Calling yourself an architect


i don't know sneaky.  black seems to be reaching for new lows.

he is suggesting that an architect (IT) is pretty much the same as an architect (building)

so, if black_orchid were to hire an architect to help him with his business or whatever clients do, it wouldn't matter if that architect were to design an outline for project to be coded in a particular software suite or to design a building.  effectively those are the same services, and will serve him as a client equally because they both build something.

this is why there needs to be some basic test of competence.

Mar 24, 16 4:16 pm  · 

David Cole,

Having been across both Oregon and Washington licensing board (not always the target of licensing boards, though), what I can tell you over the matters is this:

Licensing boards despite the way the statutes are written, does in fact have limits. The U.S. Constitution does curtail the licensing board a little bit. If the title in use pertain to a job that is not part of or closely related to the occupation the licensing board was created for. For example, in the case of Architecture and architects in the realm of designing buildings. If it is about the built environment and the person is calling themselves an architect in that capacity then it can be an issue.

Throw you an example: 

If I used the title architect in connection with building design business or other closely related business including historic preservation of buildings and structures then I would violate the laws and rules.

HOWEVER, if I used the title in connection of software development like "Software Architect" then the licensing board would be exceeding their authority to enforce because the actual risk or reason perception of risk to public health, safety and welfare is not there. Without such a justifiable reason, it would be a violation of the 1st Amendment and the 14th Amendment. It would be abridging rights of U.S. citizens namely abridging (to lessen or restrict.... the right of free speech and publishing. A U.S. citizen shall never be fined, incarcerated or otherwise penalized by the U.S. federal or state government for exercising the right of free speech and publishing. While a societal exception maybe there to justify against fraud (consumer protection) where a risk of health, safety or welfare is present.

When you get right down to it, don't waste time reporting cases that have nothing to do with architecture from which your license is related to.

I'm sure we all would like to not have to weed through all these IT related job posts to get to the job posts you want to get to. The licensing board can not go after people who uses the title in a manner that doesn't pose risk to the public. The public doesn't hire IT professionals to design buildings and IT professionals aren't designing buildings nor would entertain taking such a commission on. If they do and they design NON-EXEMPT buildings and use the Architect title in connection with that project then it's a problem. 

In those cases, do a little due diligence of checking before submitting a complaint to a licensing board.

They can sue you for filing a complaint to the licensing board. Especially if you do it multiple times. This causes people a bunch of heartache and annoyance so I caution it. 

The reason I may not use the title Architect in connection with building design is because the nature of my business is in the same domain. In other words, I am essentially practicing as an 'architect' * ( * = classic dictionary definition before licensing laws. ) In a civil case, I would be considered a case law or COMMON LAW  'architect' because in that sense, the premise of what I so as a BUILDING DESIGNER is architecture and the creation of architectural work. However, I can not use the "Architect" title as the licensing laws have it written. Therefore, the rise of alternate term for Architect can into greater use. That is the term Building Designer. While before licensing laws were in existence, the term 'building designer' was a rarely used alternate form of the term Architect. In those days, anyone who designs buildings for a living is an Architect. 

As unlicensed common law 'architects' we have laws saying we can't use the Architect title. We must use an alternate term such as building designer. You can use the term designer then it raises the question what kind of designer are you? A cartoonist. A comic book artist. An chip designer (IC chips) or what? 

The term 'building designer' simply says a person using that title is a DESIGNER OF BUILDINGS. 

Home Designer would means a DESIGNER OF HOMES. 

Residential Designer would means a Designer of Residences or Residential structures. 

I use the term BUILDING DESIGNER because I don't want to be to  specific to residential structures. Although they may make a large percentage of work I do, I don't market myself to only designing houses. Houses are just among the types of buildings.

In Oregon and Washington, I get to design even small commercial buildings, agricultural buildings (they are not always houses). 

Mar 24, 16 4:43 pm  · 

Balkins, I never read your drivel.

