?  i pay yearly fees for this?

idp:  3 years, no categories.  because anyone that wants to finish in a reasonable timeframe fudges them anyway.  did that one girl say she spent 7 years?  if your desire is to become licensed as soon as possible why would you do that? she would be someone that sits in on an ncarb twitter chat.  i'll be damned if i have to wait till i'm 30 to get a license.

are:  take them any time you want.  require school curriculums to teach the things that are actually on the test so you can do it fresh out of school.  if its a professional degree and you aren't even close to being able to pass the professional licensing exam there's something wrong.  other fields aren't like this.  could you imagine doing a law degree and having to learn 75% of the material for your exam on your own after you graduate?  naab and ncarb need to communicate and be consistent on this crap.

anyone that's passed the tests and has 3 years of experience should be good to go.  architect in training or architectural designer are fine by me.  intern is just embarrassing... i don't even use it.  i say i'm either an architect (non-architecture crowd) or designer at an architecture firm.

Sep 6, 13 1:22 am
Why would anyone suggest that internship *should* take seven years when one of the major concerns of the last decade has been why *does* it take so much longer than three?!
Sep 6, 13 7:48 am

twitter chats are great for aia.  that gives people a place to say stuff so they feel like they're being listened too.  pretty sure aia/ncarb/etc. don't really want to listen to those kids anyway, whether it's face-to-face communication, online forums, twitter, etc.  i bet twitter is the best place to ignore people while making those people feel like they're being listened and make people feel like their organizations give a shit.

Sep 6, 13 9:20 am

Here is a more complete record of the chat for those interested, More reading but it also shows that it wasn't just Guy Horton who held a dissenting opinion.

Sep 6, 13 1:32 pm

I think I found a way to change IDP. It's only going to cost $1,000

Sep 7, 13 11:37 am

I'm still not understanding. Now, NCARB, a bunch of idiots, granted. But the problem is not NCARB, let. me. repeat, it's not NCARB. NCARB will never, ever, never, ever care about you, or me for that matter. I'm licensed. If we want to change this shitty system, we have to go at each and every state board. Lobby the governors, they are likely the people in charge of appointing the respective state boards, and the state boards are what in my estimation empower NCARB. National Council of Architecture Registration Boards - all sorts of clues in the title as to where we need to effect change.

Sep 7, 13 1:13 pm

All, absolutely ALL, of the "questions" were an absolute waste of time. Memo to NCARB: Stop playing it "cool" you're not that hip, you're just square.

Sep 7, 13 1:58 pm
Isn't the head honcho of NCARB an engineer? 'splains a lot.
Sep 7, 13 10:00 pm

NCARB could be reduced to a shell.

Professional NAAB accredited degree (3 routes) + 3 years of experience on a state's form (no categories to chase after)

Non-accredited 4 year arch. degree + 7 years of experience on a state's form (no categories to chase after)

Take the exam any God damn time you want after graduating, or maybe after 1 year of experience on a state's own form.

Everyone else, get lost.

NCARB could design the examination, handle guidelines to get the states (and the provinces) on the same page, and do some minor regulatory stuff.  If everyone was on the same page, one could apply to other states DIRECTLY for a reciprocal license.  To architects, NCARB = make work.  To new grads, NCARB = bend over.

Sep 7, 13 11:07 pm

Why can't they just make the exams a prerequisite for graduating with a professional degree? They do it in France and many other countries in Europe... 

That way, if you don't want to go into the profession, all you have to do is opt for the 4 year route and save tuition! Everyone wins!

Sep 8, 13 12:40 pm


Ha, BB, I was thinking about this after posting.  They should just do away with the 5-year B.Arch.  That way everyone is channeled into a 4 year architecture curriculum.  Canada has done it. It solves a lot of problems.  First, the general clueless quandary that exists about a-schools, through no fault of prospective students, goes away.  Second, the 3 year M.Archs. often bolt onto 4 year models, and not 5 year models.  Third, the work load can crest in the 3rd year and then ease off in the 4th year, because it will just be studios and not a thesis or "meaningful" project, like my friend's underwater living compound in the Gulf of Mexico off Houston.  Fourth, the NAAB needs to get their ass in gear and give baseline benchmarks for the 4 year programs so they are NOT art schools (MINIMUM 6 design studios, 1 graphics, 1 theory,  2 history,  2 construction, 2 environ. tech., and 3 structures) so people could use them to go to function in the work world effectively.  Fifth, this could give students the opportunity to work on a minor in case they don't want to go on to a 2 year M.Arch. or do something else altogether.

