Newsletter: May 2017
Category : Newsletters
The ABC’s of Firm Registration – Renew or Apply by June 30
The Louisiana State Board of Architectural Examiners has overhauled its firm registration requirements and increased fees, effective July 1, 2017. Firm license renewals are due by June 30 in order to not incur a late fee. Renewal forms can be downloaded from the LSBAE website: wwww.lsbae.com, under the forms tab.
Under the new rules, all architectural firms conducting business in Louisiana will now be required to register with the Board. Below is a listing of the firm categories.
Professional architectural corporations – a majority of stock must be held by Louisiana-licensed architects, and the Board must contain a certain number of Louisiana-licensed architects.
Limited liability companies – the firm must designate a full time active employee who is a licensed architect in Louisiana and whose primary occupation is with that company as the supervising professional architect.
Architectural-engineering corporations must designate one or more supervising professional architects who shall perform or directly supervise the performance of all architectural services by the corporation, and designate a supervising professional engineer who shall perform or directly supervise the performance of all engineering services by the corporation.
Architectural firms – This NEW category covers any entity lawfully organized under Louisiana or any outside state’s law. For example, if you have a business license for your firm in your home state, no matter what kind, you must now get a certificate of authority to practice architecture from the State of Louisiana.
Partnership and Limited Liability Partnerships – If you practice as a partnership or a limited liability partnership, you will need to register your firm and obtain a certificate of authority from the board.
Sole proprietorships – If you are a sole proprietorship practicing architecture in Louisiana under your name, you will not be required to obtain a certificate of authority from the Board. However, a sole proprietorship practicing under some name other than the name of an individual registered with the board is required to obtain a certificate of authority.
New firm fee structure in effect for June renewals
In-State Firms (firm is physically located in Louisiana)
Initial Registration Fee: $75 (used to be $50).
Annual Renewal Fee: $75 (used to be $50).
Delinquent Fee: $75 (used to be $50). Firms that have let their registration lapse are required to pay a delinquent fee AND their renewal fee.
Out-of-State Firms (firm is physically located outside La.)
Initial Registration Fee: $150 (used to be $50).
Annual Renewal Fee: $150 (used to be $50).
Delinquent Fee: $150 (used to be $50). Firms that have let their registration lapse are required to pay both the delinquent fee AND their renewal fee.
By Ronald B. Blitch, FAIA, FACHA, NCARB, LSBAE President
The LSBAE has a number of important initiatives underway that licensed architects and emerging professionals (more on that later) should be aware of:
In an effort to simplify firm practice in Louisiana, the board has adopted a new firm rule which will go into effect on July 1st. This new rule requires all architectural firms conducting business in Louisiana to register with the Board. If you currently hold a Professional Architectural Corporation, Architectural/Engineering Corporation and Limited Liability Company firm registration, you are not required to make any changes at this time. You will simply need to renew your registration before June 30th. See Page 1 for more information on the renewal/application process.
Firm fees have been at the same level since 1980 and are rising to $75 for in-state registrations, and $150 for out-of-state registrations. We are also raising the fees associated with reinstating a delinquent license. This split fee structure now aligns with our fee structure for individual registration. I personally practice in many other states, and Louisiana’s fees are among the lowest in the nation.
AIA Intern Title Position Statement:
The AIA has issued a position statement that supports emerging professionals using the terms: “Architectural Associate” or “Design Professional” in their titles, as well as redefining the term “intern” to apply only to students currently enrolled in a NAAB accredited degree program and working in an architectural office. Unfortunately, the use of those titles in Louisiana by non-licensed architects is continuing. It is important to consider the statutory requirements when granting position titles to individuals working toward licensure. I personally have already seen resumes come in indicating “Design professional” as a job title being used by interns on the path to licensure. This applies not only to candidates in Louisiana, but to candidates across the country, as many jurisdictions have similar requirements with respect to pre-licensure titles. We will continue to keep our licensees up to date with any developments on this issue.
State Fire Marshall / LAPELS (Engineering Board):
The LSBAE has been in joint meetings with the Louisiana Professional Engineering and Land Surveying Board (LAPELS) and the Office of the State Fire Marshall (SFM) related to the issue of incidental engineering practice by architects. The Louisiana licensing law is clear on the definition of incidental practice, but the LAPELS Board has seen examples of plans submitted to the SFM for permits with, in their opinion, engineering exceeding the “definition” of incidental practice. We are working to identify a way to grant both LAPELS and LSBAE access to to plans submitted electronically to the SFM on a random basis to monitor this issue. This collaborative effort has raised the awareness of the need to educate plan reviewers at the SFM’s office on this matter. Similar discussions are being held with respect to civil engineers practicing architecture under the architectural law exemption. It is the desire of both boards to maintain access to appropriate records that will allow them to appropriately investigate claims of incidental practice of either architecture or engineering.
Architectural Education Research Fund:
After many years of studying how other state licensing boards support their architectural schools, the LSBAE has been meeting with representatives of Louisiana’s four NAAB Accredited Schools of Architecture to determine a fair and equitable process to fund school’s proposals to integrate education and practice in their institutions. This is being developed carefully and thoughtfully to support our schools and future professionals in the most productive and effective ways. Watch for more information about this exciting program!