Mar 24, 16 4:47 pm  · 
Non Sequitur

... common-law architect. Well, that's a new one.

Mar 24, 16 4:57 pm  · 

Yeah you do. 

The licensing boards are not limitless in their authority.

They can not go every nonsense case. I'll tell you exactly what OBAE and DOL in Washington would do if you send a complaint about an IT person using the title IT Architect. 

 "close the case with no action."

Just so you know, I had file complaint to OBAE before and I have seen the minutes of the meetings of both OBAE and DOL. It's been tried.

Basically, unless the use of the title is in connection with person or business that conducts services or other activities connected with the designing and construction of buildings and other physical structures. 

If the title is connected with activities that falls under the Architecture, Engineering and Construction field or ie. THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT, then there is a legitimate cause for complaint.

Do keep in mind that if you file complaints to regulatory bodies like filing a lawsuit against a person for reason at all, the person(s) you filed against can sue you because you are causing harm against that person or business. My point is be careful and be sure aren't causing harm to people who hasn't done anything to really harm you, this profession or otherwise.

IT professionals using the word architect in job position titles does not harm us as a profession OR causes the general public any harm.

NO one hires a two bit Techno-Weenie to design a dog house let alone any human occupied building or major structures. Different bodies of knowledge. 

Mar 24, 16 5:13 pm  · 
Balkins is a living tl;dr

Also you are not an architect of any kind, stop portraying yourself as such. Common law architect? Ugh.
Mar 24, 16 5:14 pm  · 
Sharky McPeterson

Josh Mings

You are incorrect. Richard W.C. Balkins, BD is a licensed bullshit architect. By his own logic, he can call himself that because "the title is [not] connected with activities that falls under the Architecture, Engineering and Construction field or ie. THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT."

Mar 24, 16 5:19 pm  · 

A legal change of name is all that will save you, richard. 


One google search and nobody hires you.



Mar 24, 16 5:20 pm  · 
Sharky McPeterson

I don't know if that's true SneakyPete; Balkins sure does have a ton of endorsements on LinkedIn.

Mar 24, 16 5:31 pm  · 

Non Sequitur,

Common law  refers to case laws and case laws dates back to well before any architectural licensing laws and building designer would fit the definition of architect under that context.

You should realize that court cases in connection with architects (and inadvertantly building designers) predates licensing laws.

The concept of licensed Architects and unlicensed building designers as separate occupations or the fracturing of the Architect Profession into Licensed Architects --- Unlicensed building designers began with the licensing laws.

When the licensing laws were made in most states, there was exemptions. There was also a grandfather clause but those grandfathering clauses usually required 10 YEARS of practice as an Architect. Some did not quite have that duration nor were they employed for 8 or so years. Some were either self-trained, or had some kind of correspondence school education of maybe 2-3 years and worked for an architect for maybe 1 year or so and then set out on their own and only been in business of their own for maybe 2 years. They didn't get grandfathered in and the experience path they had was 8 years or so of working as an employee of an architect. Therefore 5-6 years of experience. Therefore, they didn't get licensed and so now we had this fracturing of the profession. 

Before hand, there was no license and therefore there was no such thing as a licensed or registered architect. Everyone was unlicensed or non-licensed because the profession was non-licensed. 

However, court cases which is what COMMON LAW is about goes back to those times.

Therefore from a thorough judicial point of view, a building designer is essentially an 'architect'. The definition at play was basically the dictionary definition. That definition still exists. We still call all these people before licensing laws, Architects. A building designer is in effect an architect while albeit not a STATUTORY architect, these unlicensed building designers are in effect architects under those terms. Under common law/case law, the common dictionary definitions were part of legal proceeding. When a statutory definition does not exist or does not fit the case, standard dictionary definition applies. That creates a precedence that still exists. 

Law can be funny in that way. I can show you a copy of a dictionary from that time. It is nice that these days, they have these scanned into PDFs. However, the dictionary existed and would be hard to get our hands on in physical form. 

