Why a license to practice architecture matters . . .
Since January of this year, 83 new architects were licensed in California! Bravo to all! Congratulations on an accomplishment well-earned! I know that we congratulate all of them and proudly offer a sincere formal welcome to our profession.
As the largest state by population California has over 20,000 licensed architects representing about 18% of all the architects in the United States. 81% of the licensees are residents of our state and 19% hold reciprocal licensees.
While only slightly more than half the architects licensed in our state are presently members of AIA California, we aspire to be the voice of all fellow professionals licensed here and to be an invaluable resource them all as demonstrated in our Board’s strategic goals and objectives:
Membership: Practice; Advocacy; Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; Climate Action; and then of course Licensure.
I think our wonderful colleague Tian Feng, FAIA, FCSI, President of the California Architects Board and District Architect-BART, has captured the essence of both the statutory mission and goals of CAB, and the shared value and merit with AIA CA of licensing, in his preface to the CAB Spring Newsletter 2022 Edition, Issue 1. He addresses mutual work and improved communication and outreach with schools of architecture, with candidates, licensees, consumers to serve pathways to licensure, continued education, and of partnerships with allied organizations in regulation for public protection. These are strategic objectives we share as licensed professionals and partner entities, one public and one non-profit:
At a time when we are compelled to examine the vitality of the profession and the changing role of architects in the business world as continued leaders in decision-making to guide quality planning, design and construction of the built environment, I would posit that we should seize this watershed moment in the life and history of our profession-in California, nationally and internationally-to also reimagine the relevance of a license to practice. This should start with a broad diversity of the students we cultivate and inspire to study, updating the content, approach, and value of a traditional architectural education to address cost-benefit and real-life vocational opportunities for students, consideration and support for non-traditional paths to licensing through experience and practice, and the breadth of career paths for where a license has continued value.
In our close partnership and shared mission with the California Architects Board, AIA California is working to cultivate and promote licensing and fully responsible practice. We are collaborating to deliberately advocate and support on behalf of the health, welfare and life safety of the public in our long-term work and advocacy programs. We have an ongoing dialogue between the president of each organization and its executive director, active interaction in our Board programs and CAB’s public meeting agenda for communications and regulatory compliance and in development of educational resources including continuing education. In our future work we would aspire to expand these programs across all areas of responsible practice, to gather information about our licenses and candidates’ diversity to enrich and enhance practice and service to the public and in all areas of performance stipulated in the Architects Practice Act, California Code of Regulations Business and Professions Code Division 3, Chapter 3, Section 5500 et seq: https://www.cab.ca.gov/act/
When I completed the 3-year M.Arch. at UC Berkeley I had a new degree, a new job, and a new baby. My husband was going back to school for his MPA on the GI Bill. It took me exactly 10 years to complete the licensing process, by which time I was in my 40’s with two small children and had already transitioned from traditional practice to a career in project management for job stability, a competitive salary and benefits and flexible work hours. The people who provided encouragement about the value of a license, mentorship, experience in all aspects or practice, reimbursement for some costs and paid time off for study, testing and family duties made a difference for me. The opportunities for candidates at that time for continued study over time enabled me to complete the requirements-which I might never have been able to do with stricter limits and shorter timelines for completion.
Let’s work together toward a continued relevant and robust future of our profession!
Our legacy as licensed architects is an investment in the value of a professional license to the quality of service to our internal and external clients, and to future generations of increasingly diverse graduates, aspiring architects, new licensees and practitioners, from all backgrounds and paths, and in all phases of their lives and work.
Rona Rothenberg, M. Arch. Graduation U.C. Berkeley with Sarah aged 6 months