6 Month Rule Will Hurt Architecture Profession

In theory, the Intern Development Program (IDP), helps emerging designers obtain a varied experience in the practice of architecture. In addition to the Architect Registration Exams, the three-years-worth of required hours are supposed to extend the education of designers and prepare them for the pitfalls of licensure. The system is also set up to let employers know what is required of them when they train their interns. Unfortunately, practice is never as smooth as the principles. Ask any intern or recently licensed professional, and you will get an earful of what barriers they had to overcome to complete and file their hours. Part of the reason fewer designers are getting licensed, I believe, is because of the complicated and costly bureaucracy that many do not see as necessary for practice.

This Saturday, 06.28.08, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) will vote on an initiative that will make the IDP process even more difficult. Resolution 2008-07, which includes the “6 Month Rule,” will require interns to file their training units every six months. Training units not reported in a timely manner will expire on a rolling clock after eight months. The National Associates Committee has voiced opposition, and now the AIA National Board has announced a formal position against the resolution as well.

A rolling clock should not be a deciding factor on whether or not one’s experience is valid. While NCARB may be trying to prevent interns from filing all of their hours at once, the organization should focus more on how to help designers become architects. There are many ways it can do this, from establishing guidelines for designers who were educated and/or practiced abroad, to requiring that firms set up committees or programs that help interns complete their hours. It could establish more scholarships to help pay NCARB fees, and work toward making the training unit forms Mac-friendly, not just PC-based. Ultimately, NCARB should help the profession thrive, not hinder its growth.

To read more, the Boston Society of Architects and the AIA Emerging Professionals website have the information well organized online. There is an active discussion thread debating the pros and cons of the initiative on the AIA Archiblog. And the AIA has published FAQ’s on the resolution.