MK Barr Journal

Earthly Wonder

The Architect Registration Exam (A.R.E.) is just another gated community.

UPDATE: They said that they weeded out thousands and all it took was a postcard. Apparently, I was approved by Washington State to take the test and they sent me a postcard that explained what MIGHT happen and that it was retroactive.  I’m pretty pissed right now and off to communicate with a lawyer about this. I guess I was supposed to have checked their website for something they could have emailed me about? Maybe a robo call?  Anything but a postcard that looks like they’re advertising something. I remember receiving something but it said that they were taking comments on it and NOT that it was actually implemented.  So there are thousands of applicants that think they can take the test but can’t, even though we were told we had 100 years to pass? I’m pretty pissed for all of those other people too.

Many of my friends don’t even know that I have been approved to take the Architect Registration Exam (ARE) for over 15 years (and probably don’t really care). I took one section that I knew would be the least hard of the 2 hardest categories for me just to find out what it was like, and did not pass. I didn’t expect to, although I had still hoped I would and studied for it, since it was for information purposes.

This shows a bit about the community bad & good: I was working with an architect as an interior designer and asked her if there were good books like the interior design exam (NCIDQ) had and she said no, even though she had just passed her exams. I then was at an AIA house opening and met an architect and he mentioned there were 2 sets of great books on the market. One of them was the same author as the NCIDQ books. Side note: I have taken and passed the NCIDQ and at the time, there wasn’t a ton on the internet. Then, I had another architect that I worked for tell me which ones to use as well. It was about 50/50 of the architects I asked that were honest about how to study for the exams. I started using it as a bit of a test after I realized what was happening.

I was approved to take the ARE because I had done so much in architecture by that time and my school counted for time served as well. Shortly after I was approved to take the test, they required proof that each candidate worked the hours under the licensed architect and had more schooling. I had worked those hours but didn’t have proof and didn’t have the schooling but had the experience. It didn’t really matter since I was grandfathered in.

Around 2010, I received a postcard saying that the ARE computers are going through a weird thing and to make sure that I check back and that my name is still on the list. I did that and then didn’t really think about it. Although, It did have a weird smell about it but I thought I was covered even though the guy was a little odd on the phone. Now jump to this past weekend: I go on the internet to check on it since I hadn’t checked or heard anything in so long. I was thinking of gearing up again to maybe take it and take it seriously since it’s such a commitment. The NCARB site says that if a candidate hasn’t taken the exam, pass or fail, by 2011, they have 5 years to do so, which sounds reasonable. They want to know that the candidates are serious and I can respect that, even though I thought I would be grandfathered in.  What shocked me was that it’s retroactive 5 years and I hadn’t taken the test in those 5 years. So that means in my case, I would have had to have taken the test in a non-existent window that I didn’t even know about? I have never received any information on that and I’m pretty sure this isn’t legal?

Frank Lloyd Wright -self taught

Frank Lloyd Wright -self taught Photo-Copyright Fair Use

The NCARB and ARE were created for a great reason, to make sure no architect accidentally kills anyone. Very smart reason and I believe in that strongly. Let me say that again, it is so NO ONE GETS KILLED, HURT OR MAIMED. It is currently, in my experienced opinion, to control how many licensed architects are in the field as well as keep the candidates out who didn’t study the “right” way. This is to support the large firms, licensed architect salaries, and universities in my opinion. Also, this explains the design phase as well. One can control how many people pass by changing the quantity of points needed. I’m NOT saying there shouldn’t be a design phase by the way, but more transparency. I remember it costing money to find out their thoughts on your exam but not sure how that works now. Food for thought-Notable Self-taught Architects

Other notable self-taught architects according to the website just mentioned:

  • Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Alexandre Gustave Eiffel
  • Philip Johnson

This all did happen when the economy went South, but wanting more money would mean they would want more candidates, right? So this reason doesn’t really explain what they did unless they are controlling the amount of competition, which also supports the gated community theory.

To be honest, I’ve wrestled with taking the test since it’s so expensive to not only take but to keep up if I wasn’t going to use it.  It’s a yearly fee plus each candidate has to have so many hours of approved and accredited classes to keep up, that are also expensive. Some large firms pay these fees but a small person like me has to cover it themselves. Does anyone smell gated community fees here as well? If you go to the NCARB site, each section is $210 to take, pass or fail and it’s ALL on computer. Hmmmmmm.

If you have less people taking the test (since they have been weeded out to stricter ego standards), you have to have the approved candidates take it more often and pay more for each section.

Ray & Charles Eames - self taught

Ray & Charles Eames – self taught Photo-Copyright Fair Use

I understand the need to want everyone to be hazed if you had gone through it yourself, but this is not serving anyone except a few chosen ones. This is why all of the AIA homes mostly look the same and why working for any large architectural firm seems like a sweat shop with bragging rights. Having less licensed architects means paying less to “project architects”.

I’m angry and relieved at the same time. I don’t have to have these terrible people in my head any longer but angry that I jumped through all of their hoops and have paper work to prove it, but still got screwed. Just so everyone knows, the approval form says I have until 2099 to pass the exam (which is a little freaky actually).

Ah well, such is being hazed to get into a gated community, get in, then get hazed again and kicked out of the fraternity for not going to the right schools, designing or looking like them. On a positive note, I only have to pay to get my NCIDQ interior design status back since I let it lapse. 😀

I’ll let everyone know what happens when I hear back from them….


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This entry was posted on January 2, 2015 by in o Architecture & Interior Design, o Musings and tagged , , , , , , .
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