Precedence remains in existence for pretty much as long as judicial records are retained, archived, preserved, etc. 

In the days before licensing laws, if I design houses or other buildings even if all the projects would fall under the exemptions of today, what would I be called?

If I used the title architect for services relating to architecture, today..... without being licensed, the licensing board can issue or levy fines but nonetheless, what I would be doing as a profession is architecture and from a common law point of view I would technically be an architect but however, statutory laws and rules prohibits the use of the Architect title without a license in any manner that would reasonably cause the public to be deceived or otherwise be misrepresented as being licensed. That layer of law has to be considered in cases of today.

When someone uses the title Architect in connection with a non-related occupation like Software development, IT infrastructure, Computer Networking, etc. the board loses jurisdictional capacity. 

The board is limited to the extent that there is reasonable public harm. How is the public at large harmed by some techno-weenie using the title 'Network Architect' for a computer networking company? 

If a building designer used the title Architect in connection with services of designing buildings, is there a perceivable harm to the public?

Mar 24, 16 5:42 pm  · 

The only thing causing harm around here is you, dude.


You're beginning to damage my calm.

Mar 24, 16 5:45 pm  · 


What is the definition of Architect that has been in use since the dawn of time?

I'll even argue that if you go by its original and true meaning, you are not one either unless you actually build the building.

Mar 24, 16 5:45 pm  · 

Tearing other people down to validate yourself isn't going to win you any admirers, fool.

Mar 24, 16 5:48 pm  · 


AH! The proverbial discrimination against someone for free speech.

Ripe for LAWSUITS.

Lighten up. Don't be an asshole. Use your thinking. The statutory definitions only applies to interpreting the laws in connection with enforcement of law. Beyond that, the definition of architect is much broader than the statutory law but even then the courts are well within jurisdiction to apply case law history and precedent definition where it matters in a judicial case.

Mar 24, 16 5:53 pm  · 


Look at yourself, hypocrite.

Mar 24, 16 5:54 pm  · 


Mar 24, 16 5:59 pm  · 

Not hiring you for saying stupid shit isn't a violation of your rights, dunce.

Mar 24, 16 6:00 pm  · 
Sharky McPeterson

Such brilliance, R.W.C.B. Can't argue with a genius, I guess.

Mar 24, 16 6:02 pm  · 


Everyone speaks stupid shit including yourself. Therefore, if saying stupid shit, in what is basically casual chat and otherwise mostly personal opinions and banter, is a good legitimate reason to not hire someone, we shouldn't hire you or anyone for that matter.

By the way, this is text so its "writing" not "saying". 

Mar 24, 16 7:56 pm  · 

Stop smoking crack Balkins

Mar 24, 16 8:37 pm  · 

You guys playing this gang up on Rick because Rick says something you don't like. 

What would a person who designs buildings be called before licensing laws?

Now, ask yourself seriously, what does a building designer do for a living? 

(Don't look at me just answer the question seriously).

100 years ago in Oregon, what would I be called if I designed houses and other buildings?

Court history and case law history with architects goes back well into the 19th century. However, historic case law documents are hard to find online.


Licensing boards can not legally fine a computer IT guy for using the title IT Architect or like titles when the title is exclusively used in connection with IT stuff. Why?

Why is simple. The board's authority has limits despite the loose language they use. The reason is there are governing rules and laws that governs states and state occupational licensing. They can't regulate a profession or occupation unless there is a risk to public health, safety and welfare. The architect board has clear limits and clear defined intent. Statutory definition of architect and practice of architecture defines a context in which a set of laws are intended. 

It is illegal for state to regulate common words. That causes undue interference and abridgment of the freedom of speech in which the 14th Amendment prohibits States and their political subdivisions. It become clear and blatant censorship if they did so. The limited exception is protection of public health, safety and welfare. There has to be justification or it is unenforceable as the licensing board would be the harming party. The one harmed would be those they are levying fines against.

