Connecting the Dots

by Brad Smith, AIA

Brad Smith, AIA

Past Chair, SC Board of Architectural Examiners, Managing Principal, McMillan Pazdan Smith

As a managing principal, Brad’s role includes staff development, continuous integration of firm culture and internal communications.

When I first was appointed to the South Carolina Board of Architectural Examiners in early 2009, I did not fully understand the relationship between NCARB, our State Boards and our Profession. Maybe I was lazy but I just never took the time to “connect the dots”. I always thought of NCARB as a necessary evil toward achieving reciprocity between our States, and still remember the long, laborious process I endured pursuing  certification in the late 80’s.

Let me try and “connect the dots” for you. NCARB, National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, was formed around 1920. This clearing house was the result of our predecessors searching for a solution to the dilemma faced every time a registered architect wanted to become registered in another state. It seemed that it was more and more difficult for each state to evaluate the requirements of every other state and it was difficult to assess whether each state was welcoming architects from other states. NCARB was formed as a non-profit organization, with membership comprised of Registration Boards of our 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The only members of NCARB are the legally constituted registration boards. Only the member boards formulate the rules and policies of NCARB and elect the officers.

So, what are the responsibilities of NCARB? First, NCARB renders services to Member Boards by:
  • Developing educational standards which may be adopted by the Member Boards as the standards to be required of registration candidates
  • Development of an Intern Development Program (IDP) which has been adopted by Member Boards as the Internship Standard of candidates for registration.  South Carolina currently has 435 active records in an intern status
  • Development of the Architectural Registration Exam (ARE) used by all Member Boards to test architectural interns to practice architecture independently
  • Recommending standards for professional conduct for registered architects which are widely adopted by the Member Boards and often find their way into our registration statutes
  • Developing legislative guidelines for use by Member Boards in revising their statutes to strengthen the protection of the public interest through better laws
Second, NCARB provides services to registered architects. That is primarily comprised of maintaining the nationwide system based on the NCARB certificate.
It is interesting to note that dues collected from the Member Boards comprise less than two percent of the NCARB gross revenue. Most revenue is generated through services it furnishes to architectural interns and registered architects.
Some of the more recent services that have been developed include published Supervisor Guidelines for Architects who supervise interns. It has taken a lot of the guess work out of the IDP process and requirements. The communication department of NCARB provides electronic outreach through podcasts and webinars which are very helpful to students and interns. Also, the IDP department is currently in the process of visiting all 100+ architecture schools to meet with students and answer their questions. This has really helped reduce the amount of confusion among students.
In South Carolina, we require the NCARB Record for reciprocity licensure. This saves our staff much time and effort. Currently in South Carolina, we have 3740 registered architects and 1253 registered firms. Our Board and AIASC have a great relationship. Adrienne Montare, Executive Director of AIASC, attends our board meetings. Our past Board Chairman and current Regional Director of NCARB, Dennis Ward, recently spoke to the AIASC Board of Directors. We also work together on legislative issues as they occur, and AIASC is a part of a Design Professional Group that meets quarterly with other government staff who sort out design and construction issues within our state and profession.
Our SC Board has agreed to sponsor Continuing Education seminars conducted by Clemson’s Rutland Institute of Ethics which will entail three sessions of six CE hours in Health Safety and Welfare in three separate locations. These seminars are financed by the Board’s Education and Research Fund.
In today’s reality of economic stress and state budget cuts, our State Board has been able to remain actively involved at a Regional and National level. This is made possible by state funds (your license fees) and additional funding from NCARB that allows us to attend the board meetings at a national level. Many of the state board members, including our Administrator, also participate on NCARB committees giving us a voice and the ability to affect actions through our participation.
To “connect the dots” back to you, as an architect registered in South Carolina, please remember we are here to be your voice and to support our profession at a national level so that it continues to be held in high regard to the public and our clients. I look forward to hearing any comments or concerns you may have.

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