All I can say to NCARB / NAAB is "k.i.s.s." - keep it simple, stupid.

Sep 8, 13 3:16 pm


What is wrong with making the A.R.E. a prerequisite to graduating with a professional degree? I only see positive things: 

1. You get the testing out of the way while you are still in school mode. 

2. You ensure that that the universities and the NAAB are doing their jobs. 

3. It re-establishes the meaning of "professional" in professional degrees. 

My proposal is that once you take the exams, you still have to have 'x' amount of years of work experience prior to getting a license. But once you have taken the exams, you can either opt to stay in the profession or not. At least you have them under your belt... 

So tell me- why not make the examination compulsory? 

Sep 8, 13 8:45 pm

Oh and last thing: 

Whether or not you are a B.Arch or M.Arch, I still contend that that currently, most universities turn you into a professional CRITIC rather than a professional ARCHITECT. 

Sep 8, 13 8:48 pm


That is not the case in any profession.  Where do you stick in the time to study for a grueling licensing exam (i.e. the bar) when you have enough on your plate trying to finish a grueling education?  That's why they're done after graduating.  Also, if everything went 4+2 or 4+3, it makes for an easier exit for the 4 year grad.  They may not want to license.  If they become a developer, a set designer, or a bureaucrat, what does one need to license for?  I'm for the set time period of internship, with no categories, like it was within the last 15 years in some jurisdictions, and letting people in to take the test after having at least a year on the job.  When a person works, there are many 40 to 45 hour weeks, so it's actually doable to study for the test.  It's not fun, but it's doable.

I disagree with the critic versus architect statement.  Some schools turn out people who go into a firm, turn the computer on, and go.  It depends on the school.  It depends on whether it was an architecture school or a design school.

Sep 8, 13 10:49 pm

Wait wait... I am not saying that you will be allowed to get a license after passing the exams... just that the exams are like the REGENTS in NYS, but for the Architectural Profession. If someone wants to get a license, they must still put in their time by going through an internship process... all I am proposing is that the "licensing exam" is an across the board tool to ensure that all schools teach the basics that an architect who goes through a professional program needs to know... If a graduate doesn't want the license, they obviously don't have to go through the internship process... Does that change your position?

Sep 8, 13 10:55 pm

I still don't agree.  Do you know anyone who has studied for the bar, the CPA, and/or the ARE?  Essentially, they are rehashing what they learned in school, that is, if the school taught them those things (I'm talking architecture, really, since there is more uniformity in those other curricula).  Those exams are spread out over days.  If the a-school was too low-tech, then they're not ready.  That's why I believe NAAB needs to lay down the law on what is being taught.  I don't think the 4 year grads need to be taking a Regent type exam.  Some of those people decided in year 3 that they were going to become lawyers, doctors, teachers, or general contractors.

Sep 8, 13 11:28 pm

You are completely ignoring my comment on the fact that this proposal I made is solely for professional defrees! Why bring up 4 year degrees? And yes this is unprescedented but what on earth does being low tech have anything to do with anything? Schools need to teach basic stuff regardless of how low tech they may be!

Sep 8, 13 11:41 pm

Still disagree, even if in the +2 or +3 programs which are accredited.  I look at my program and just don't see where they would have slotted it into the sequence.  Also, there was some stuff I learned in the office about roofs, drainage methods, and the needed thoroughness of building sections that could have been the difference between pass and fail on some of the design vignettes.  That 1.5 years of AutoCAD drafting day in and day out helped me understand how buildings went together better than when I left school, and my school was NOT flaky.

Parenthetically, I bring up 4 years because it should put people on the same page as they merge into a 2 year at any school.  Also, it should take the burden off the +2, so students can focus on meaningful design, assimilating theory, and include some type of capstones on structural choices, constructability, and detailing.  With that, there is still plenty of curricular space for many electives to go bohemian or techy.