Citizens did not authorize these boards this extent of latitude to abuse them. Even the legislators can't impose laws that far reaching without taking it to a ballot vote. The Constitution is the supreme law of the country and the citizens. All other laws are subordinate to the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights within. 

The board has limits. Now, lets look at the scenario. The IT Architect designing Information Technology infrastructure (computers, networking, software, data systems, etc.) The board has to assess whether or not the IT guy's title use is harming the public. Not the profession. The PUBLIC. Is the public being harmed or deceived by IT guys? Are the IT guys being hired or commissioned to design buildings? Yes or no.

Can a reasonable citizen tell the difference between an Architect (who designs buildings) from an IT Architect doing IT infrastructure? Is there sufficient distinction to know the difference.

As a building designer, offering building design services, if I used the Architect title, it can be a problem.

As a software developer, offering software design services using the title Software architect isn't a problem unless I co-mingle the title use with building design services and that becomes a complicated matter. This is why I keep my software work separate from building design work. The closer the work intersects or interweaves with building design, I just don't use the "software architect" title. 

I go as far as having separate websites. I more often use software developer and being software architect, software engineer, programmer, etc. are more or less the many hats/roles that I do as incidental to development. The role is like being developer (analog to Software Developer), architect/designer (analog to Software Architect/Designer), engineer (analog to Software engineer), builder (analog might be the programmers, graphic artists, sound/music, etc.... ie. the software 'trades').

What I do know from experience of filing complaints of 3 or 4 software businesses using the "Architect" title to OBAE and DOL WA. Lets just say every one of them had the case closed with no action except one which was a state agency where the board simply sent basically a letter of concern / memorandum. 

I actually filed that some years ago. You know when the state doesn't follow its own rules, I had to do that. In that case, it was kind of interesting to see how OBAE deals with Oregon's DHS (Department of Human Services). 

Obviously there wasn't any real teeth or actions. It's micro-funded state agency against a mainline big state agency funded from a lot more money.

It was like expected.

At some point, you know, its a waste of energy. These boards have no interest on these kinds of issues.

Mar 24, 16 9:23 pm  · 

"As a building designer, offering building design services, if I used the Architect title, it can be a problem."

Yes, and that is the succinct answer to the OP's question.  The other thousands of words are superfluous.

Did you finish measuring that little rectangular house with your surveying equipment yet?

Mar 24, 16 9:38 pm  · 

Yeah. As much as I want to with that small project.

I know, it got wordy but the point of illustrating by examples takes additional words and to understand how the laws and enforcement works and where the limits of the boards despite their zeal that they may have. 

Right now, aside from other work I need to do and so forth, I am working on stuff towards building designer certification. If you want to here more about that, PM me or we can move it to a more appropriate thread about that topic. I mention it but not intended to debate in depth or converse on this thread.

Mar 24, 16 10:21 pm  · 

Richard I know you're familiar with Fred Stitt's work and have some respect for it.  His advice about writing is:

The shorter the text, the more likely it is to be read and understood.

Lengthy text is the mark of lazy and unsure writers.

Always edit.  

Edit with the goal of reducing every 12 words to 2.

Filler words can be eliminated with no loss of meaning.

Always delete generalities, or replace with fewer words with more specific meanings.

Eliminate words that permit varying interpretation.

Write simply.

Avoid compound sentences.

Include one indivisible statement per sentence.

Include one indivisible topic per paragraph.

Mar 24, 16 10:38 pm  · 

Is Blabkins back on the ritalin?

Mar 24, 16 11:03 pm  · 

Thanks, Threesleeve. 

I'll work on employing those suggestions. 

Mar 24, 16 11:06 pm  · 

An architect is a person who creates architecture.  I couldn't care less about title bullshit.  

Mar 25, 16 1:37 am  · 


Ok, what is architecture?

