Architects, Take Back the Reins

Things are looking dismal in our profession.  We have lots of bad buildings in the U.S.  We have record numbers of unemployed architecture professionals, and many of the firms that do have work are getting lower fees for their services.  Architects seem to be respected a little bit less every decade by owners and contractors.

And, every decade, a higher percentage of design and construction projects seem to be led by the contractor team.

Yes, there’s a connection.  More contractor-led projects lead to more badly-designed buildings, lower fees for architects, less stability for architecture firms, and less respect for architects.

If we want better buildings to make up our built environment, if we want to be proud to be architects, and to be able to support our families on our salaries as architects, we need to change some things about how architects practice.  Once we make those changes, we can get back to being the leaders in the design and construction process, and we will have better buildings in the U.S.

Forget about this horrible recession for a minute.  I know it’s a big factor in our situation now, in February 2012, and it’s the reason for all the unemployment.  But just think back to 2007 or so, when the economy was fine.  Even then, we had a bunch of problems that we have now:

  1. We have intern architects clamoring for the right to call themselves “architects” without having to take those pesky Architect Registration Exams.
  2. Architecture school costs students more money every decade, yet, every decade, teaches them less that will help them in their practices as architects.2
  3. We have architecture firms recommending Construction Manager as Constructor project delivery to owners.3  We have contractors leading most Design/Build projects, and architects who are happy to partner with them. 4  Essentially, we have more contractor-led design projects than we did a few decades ago, and architects have played a part in letting this happen, and as a result, we have more bad buildings.
  4. We have some architects who don’t understand owner-contractor agreements, and who don’t know what the project specifications say, administering the contract for construction on design-bid-build projects.  They get led around by the nose by contractors, and are not providing to owners the services the owners expected and contracted for.  The owners get less value than they should, and therefore the owners have less respect for architects.
  5. We have some architects who don’t know much about building codes, building technology, and construction detailing, yet who are producing documents that contractors are supposed to build from.  So we get some building designs that are really poorly executed in construction, and look like junk in a few years.
  6. We have some guys who call themselves construction managers poorly managing the documentation part of bidding and negotiation with their subcontractors, and architects who don’t even recognize how poorly the owner is being served.  The architect who doesn’t know much about procurement and contracting, and doesn’t know much about construction, serves very little purpose to the owner on a construction manager project, whether the CM is a good one, or just someone calling himself one.

The more we have design decisions made by contractors (who are driven by costs), the more badly-designed buildings we will get, and the less the public will think that design matters.  The less good design people see, the less they think they need it in their world, and the less they’re willing to pay for it, and the more buildings will be built for the lowest price possible, and the more contractor-led projects we’ll have, and the more bad buildings we’ll have, and the fewer practicing architects we’ll have.  This is bad for our built environment and bad for our profession.

The more students, emerging professionals, and licensed architects focus on design (the way the building is intended to look) to the exclusion of the technical stuff (the instructions to the contractor for achieving the design intent – the specifications and the construction details), the more we will back ourselves into the corner of having to rely on contractors to design the details.  At that point, owners may be pretty easily persuaded by contractors that it’s just a short jump from designing all the details to designing the whole building.

The more architects focus on design, and the less they work on improving their knowledge of construction documentation, construction details, building technology, construction specifications, agreements, and construction contract administration, the more work (including design work, starting with the detailing) will have to be handed over to contractors, which will lead to more bad buildings in our world, lower fees and less respect for architects, and less value to building owners.  It’s counterintuitive, but the more architecture schools and architecture firms focus on design (and ignore the technical stuff), the more bad design we’ll see in the world.  The focus on design to the exclusion of the technical stuff is counterproductive; we’re “designing” ourselves right out of our traditional scope of work.    

Architects need to take back the reins, and keep a firm grip on them.  Here’s how:    

  • Architects need to understand that part of their job is to interpret the code and incorporate the code requirements into the project documents.
  • Architects need to understand what they are drawing, and need to have a good feeling for how the building and their details will actually be constructed.
  • Architects need to understand that the specifications are contract documents, too, and are complementary to the drawings.
  • Architects need to understand that they are responsible, (according to the code, and according to their owner-architect agreements) for coordinating the work of all the design disciplines.
  • Architects need to get better at construction contract administration – they need to understand construction contracts and Division 01 of the specifications as well as the technical sections.

