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NCARB and all the letters

July 26, 2017

A big part of the personal journey I've been on included participating NCARB's AXP. The Architectural Experience Program is a way to ensure candidates get the appropriate and varied experience required to be allowed to shoulder the responsibility of being an expert for a client. By the way, this name took over from IDP - Intern Development Program. Fancy words for get three more years of learning under your belt.


In addition to varied experience, the ARE's or Architectural Registration Exams, are designed to prove that experience are also set up to help the registration board determine who should be eligible for the title and license. The exams are structured such that they measure competency of knowledge, and ensure that we can protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public and building occupants.


Current requirements to receive an architecture license, legally call myself an architect, and sign construction drawings include

  • 5 years of school and a Bachelors of Architecture from an accredited university

  • 3,750 hours of work experience in six "practice areas"

  • 3 years minimum of work experience

  • 6 tests that cover the six practice areas


six practice areas = six "umbrellas" of what an architect does

practice management

- understaning how to run a firm

- professional ethics, legal requirements, and fiduciary responsibility

- government regulations on architecture firms, individual practitioners, and case history

- business structure and winning work

- production and staffing, and asset allocation

project management

- managing design projects through development, detailing, and construction

- drawing organization

- contract management

- consultant management

- addressing issues with quality control and accuracy

- building a project team

- scheduling and budgeting

programming and analysis

- evaluation of owner and project requirements

- design and code compliance constraints

- understand project design decision implications and opportunities

- engage in comparative analysis

- evaluation of project site and context

- development of basis of design

- assessment of feasibility of cost

project planning and design

- assess design concepts

- establish sustainability goals and determine appropriate products and systems

- applying accessible design requirements, conforming to code requirements

- selecting building systems, materials, and assemblies

- understanding implications of different types of plumbing, mechanical, electrical, acoustical, structural, lighting, and other specialty systems

project development and documentation

- integration and documentation of all systems and assemblies

- analyze specific technology in order to meet project goals

- determine sizes for all systems are appropriate to meet project needs

- coordination of systems, technologies, and assemblies with other systems, and confirming that disciplines are using accurate information

- determine how project changes impacts documentation

- determine documentation of detail drawings to convey design intent

- write, maintain, and refine project manual (written specifications of each item that will go in the building)

- confirm all design decisions remain within code requirements

- analyze detailed cost estimates to determine if design conforms to project budget

construction management

- administration of the contract between contractor and owner (the architect, as the expert, makes sure the contractor continues to operate per the contract)

- construction observation for design compliance

- reviewing products purchased by the contractor for design compliance

- contractor's payment processing and project closeout and final inspections



All of this listed above barely scrapes the iceberg in terms of depth of knowledge associated with each subject! Lots of people think architects do big design, and prefer showy buildings. The reality is quite the opposite! We wear many hats, specialize in many subjects, and attempt to understand multiple and various lifestyles! An architectural license allows us to design all sorts of building types and structures for all sorts of clients.


The FREEDOM of having a license after the intensive seasons of studying is liberating, but comes with a heavy responsibility to protect the people that occupy the buildings we design.







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