From the Architect licensing laws, the context scope is more in line with this definition:

"the art or science of designing and creating buildings". - (source:

If we took some of the most universal definitions that exists (see example), it would be to overarching and that was not part of the original act that was adopted and the scope authorized. Otherwise, everything that involves a thought in any defined form or a structured thought would be requiring a license. 



a :  formation or construction resulting from or as if from a conscious act


b :  a unifying or coherent form or structure

- (source:


You can see that the public would never allow that far of an overreach from a licensing law point of view as it would encompass any occupation that requires formation of a conscious act / thought or anything establishing form or structure.

If those licensing law was as open ended and broad of scope and authority to cover anything regarding these two definitions then they are woefully failing to test candidates. The ARE as we know it even 5.0 would have to be shit canned right now.

They would have to open up the door of recognizing many more forms of educations. Even a lawyer would qualify by education and their work would be considered architecture. If that was the intent and scope of these laws, everything about licensing occupations as we know it would have to be shit canned as it had been done all wrong for all these years. Now can you imagine that.

Mar 25, 16 2:59 am  · 

If Architect boards wants to be regulating Software Architects, the ARE is clearly the wrong test for testing competency of a Software Architect.

I can go into this but I'll leave it at that for the night versus diving into the nuance.

Mar 25, 16 3:58 am  · 

why degrade yourself?

Mar 25, 16 7:40 am  · 

"What is architecture?"

The creation of space.   Imo virtual space fits into the overall realm of architecture as does landscape, set design, etc...Building architecture is a subcategory of Architecture.  The idea that the general title "architect" can be owned is ridiculous and arrogant.  

Mar 25, 16 12:15 pm  · 


While I do agree with your sentiment and point. As you know, architecture can have varying degrees of breadth to its definition. Your definition would fall between the narrowest definitions and the widest/most generic definition.

Mar 25, 16 12:38 pm  · 

In Australia the title of “Architect” as a noun is licensed, in order to set minimum standards for the public to be assured of the capability of a practitioner.   This is more important now as universities are turning out graduates who can circumvent core subjects of what used to be required to gain registration. 

The Answer to this title dilemma is to just get registered!! And for students to demand that their courses lead to automatic qualification for registration. 

No one complains about the Registration of doctors or lawyers,  the only people complaining are those who can’t or don’t want to get registered. 

Feb 16, 19 8:07 pm  · 

Except that medical doctors in the US are addressed as "doctors" and put MD after their name AFTER medical school and BEFORE residency. They are now called "residents" as well but used to be called "interns". It is something nice the medical establishment does to recognize the students finishing medical school. If the newly-minted MD never goes through residency for whatever reason and never gets licensed to practice he can carry his earned honorifics with him to the grave and have them chiseled on his tombstone.

Feb 17, 19 8:02 am  · 

This arguementbis not about what an individuals entitlements are, but about what the public can expect to obtain from apountjng a registered practitioner.

Feb 17, 19 8:25 am  · 

Pity the public in the US if that’s the situation there.

Feb 17, 19 8:25 am  · 

From the Medical Board of Australia: "On completing your medical degree, you receive provisional registration and enter the workforce as an intern or postgraduate year 1 (PGY1) doctor." So the medical board of Australia calls recent graduates doctors also. Any more questions?

Feb 17, 19 8:36 am  · 

This thread should've been left burried, it's all been said before in this or any other thread about licensing.

Feb 17, 19 3:10 pm  · 

It's funny how old threads have a way of resurrecting themselves. Ironically enough, I came across this topic again recently. Not too long ago, I met a designer who is a foreign licensed architect who is marketing himself as a "Architect licensed in *foreign country*". However, he gives no reference on his website or otherwise that he is not licensed in the US. Additionally, he makes careful distinction not have "architecture" in his firm title but still gives the impression that he is better than the run-of-the-mill unlicensed professionals.

Mar 13, 19 4:38 pm  · 

I worked with a lighting designer once who put on his own business cards the title: CBA. And when people asked what that stood for, he’d just grin and say “certified bad ass.”

Nov 4, 19 11:21 am  · 

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