In order to get the chance to produce good designs, architects have to get back to understanding, and properly drawing, the construction details, the way architects used to (before they started handing this architectural work over to contractors).  In order to get to work on building designs that are executed well in construction, architects must get back to the basics of understanding building technology, thorough product research, specifications writing, good construction contract administration practices, and good agreements that include fair compensation and appropriate allocation of risk.

Architects need to think about their work in a different way. 

Of course, there are good architects whose firms are doing everything they should be.  And there are good construction management firms who are true assets to projects.  With good architects and good contractors, good working relationships between architects and contractors are possible, and are happening right now.  And the owners are often getting a good value.  But architects don’t have to have contracts with contractors, or give away work to them, or go along with them to the detriment of the owner, in order to get along with contractors.  Good contract documents (clear, concise, correct and complete drawings and specifications) and an understanding of roles and responsibilities during construction are the appropriate foundation for good working relationships between architects and contractors.

The Construction Specification Institute can help architects improve their practices. CSI’s certification programs can help architects develop a better understanding of the construction process, better construction contract administration skills, better construction documentation abilities, and better means of communication with the contractor on projects.

If we don’t change the way many firms are practicing architecture right now, I see a future with fewer practicing architects, even lower fees, more poorly-designed buildings, more poorly-constructed buildings, and less respect for architects.  If architects don’t get more technical, but keep focusing on design instead, we’ll actually end up with less good design in the world. 

Notes:

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  1. Check out “Architect” magazine’s article “The 50-Year-Old Intern.”  http://www.architectmagazine.com/architects/the-50-year-old-intern.aspx  Remember, “Architect” is “The Magazine of the American Institute of Architects.”  The article actually asks, “Does Licensure Matter?”  Also check out this article by John Cary published in the online magazine “Good”: http://www.good.is/post/why-architecture-s-identity-problem-should-matter-to-the-rest-of-us.  Even though they work in architecture firms, many emerging professionals don’t know what it means to be an architect.  This dilutes the respect that the public has for architects.  The International Building Code requires documents to be submitted for permit by a “registered design professional in responsible charge”, who is “a registered design professional engaged by the owner to review and coordinate certain aspects of the project, as determined by the building official, for compatibility with the design of the building or structure, including submittal documents prepared by others.”  I can’t imagine this requirement changing anytime soon.  This person can be an engineer or an architect.  It’s best, for our built environment, to have this person be an architect.  It’s best if this architect is directly hired by the owner, instead of by a contractor who is part of an alternative project delivery team.  On most buildings, design professionals can’t submit for permit if they aren’t licensed.  You can’t lead if you’re not licensed.  Students and interns need to understand this, and the public needs to understand this.
  2. One thing I learned really, really well from my 2 summer internships and my 5 years in college (the whole first half of the 1990’s) was that I didn’t know much, and that I had a lot that I needed to learn after graduation, during my internship.  This is a concept that many of today’s emerging professionals seem to be unable to grasp.  I suspect that they are not being taught this in school, and I think this has something to do with the lack of experienced professionals who are teaching in architecture schools.  The National Architectural Accrediting Board “2010 Report on Accreditation in Architecture Education” tells us, “Of the total number of assistant, associate, and full professors, 934 (29.4%) are registered to practice in a U.S. jurisdiction.”  Less than a third of faculty in accredited architecture schools are licensed!  Only 25.9%, about a quarter, of full professors are actually licensed.  This report can be found on this page.
  3. When you don’t know much about construction or the technical parts of architecture, doing construction management project delivery method takes some of the pressure to figure out how to meet the owner’s budget off the architect.  Having the Contractor’s input during preconstruction seems to take some of the risk out of the project for the architect.  I know how it feels.  When I was a project manager in an architecture firm, I knew that there was a lot I didn’t know.  I was so relieved to find out that a large project that I was managing was going to be a Construction Manager as Constructor project.  That project wrapped up in 2000.  (I haven’t been happy with a CM as Constructor project since 1999.   You do the math.)  The fact is that if you don’t really know what you’re doing, and the CM gives you no preconstruction input, but you were counting on it, you’re in bad shape.  And the truth is that your actual liability as an architect doesn’t change if the contractor is a CM as Constructor.  Take back the scope of architecture work that should be yours – do design-bid-build project delivery and hire a good estimator as your consultant to help advise you on designing to the owner’s budget.
  4. When the contractor is the entity who has the agreement with the owner, well, the contractor is your client.  Wouldn’t you rather work for the owner, whom you may be able to convince to implement good design, rather than work for the contractor, who is almost always going to make design decisions driven by the dollars?  When architects don’t have a direct relationship with owners, and serve only as the contractor’s consultant in order to produce a permit set for the contractor, respect and fees for architects get chipped away at, and get progressively lower.