New Licensing Advisor:
Our State Licensing Advisor, Jenny Chandela, AIA, NCARB, has been the LSBAE’s link to our schools of architecture and emerging professionals for over 4 years. Jenny and her family recently moved to the United Kingdom. She has done a wonderful job supporting and assisting students and interns on the path to licensure. We have posted an advertisement for her replacement and hope to interview candidates at our meeting in mid-June. We wish Jenny all the best and will miss her greatly.
Although our beloved Teeny passed away in December, a beautiful “Celebration of Life” service was held in Greenwell Springs on March 18th with many friends and Teeny’s family in attendance. NCARB was represented by Mike Armstrong, NCARB CEO, and Blake Dunn FAIA, 2014 NCARB President. We will all continue to miss Teeny.
Thank you all for your continued support of the LSBAE. We are currently updating our computer systems and automating many systems. The paper files of the LSBAE’s full history have all been digitized, and with the extra space available in our offices in Baton Rouge, we are working with our landlord to reconfigure some of the space to better serve our needs.
Thanks also to our new Executive Director Kathy Hillegas and Mary Porche, who have managed Teeny’s loss with hard work and extra dedication. Our goal and mission is to make the LSBAE the top licensing Board of all 54 in the US and its territories. The Board will hold a strategic planning session in the fall to outline our future and how we can best serve the architects practicing in Louisiana and professionals on the path to licensure.
Executive Director’s Report
By Katherine E. Hillegas, Executive Director
I can’t believe I’ve been with LSBAE for six months already! It has been a very busy time since starting last fall. I have enjoyed learning all I can to serve our architects, learning applicable rules and laws, meeting people, gathering information about critical initiatives and issues, and working in tandem with the Board to make licensure a seamless process in Louisiana.
We have also initiated several major projects at LSBAE in an effort to maximize our efficiencies and streamline our processes. These projects include implementation of significant changes to our firm licensure rules and fees (detailed on page 1 and our website). As mentioned previously firm registration is now upon us and you must renew your registration for the period July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018 by this June 30. Effective with this renewal cycle, we are no longer sending postcard reminders. All registered architects and contacts for firms have received several e-mail messages about the firm changes and reminders to renew. We also mailed a special newsletter outlining these changes in April.
Speaking of e-mail, please make a note that we have a new web address and have updated our e-mail addresses. Our new website address is www.lsbae.com. Staff in the office can now be reached at the following e-mail addresses: Kathy Hillegas: email@example.com; Mary Poche: firstname.lastname@example.org; Investigator Joe Holt: email@example.com. In addition, general questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. We have been actively using this account since April. Please make sure to add these addresses to your “safe senders” listing so that you receive notifications from us. In addition, significant effort has been placed on upgrading both computer software and hardware in the office.
We have also experienced a few internal changes. Holly Mooberry Mitchell has left as LSBAE’s licensing coordinator. I am currently assessing our staffing needs, and expect to begin the search for a new staff member soon. In addition, Jenny Chandela has resigned as State Licensing Coordinator to begin an adventure of living in another country. A search for her replacement is currently underway.
Finally, I would like to thank you for your patience as we work through these changes in order to better serve you. Louisiana has certainly been welcoming to this newcomer. I look forward to moving LSBAE forward, and enjoying the culture and people of this beautiful state.
Board Attorney’s Report
By Paul H. Spaht, LSBAE Board Attorney
Meaning of “sole proprietorship” in new rules concerning firm registration – As mentioned elsewhere in this newsletter, the new rules concerning firm registration will go into effect July 1, 2017. Professional architectural corporations, architectural-engineering corporations, and limited liability companies who have previously been registered by the board will not be required to do anything differently from what they have long done. However, the new rules make significant changes for entities such as partnerships practicing architecture in Louisiana, who will be required to register for the first time.
It is not surprising that a number of questions are being asked concerning the meaning or intent of the new rules. Questions are welcome and encouraged.
One of the questions most frequently asked has been the meaning of a sole proprietorship in the new rules. The new rules except sole proprietorships from firm registration. Specifically, one of the new rules (Rule § 1705.O) provides:
A sole proprietorship practicing architecture in Louisiana in the name of an individual registered with the board is not required to obtain a certificate of authority to practice architecture in Louisiana. A sole proprietorship practicing architecture in Louisiana under some name other than the name of an individual registered with the board is required to obtain a certificate of authority from the board.
The question being asked is some version of the following:
I am registered by the Architects Licensing Board of New York (or some other jurisdiction, including perhaps Louisiana). Pursuant to advice from my attorney, I have formed and am the sole owner and sole manager of a limited liability company (or the sole shareholder of a corporation). This LLC (or corporation) is registered in NY (or in some other state, including perhaps Louisiana). I have no employees. I have always considered myself a “sole proprietorship.” Will my LLC (or corporation) be required to register with the LSBAE as an architectural firm under the new rules?
Yes, your LLC (or corporation) will be required to register with the LSBAE.
