09 Oct 2017

ARE — The Turnstile

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You flagged the day in your calendar, booked the flight, reserved the hotel room, procured transportation … all in time for the big game. On game day, you packed your bag, but you aren’t there yet. You outfitted your game gear, but you aren’t there yet. You arrived at the stadium, but you’re still not there yet. The scheduling, the transportation, the gear and even the arrival is all preparation, it’s hype, but you aren’t there yet. The hype becomes reality the moment you traverse the turnstile and enter the stadium. The experience is no longer hype, it’s reality. The passage through the turnstile makes the experience real. In the architecture world, the Architectural Record Exam (ARE) is game day and the beginning of the professional experience.

To Peers:

What should the ARE mean to peers? First of all, congratulations to us because we satisfied the requirements (accredited degree, relevant internship and competency exam) to practice architecture; however, it doesn’t matter whether we passed or aced the exam. The ARE is a test of minimum competence. A higher score doesn’t make us a better architect or even a good architect. We don’t earn an extra badge to attach to our seal or an elevated title to express architectural dominance. Passing the ARE is a milestone but the event doesn’t prepare us for challenging sites, disgruntled clients, broken schedules or frivolous lawsuits. The architect’s seal we earn gives us a license… the privilege… to practice and improve our skills so we can cope with challenges while maintaining public safety, health and well-being. Every experience before and after the ARE makes us better architects, but a passing ARE is a good start.

To Clients:

What should the ARE mean to clients? Clients should know that a person earns the title “architect” and a license to practice architecture after fulfilling education, experience and testing milestones. The ARE is the testing milestone that separates pretenders from contenders. Designers and even architectural students may offer similar services (possibly illegally) but often lack the skills architects gain from professional practice. When interviewing architects, verify an architect’s credentials on the state board website. The database reveals the architect’s license status (active, emeritus, revoked, surrendered). Non-architects have no record and cannot practice architecture. The distinction between architect and not-an-architect is immense. Experience, credentials, service and knowledge vary greatly. At least, when you interview licensed Architects you know all Architects meet the requirements to handle your project. Every client deserves the experience, skill and credentials architects obtain preparing for and passing the ARE.

To Manufacturers:

What should the ARE mean to manufacturers? Nothing, because all manufacturers want is for architects to specify their products! But, I want manufacturers to be aware, or even impressed, that an architect makes product decisions based on the knowledge gained from product reps and continuing education courses (health, safety, welfare, sustainability, energy and ADA) required of every state where (s)he holds an architecture license. Our internship requires us to earn 2900 hours in design, documentation and construction observation where we research, select and observe your products in real-world projects. The seal displayed on our documents indicates we completed the initial requirements (the ARE) to specify and maintain those credentials with continuing product education.

The ARE matters. It matters to architectural peers because they recognize the effort required to qualify as an architect. It matters to clients because they deserve an experienced professional who exhibits competency. It matters to manufacturers because they covet educated professionals to select and specify building products. The ARE is a looming milestone at the beginning of an architect’s professional career. The big game begins when the architect passes the ARE turnstile. Welcome to Architecture!

Architalks Credits

This is another entry in Bob Borson’s blogging brain-child titled, “ArchiTalks”.

The #ArchiTalks goal is to inspire blogging architects with similar educational and professional requirements to opine on the same topic and simulpost their response so other architects and a broader audience can enjoy the rampant thought-diversity within the architecture profession

Select the links in “Architalks Entries” below to read how architects responded to the “ARE” topic.

image/video credits:

Architalks Entries

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
What is the Big Deal about the ARE?

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
what A.R.E. you willing to do 

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Take the architect registration exam, already

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
ARE – The Turnstile

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
I forget

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
The Architecture Registration Exam

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
What is the Benefit of Becoming a Licensed Architect?

Kyu Young Kim – J&K Atelier (@sokokyu)
Every Architect’s Agony

Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
To do or not to do ?

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Test or Task

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Passing the Test

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Part 3!

Ilaria Marani – Creative Aptitude (@creaptitude)
How to Become a Licensed Architect in Italy

Jane Vorbrodt – Kuno Architecture (@janevorbrodt)
Seven Years of Highlighters and Post-it Notes

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About the Author


Your Architect is Eric Faulkner — an architect licensed in Texas & Oklahoma with 27 years experience in design, construction observation and life.