Company Culture and Architects’ Contractual Obligations

Architecture firm principals, managing partners, anyone who signs Contracts or Agreements:  Always give a copy of your Owner-Architect Agreement to your project architects, project managers and job captains at the beginning of the Schematic Design Phase.  If your construction contract administration team is made up of different people, give that team copies of your Owner-Architect Agreement at the beginning of the Construction Phase, at the very latest.  Give your team copies of your Architect-Consultant Agreements, too.  (If your firm keeps fee info confidential from employees, obscure those numbers.  But give them the documents!) 

When you give them the documents, tell them to read them!  Tell the construction contract administration team to read the Owner-Contractor Agreement, and the General Conditions of the Contract for Construction, as well as the Owner-Architect Agreement and Architect-Consultant Agreements. 

All of these documents spell out some of the Architect’s obligations.  Many emerging professionals are not familiar with all of the Architect’s typical obligations.  Those who haven’t yet begun the process of studying for their architectural registration exams may have no idea what’s contained in an Owner-Architect Agreement or in the General Conditions of the Contract.  But when these Agreements get executed, the Architect becomes legally responsible for performing the activities required by these Agreements.  If you have unlicensed people managing projects, you have to be especially explicit about the requirement that project managers are familiar with these documents, because they may have no way of knowing, except through your guidance.  (Remember, they’re interns, working under your direct supervision, learning how to be the architects of the future.)

If you don’t demonstrate to your employees the importance of these documents, some of them may never understand that they are contractually obligated to perform the exercises required by these documents! 

Attitudes about the importance of following through on contractual obligations come from the top.  The attitudes of the principals shape the company culture of the firm.  Do you want your firm to be known for following through on obligations?  Or do you want your firm to be known for having employees who aren’t sure what the firm’s obligations actually are?

A Note on “C.A.” – Administration of the Contract

We architects throw around the acronym C.A. pretty casually.  We all know it means the work that we do during construction of the building we designed.  But some of us think it means “Construction Administration.”  I used to think that, until I started paying better attention to contracts.  

AIA A201-2007 General Conditions of the Contract for Construction, refers to these services as “Administration of the Contract.”  The services architects provide during construction constitute “Construction Contract Administration.”  So, really, C.A. stands for “Contract Administration,” NOT “Construction Administration.”  As Ron Geren pointed out in an excellent blog post a few months ago,  http://specsandcodes.typepad.com/specsandcodes/2011/06/construction-administrationor-is-it.html the term “Construction Administration” really could be interpreted as meaning something more like “Construction Management” than “Administration of the Contract.”

Melissa Brumback’s post this morning prompted me to respond.  Except for the use of the term “Construction Administration,” her article is good, and has good advice for architects.  Check it out: http://constructionlawnc.com/2011/11/03/construction-administration/

 

“Architect” Magazine Actually Asks “Does Licensure Matter?”

I got my “Architect” magazine in the mail today (you know, “The Magazine of the American Institute of Architects”).  There’s an article called “The Problem with Licensure” or “The 50-Year-Old-Intern” that is all about “… a decline in registered professionals…  And should we care?”

Outrageous. 

Here’s a link to the article: http://www.architectmagazine.com/architects/the-50-year-old-intern.aspx  It’s about the so-called “philosophical debate” about whether licensure matters.  It matters.  

Without licensure and regulation by the states, the public has nothing reassuring them that people practicing architecture are qualified to do so.  The Colorado Revised Statutes state that the regulatory authority of the Colorado state board of licensure for architects “is necessary to safeguard the life, health, property, and public welfare of the people of this state and to protect them against unauthorized, unqualified, and improper practice of architecture.” 

Without architects’ professional liability insurance, their clients don’t have much recourse in the case of errors and omissions by an architect.  When I obtained my architect’s professional liability insurance in the state of Colorado, the first question my agent asked me was whether I was a registered architect in Colorado.  I told him that I am, and he said, good, because you can’t get insurance without being licensed

This is telling.  The stuff that floats to the top when the lawyers and the insurance companies get involved tells us that licensure matters to the public, licensure matters to the governments, licensure matters to the courts, licensure matters to the insurers, and licensure matters to sophisticated clients.  And it should matter. 