Sep 8, 13 11:57 pm

i graduated from a professional degree, and i am in no way prepared to take the tests.  bulgar has a point-- if schools aren't teaching the stuff you need to know to BE a professional, then why is it a professional degree?  all i had in my 5th "professional" year (separating it from a bachelor of science) were some additional studios super heavy on the theory, and a little fluffier than usual.  we learned how to do research papers, cite sources-- all that stuff that architects will never ever do outside of a university thesis work setting.  all my structures courses were in undergrad, we didn't touched MEP at all, we lightly went over the owner/architect contract for a couple classes, and thats it.

in my opinion, the only thing a professional degree is good for is the name only.

so here i am playing catch up, trying to learn all this crap i thought i'd spent like 100k and half a decade to learn.  for me personally, i love structures, and how building go together fascinate me.  it was a big reason why i went into architecture.   i'm artistic and love to create things as well, so it was a win-win.  school ended up being very disappointing... practical classes were dumbed down a lot, and a lot of precedent related stuff crept into the curriculum.  i remember my materials and methods classes were more like "here are famous buildings made in different materials.  please identify the architect and the name of the building and the concept behind it."  the same thing happened with classes where we were supposed to learn HVAC and everything... sustainability totally hijacked it, and i ended up learning nothing except for a few poorly explained sustainability strategies since the professors were still kind of new to it, but apparently very excited about teaching it instead of the other course material.

i'm all for design education.  its a valuable skill that separates us from contractors and engineers, and its the core of what we do.  but i know a lot of schools are teaching it in lieu of the practical things that we ABSOLUTELY NEED TO KNOW, and that just doesn't make any sense to me. 

now maybe other schools do a better job than this, but i assume its more of the same.  my school just renewed its accreditation with NAAB, so clearly NAAB is looking for the wrong things.  

this is also why starting salary is so low:  nobody knows anything.  engineers fresh out of school are much more useful  --$20k more useful.

Sep 9, 13 1:24 am
Tinbeary There there

My suggestion for IDP, forget it and get a graduate degree in civil engineering and take the PE exam instead. = Less time AND better stamp (can design bridges too).

This was some advice given to me when I was 19, but I chose the architect route and chose to try to learn about building by getting a job sitting at a computer in an architecture office to do "IDP". Why was I in an Intern Development Program anyways, what was I doing?! Developing intern skills? Ha. Why the fuck wasn't I in a program to learn about Building? Can you tell I hate IDP?

Sep 15, 13 7:29 am
One problem with having the states administer the exam is that you'd probably end up having to retake the exam if you want recriprocity in another state. NCARB does make it easy in the back end...if expensive.
Sep 15, 13 7:53 am
Tinbeary There there

Comity is a legal term for reciprocity of a licensed professional in another a jurisdiction. Didn't need to reinvent it, thanks NCARB.

Sep 15, 13 8:06 am

People are not pissed because they have to do an internship.  It's sort of expected.  They're pissed that IDP is so uneven.  No one complained when the flat time system was the prevalent model.  You did your time and tested, or tested slightly before it was over.  Either way, between what you learned in school and what you learned on the job, the exam, with proper preparation, was very doable.  Yes, NCARB and the certificate, with dues and transmittal fees, also extract money from architects, some of whom have barely licensed and their earnings are not that high.  One should be able to apply directly to another state board for a license, and pay those costs, only if they need a license in that other state.  So, somebody could be humming along in NY, pay those fees, and then, 7 years later, apply directly to NJ if a license is needed there, WITHOUT having to pay NCARB fees in the interim.  Again, more proof that we have a profession that is among the least financially rewarding and secure, yet it throws up all these bureaucratic roadblocks at its practitioners, almost as if giving them the finger.

Sep 15, 13 2:01 pm
Tinbeary There there

So instead of trying to learn architecture in the IDP environment of CAD wench who is bound to get laid off sooner or later, do something to actually become a professional, like learn building. Maybe I am the only one who had shitty internships where billable hours trumped any professional development I wanted to engage in. 

For the record, engineers have to do an internship too. It would only be a shorter route if IDP took the average 7 years... oh wait.

Sep 15, 13 6:55 pm

Observant, you take both parts of the United States Medical Liscensing Exam before graduating. You have to pass part 1 mid-way through. For the last 30 years the performance of students on the USMLE has been the single largest factor in institution reputation.

Sep 15, 13 10:15 pm

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