NCARB proposal would shorten time it takes foreign architects to become certified

ncarb-logoThe National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) recently proposed an overhaul of the Broadly Experienced Architect (BEA) and Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect (BEFA) Programs. The proposals would maintain appropriate rigor in the programs while significantly reducing completion time. These changes will optimize the process for U.S. and foreign architects who do not currently meet the requirements to earn NCARB certification for reciprocal licensure.

Currently, the BEA process allows architects without a degree from a National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) accredited program to earn the NCARB Certificate by proving they have six to 10 years of licensed practice in responsible control. In addition, they must have their education evaluated by the NAAB to define education deficiencies. Architects prepare a dossier to demonstrate, post-licensure, how they learned through experience to overcome identified education deficiencies. Then, their dossier is reviewed by NCARB’s BEA Committee.

The proposed change would remove those steps, and instead would ensure that the applicant has completed a state board’s education and experience requirements, passed the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), and practiced for one year. This proposal acknowledges that architects without an accredited degree are required by their original licensing jurisdiction to complete more rigorous experience requirements prior to initial licensure. The streamlining of the submittal process also ensures an objective rather than subjective review.

The BEFA process is in place for architects with a foreign license seeking NCARB certification to facilitate U.S. licensure. It currently requires establishment of an NCARB Record, at least seven years of licensed practice in the foreign country, preparation of a dossier to demonstrate experience in the areas tested in the ARE, and an in-person interview.

The proposal for consideration would remove these steps and instead would require an applicant to establish an NCARB Record, successfully complete the ARE, and document two years of experience either in the applicant’s home country or in the United States after licensure as well as have recognized education and licensing credentials. These changes preserve some of the threshold requirements currently in place, while acknowledging work experience in the United States and requiring passage of the ARE. The addition of the ARE requirement provides assurance as to familiarity with U.S. codes and facility with the English language.

The proposals will be distributed to NCARB’s 54 member jurisdictions for a special comment period. Member Board, collateral, and stakeholder feedback will be used to inform discussions by the Board of Directors in September and December. Depending on the feedback, the Board may move the proposals forward for a vote by the state boards at the next Annual Business Meeting in June 2015.

NCARB’s leading indicators show signs of a thriving architectural profession

ncarb-logoAmong the major findings of NCARB by the Numbers, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ annual report on architectural licensing are that architects are getting licensed at the youngest median age in a decade and that the number of women applying for architect credentials is growing.

A major finding in this year’s report is that the median age of people at initial licensure is at a 10 year low. This means architects are getting licensed at a younger age.

The report also indicates an increase since 2011 in the number of women applying for NCARB Records. The percentage of women applying for NCARB Records continues to hold around 40 percent—a marked increase from 10 percent in the early 1990s.

To receive a copy of NCARB by the Numbers, please contact Sandy Vasan, Director of Marketing & Communications for NCARB, at svasan@ncarb.org.

Slight Contraction for Architecture Billings Index Contracts Slightly

AIAAfter six months of steadily increasing demand for design services, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) paused in November.  As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending.  The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the November ABI score was 49.8, down from a mark of 51.6 in October.  This score reflects a slight decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings).  The new projects inquiry index was 57.8, down from the reading of 61.5 the previous month.

Key November ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: South (52.0), Midwest (51.6), West (50.2), Northeast (47.5)
  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (55.2), mixed practice (53.1), commercial / industrial (48.6), institutional (47.7)
  • Project inquiries index: 57.8

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.

August ABI shows higher demand for design services

AIAThe August 2013 Architecture Billings Index (ABI) showed more acceleration in the growth of design activity nationally. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the August ABI score was 53.8, up from a mark of 52.7 in July. This score reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 63.0, down from the reading of 66.4 the previous month.

“As business conditions at architecture firms have improved eleven out of the past twelve months, it is fair to say that the design professions are in a recovery mode,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “This upturn signals an impending turnaround in nonresidential construction activity, but a key component to maintaining this momentum is the ability of businesses to obtain financing for real estate projects, and for a resolution to the federal government budget and debt ceiling impasse.”

Key August ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: West (54.8), Northeast (54.4), Midwest (52.8), South (51.9)
  • Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (60.1), commercial / industrial (54.8), multi-family residential (52.1), institutional (50.8)
  • Project inquiries index: 63.0

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.

Architecture Billings Index Stays Positive in July

AIAThe Architecture Billings Index (ABI) saw a jump of more than a full point last month, indicating acceleration in the growth of design activity nationally. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the July ABI score was 52.7, up from a mark of 51.6 in June. This score reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 66.7, up dramatically from the reading of 62.6 the previous month.

Key July ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: Northeast (54.3), South (54.2), West (51.1), Midwest (50.8)
  • Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (56.9), commercial / industrial (54.2), multi-family residential (53.3), institutional (50.6)
  • Project inquiries index: 66.4

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.

Sluggish Gains in Architect Compensation

AIAU.S. architecture firms have experienced modest improvements in business conditions over the last two years that has resulted in very small gains in compensation levels for staffs. Between 2001 and 2013, the average total compensation increases for architecture positions were only slightly more than one percent per year, according to the 2013 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Compensation Survey.

Average compensation    2013 2011 2008
Senior design/
project management staff
99,400    94,900    98,800   
Architects/designers 73,000 71,600 71,600
Interns 47,000 47,300 45,400

 

Report costs
The cost of the full report is $209.50 for AIA members, $349 for nonmembers.

Nine regional reports (New England, Middle Atlantic, East North Central, West North Central, South Atlantic, East South Central, West South Central, Mountain, and Pacific) are available for $119.50 for members, $199 for nonmembers.

Metro Area reports for Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC are available to members for $149.50, to nonmembers for $249.

Go to the AIA website for ordering information and a link to download a free sample chapter of the report.

Moseley Architects presented James River Green Building Council Leadership Award

Moseley ArchitectsMoseley Architects accepted the James River Green Building Council’s “Green Building Leadership Award” for the renovation to the administration/activities building at the Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind & Vision Impaired (VRCBVI) in Richmond, Virginia. Annually held, JRGBC Green Leadership Awards foster the encouragement and development of green building in Virginia. The project, which featured a 22,400-square-foot renovation and two small additions totaling 1,320 square feet, was recognized in the category of Adaptive Reuse.

The VRCBVI, operated by the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI), was established in 1970 to provide comprehensive adjustment services to severely visually impaired Virginians. The center teaches blind persons strategies and skills to adapt to living without sight, and teaches people with partial blindness ways to use their remaining sight more effectively.

In accordance with Commonwealth of Virginia Energy Conservation and Environmental Performance Standards, sustainable features were incorporated into the building design and construction. The installation of translucent skylights and glare control treatments created open, bright space while electric vehicle charging stations were added to promote the use of low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles. The roof was replaced with a standing seam metal system coated with a highly solar reflective paint that reduces heat gain to the building caused by the heat island effect.

New low-flux bathroom plumbing fixtures were installed that are estimated to save the facility 34,000 gallons of water per year. All HVAC equipment, ductwork, and associated controls were removed and replaced with a new variable air volume (VAV) system with energy recovery technology. Carefully designed metering will allow for long-term energy use measurement and verification. Indoor air quality was protected by using low-emitting building materials and furnishings, separating and ventilating chemical storage areas, providing entryway mat systems to reduce dirt tracked into the building, specifying high-efficiency HVAC filtration, and the Owner worked to prepare and implement a green housekeeping plan.

As a result of these efforts, the project exceeded its goals and achieved LEED certification at the Gold level. The renovated building is now an attractive, efficient, sustainable, yet highly functional building well-suited for its very unique population.