Ron Geren’s recent blog post, “Towards a More Irrelevant Architect” http://specsandcodes.typepad.com/specsandcodes/2011/10/towards-a-more-irrelevant-architect.html touches on this issue when he says:

“In an effort to protect its members, and the profession in general, from undue risk, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) inadvertently reduced the influence of the architect by minimizing the liability to which the architect may be subject.  This shirked risk was quickly snatched up by other members of the construction industry—namely by contractors and members of the growing construction management profession.” – Ron Geren

Risk is often carried by the people who are willing to be grownups, and risk is often shirked by those who are less willing to step up and take responsibility for their own actions (like, well, children).  Remember that whole risk-reward thing?  When architects are willing to take more responsibility for their own actions, they’ll have more freedom, and will earn more respect. 

Architects, we need to protect ourselves.  But we don’t do it by ducking responsibility, and we don’t do it by having the magazine that is the so-called voice of our primary professional organization practically condoning design professionals’ remaining unlicensed. 

First, architects need to have very good agreements.  Don’t sign Owner-Architect agreements that have the potential to screw you over.  

Second, architects need to have very good construction documents.  Don’t issue bad documents.  Have good drawings, have good specs, have coordinated documents.  If you have interns doing most of your drawing production, review carefully before those documents go out with YOUR stamp on them.  

Third, architects need to have very good insurance.  (Oh, yeah, and you need to be LICENSED to get that.) 

Then work hard.  Do your best.  And encourage your employees to follow in your footsteps and get licensed.  Maybe you can’t give them raises for getting licensed, but at least give them verbal encouragement to take their exams, and praise them when they pass all of their exams.  We are in this thing together, and the interns are the future of our profession.  And interns need to be on a path to licensure!!

Specifying Masonry

Last Wednesday, I was part of a panel discussion at the Rocky Mountain Masonry Institute (RMMI).  We discussed “Specifying Masonry.” 

I was there to be the “put the info in the right place” person on the panel, and I learned a lot from the other panel members:  Diane Travis of the Rocky Mountain Masonry Institute, David Eatherton of Eatherton Masonry, Jay Retzko of Boral Best Block, and Brad Olson of Acme Brick.

Here’s the link to download a copy of my “Specifying Masonry” reminders hand out: http://www.lizosullivanarch.com/uploads/LizOSullivanSpecifyingMasonry.pdf

One of the things that I stressed in this panel discussion is that when architects need information on the masonry products that they’re designing with, they should contact the technical reps for those products.  The reps know more about their products than anyone else could be expected to know.

And for technical assistance beyond the masonry products themselves, architects can contact RMMI’s technical director Diane Travis at dianet@rmmi.org.

Architects can get AIA continuing education credits for attending the Rocky Mountain Masonry Institute Take-Out Talks, which are at 11:30 a.m. on the first and second Wednesday of each month, at RMMI, 686 Mariposa Street, in Denver.   Rocky Mountain Masonry Institute’s website is www.rmmi.org.

 

 

 

Hey, Architects, When It’s in the Specs, It’s in YOUR Contract, Too!

Architects, if your agreement with the Owner includes construction phase services, you are contractually obligated to administer the contract for construction according to the procedures defined in the agreements, the conditions of the contract for construction, and the specifications!

A commonly used Owner-Architect Agreement, AIA Document B201-2007, Standard Form of Architect’s Services: Design and Construction Contract Administration, states,

“The Architect shall provide administration of the Contract between the Owner and the Contractor as set forth below and in AIA Document A201-2007, General Conditions of the Contract for Construction.” – from Article 2 of AIA Document B201-2007

So that leads us to look at AIA Document A201-2007, which states,

“The Architect will provide administration of the Contract as described in the Contract Documents…” – from Article 4 of AIA Document A201-2007

Remember:

“The Contract Documents…consist of the Agreement, Conditions of the Contract (General, Supplementary and other Conditions), Drawings, Specifications…” – from Article 1 of AIA Document A201-2007

So, you know all those sections in Division 01 that say things like Architect will review each submittal…” “Architect will review each RFI…” “Architect will request additional information or documentation for evaluation within one week…”  Those are things that you are contractually obligated to do, because they’re part of your contract with the Owner.

If things get really bad on a project, and you end up in litigation, the lawyers will ask YOU, the Architect, “Did you request this?  Did you review this?” etc.  If you didn’t do the things that the specifications indicated that you would do, you could be in trouble.  The attorneys working to protect the interests of the General Contractor will do everything they can to shift blame away from the General Contractor.  That’s their job.  Don’t make it any easier for them than it needs to be!

Know, understand, and follow through on your obligations for procedural and administrative processes during construction contract administration.  Start by reading the agreements, the conditions of the contract, and the specifications!

 

If It’s in the Specs, It’s in the Contract

I’m going to say it again:  If something is required by the Specifications, it’s required by the Contract

A procedure or item specified in the Specifications is part of the Contract, just as much as if the procedure or item were specified in the Agreement.  (The Agreement is what many people usually think of as the “Contract,” because it’s the particular document that gets signed by the Owner and the Contractor, and it has the Contract Sum indicated in it.  But the Agreement is only ONE PART of the Contract.)

The Contract is made up of the Agreement, the Conditions of the Contract, the Drawings, the Specifications, etc.  AIA Documents state this requirement most clearly; Owner-generated Agreements and Conditions of the Contract sometimes fall short of being explicit about this.  (This is one of many good reasons to use AIA Documents instead of Owner-generated documents.)

This requirement is SO IMPORTANT that it makes up ARTICLE ONE of AIA Document A101-2007 (Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Contractor where the basis of payment is a Stipulated Sum), a very commonly used Agreement.

“The Contract Documents consist of this Agreement, Conditions of the Contract (General, Supplementary and other Conditions), Drawings, Specifications, Addenda issued prior to execution of this Agreement, other documents listed in this Agreement and Modifications issued after execution of this Agreement, all of which form the Contract, and are as fully a part of the Contract as if attached to this Agreement or repeated herein.”  – from Article 1 of AIA Document A101-2007

I don’t think I can say this any more clearly. 

But somehow, there are a number of Contractors out there who don’t seem to realize that the Specifications are part of the Contract, and there are even a few Architects out there who don’t seem to realize that the Specifications are part of the Contract that they are supposed to be administering during construction.  An Owner agrees to pay a Contractor a certain sum, the Contractor agrees to provide the Owner with certain things indicated by the Drawings and Specifications and other Contract Documents, and, in a separate Agreement, the Architect and the Owner agree that the Owner will pay the Architect a certain sum, and the Architect will administer the Contract between the Owner and the Contractor.  We all have contractual obligations during construction, and we all need to understand, and follow through on, all of those obligations. 

Remember, if it’s in the Specs, it’s in the Contract.

Contracts, and My Hope for the Day

I hope that today is the last day in my life that an architect-client of mine tells me that the Contractor will not be providing the project record documents required by the project specifications because the requirement to provide record documents “is not in their Contract.”

Remember, per AIA Document A201-2007, (which is the General Conditions of the Contract that I most frequently work with) the Contract Documents “consist of the Agreement, Conditions of the Contract (General, Supplementary and other Conditions), Drawings, Specifications, Addenda issued prior to execution of the Contract, other documents listed in the Agreement and Modifications issued after execution of the Contract.”  Specifications are part of the contract.

For more of the basics like this, check out my informational website, www.specificationsdenver.com

To better days!

“Well, If It’s Not on the Drawings…”

Recently, I was preparing a masonry spec section for a remodel project.  The project has an existing CMU wall which is to receive a small area of new CMU infill.  It’s an exterior structural wall, and the architectural drawings indicate that the infill CMU is to be grouted solid. 

I asked the structural engineer if we need reinforcing bars (rebar) in the cores of the CMU, and I told him that I would delete rebar from the spec section if we don’t need rebar, so that the Contractor knows he doesn’t need to provide it. 

The engineer said, “You can just leave it in the specs.  If the rebar isn’t on the Drawings, they’ll know they don’t need it.” 

NNNOOOOOOOOoooooooo…..!!!!! 

“Drawings and Specifications are complementary and what is called for by one shall be as binding as if called for by both.”  This is according to the General Conditions of the Contract for this project.  This is a typical provision in construction contracts.1 

So, if rebar isn’t required for that wall, there should be no rebar in the spec or on the drawings.  If rebar is in the specs, even if it’s not on the drawings, rebar is required by the contract.  If rebar is on the drawings, even if it’s not in the specs, rebar is required by the contract. 

Design professionals need to completely comprehend this concept, and for some unknown reason, many don’t.  Contractors need to completely comprehend this requirement, and for an understandable reason (it’s not in their best interest at times) they don’t always seem to grasp this.

The lead design professional on the project, the entity who is performing construction contract administration, is the party who must enforce the contract documents, including the specifications.  This party has to understand the relationships among contract documents before he or she can properly enforce them.  If the specifications and drawings have been prepared to be complementary, and are clear, concise, correct, and complete, they will be easy to understand (for all parties) and easy to enforce.

I’ve said this before, on my informational website, www.specificationsdenver.com :

“Unless the design team intends for something to be included by the contractor in the project, it shouldn’t be in the specs (or drawings).  There shouldn’t be a bunch of things in the specs ‘in case we need them’ if we don’t actually intend for them to be in the project, because by doing that, we’ve taken the first step to our documents’ not being taken seriously by the contractor.  If there is extra information in the specifications, the contractor will assume that the specifications are boilerplate specifications that are reused on all projects, and are not specific to the project, and will ignore all the specifications. 

“Also, the architect should enforce the provisions of the specs and the agreement and the conditions of the contract, or else these documents won’t be taken seriously.  We have to say what we mean, and prove that we mean what we say.”

If the contractor starts ignoring the specifications, the architect or engineer who’s doing construction contract administration will have a much harder time trying to enforce the specs.  When the specs include a lot of inapplicable things, the contractor will start ignoring the specs, because guessing at the intention of the specs, or constantly asking about the intention of the specs, will be a waste of the contractor’s essential time.  (Of course, the contractor is usually contractually obligated to ask for clarification in the case of conflicts in the documents, but it’s not fair for design professionals to knowingly issue documents with conflicts.) 

So, architects and engineers, remember that the drawings and specifications are complementary and what is called for by one is as binding as if called for by both.  Enforce this during construction! 

And, architects and engineers, don’t put extra stuff in the specs!  It wastes your time and the contractor’s time during construction, and it may waste the owner’s money.

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Notes:

  1. AIA A201, The General Conditions of the Contract for Construction, indicates that the Contract Documents consist of “the Agreement, Conditions of the Contract, Drawings, Specifications, Addendaet cetera.  AIA A201 goes on to say “The Contract Documents are complementary, and what is required by one shall be as binding as if required by all…”  (AIA A201 is used on most of the projects I work on.) 

Ummmm, What is He Thinking? AIA chief economist Kermit Baker suggests that architects should do what they do best—design—and hire paraprofessionals to do the rest.

This month’s Architect Magazine has an article about using design “paraprofessionals,” written by the AIA’s chief economist, Kermit Baker. 

“AIA chief economist Kermit Baker suggests that architects should do what they do best—design—and hire paraprofessionals to do the rest. Try it. Your profitability might just skyrocket.” 

http://www.architectmagazine.com/business/add-a-layer-the-case-for-paraprofessionals.aspx

I think Mr. Baker is misguided, or misunderstands how our profession works.  Here’s my response, which I posted on the website.

“In this scenario utilizing paraprofessionals in architecture firms, who would train the interns?  What would they learn?

“Since interns who want to become licensed someday have to work under the direct supervision of licensed architects, what would they be learning if the licensed architects aren’t doing anything technical?

“The best way to learn how a technical detail is supposed to look is to draw that detail from scratch.  If interns never learn that, we would be very, very poorly training the future leaders of the firms.  What we are licensed to do is to design safe and sound buildings.  We are not licensed to just design whatever we want. A good start to designing safe and sound buildings is to understand building technology.  We are not training architecture students in building technology in architecture school, and if we stop training interns in building technology, we are headed for much tougher times for the profession.”

Medical students receive 2 years of clinical training, working in hospitals, while they’re in medical school, before they graduate as M.D.’s.  Architecture students have no official training working in architecture offices while they’re in school, but they don’t graduate as Architects.  They go to work as architectural interns after they graduate.  They receive their training on the job, before they’re allowed to sit for their licensing exams and, if they pass their exams, become Architects.

In school, we do not train architecture students in what they need to know to become licensed.  If we quit training them them in technical matters on the job, how will they even become licensed?  And if they do become licensed, how will they be able to oversee the paraprofessionals working for them, if they actually have no technical understanding themselves?  Who will do the construction contract administration?  The licensed architects are the ones who need to seal the drawings and specifications.  The licensed architects are the ones with the professional liability and obligation to design safe and sound buildings.  That’s what they are licensed to do.   

It’s not all about profitability.  Unless the system of architectural education and training completely changes, architects have an obligation to train interns in practical and technical matters.  We can’t shift that responsibility to paraprofessionals.  Soooo… if we have paraprofessionals doing the work that interns and young architects usually do, why would anyone hire an intern?  And if there are no interns, who will be the architects of the future?