Reason: A sole proprietorship is not a legal entity or juridical person. Rather, it is merely a designation assigned to a manner of doing business by an individual. It is often described as an enterprise that is owned and run by one natural person in which there is no legal distinction between the owner and the business entity. Under IRS rules and settled jurisprudence, if you are the sole member of a limited liability company or sole shareholder of your corporation, you are not considered a sole proprietorship.
Thus, the LLC (or incorporated entity) described above is not a sole proprietorship — it is an LLC (or corporation). There is a distinction between the individual and the entity. Further, even if a “sole proprietorship,” the LLC (or incorporated entity) would be practicing in Louisiana under some name other than the name of an individual registered with the board. For example, it would be practicing in Louisiana under the name “John Smith, Limited Liability Company,” not “John Smith.”
Advertising employees and personnel of an architectural firm – The Architects Licensing Law prohibits any person from using the title “architect,” or any term derived therefrom, or using any title, sign, advertisement, or other device to indicate that such person practices or offers to practice architecture, or renders architectural services, unless such person has registered with the board and received a license to practice architecture.
In describing the employees or members of an architectural firm, the registered and licensed individuals may, of course, be described as architects or as having architectural experience. However, employees who are not registered and licensed by the board (such as inspectors, draftsmen, managers, interior designers, engineers, etc.) may not be described on the firm website, firm brochure, or other firm literature as “Associate Architect,” or “Project Architect,” or as being “experienced in architecture,” or as having “comprehensive architectural experience.”
NCARB offers alternative path to completion of AXP for experienced professionals
As part of an ongoing effort to make the path to earning an architecture license more inclusive, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) is offering a new opportunity for experienced design professionals.
By completing an online portfolio, these individuals can use examples of their work to satisfy the Architectural Experience Program’s™ (AXP™) requirements. Through the AXP Portfolio, design professionals who put their licensure plans on hold for personal, financial, or other reasons can document experience that is older than five years by providing documented samples of past work. To complete the program, applicants must include examples for each of the key tasks identified by the AXP.
Developed by NCARB, the AXP is designed to guide emerging professionals through the process of gaining and documenting practical experience in architecture. To earn a license to practice architecture, most U.S. licensing boards require that candidates complete the AXP, and all 54 require some documentation of experience. Candidates must also meet their licensing board’s education and examination requirements.
“The AXP Portfolio ensures that the profession of architecture continues to move in a more inclusive direction, while still maintaining the rigor needed to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare,” said NCARB President Kristine A. Harding, NCARB, AIA. “We’re excited to open new doors for designers who want to continue to advance their careers.”
The standard method of completing the AXP requires reporting 3,740 hours of work experience, at least half of which must be gained while under the supervision of an architect. To earn full credit toward the requirement, licensure candidates must report hours within eight months, or up to five years back to earn half credit. The new portfolio method provides a licensure option for professionals with experience beyond five years.
Along with NCARB’s recently launched education alternative to certification, the AXP Portfolio is part of an ongoing initiative to offer advancement opportunities to licensure candidates and architects from all career paths.
Professionals interested in completing an AXP Portfolio must:
- Have a current supervisor who is an architect licensed in the U.S. or Canada, and willing to attest to their knowledge and experience.
- Have at least two years of experience from over five years ago, including at least one year of experience earned under the supervision of an architect licensed in the United States or Canada while employed by a firm engaged in the lawful practice of architecture.
State Architect Licensing Advisor Update
By Jenny Chaldela
This newsletter’s update is primarily focused on the recent launch of ARE 5.0, but it’s also a letter of farewell.
I had the pleasure of joining LSBAE in the position of State Architect Licensing Advisor during the summer of 2014. However, my family and I will be relocating, so I am stepping down as the board’s liaison. This creates an opportunity for someone new to take on the role with their own ideas and energy. I have immensely enjoyed serving the board as well as you – our future architects!
Now for my final newsletter article, I’d like to provide an update on NCARB’s recent transition to ARE 5.0. Since its launch last fall, NCARB has been working diligently with volunteers, it’s psychometrician, and the board to establish the cut scores for each of the exam sections. A cut score is the defined threshold at which a candidate has achieved the passing standard.
Establishing a new cut score for each division of ARE 5.0 ensures a fair assessment of all candidates taking the exam and maintains the validity of the results. The setting of cut scores is really important to the transition, as it signifies the final step. From this point forward, candidates testing under ARE 5.0 will receive their exam results within the standard turn around time.
For those of you who decided to continuing testing within the previous version of the ARE, keep in mind that you may elect to self-transition from ARE 4.0 to ARE 5.0; however, this is a one-time transition. Once you transition to ARE 5.0, you will remain testing in ARE 5.0 and cannot switch back to ARE 4.0.
NCARB will continue to administer ARE 4.0 until June 30, 2018. If you have not self-transitioned from ARE 4.0 by this date, you will be automatically transitioned to ARE 5.0. This 20-month period of dual delivery will enable current candidates to finish the exam in a way that best suits their needs.
Confused about whether to make the jump? NCARB has compiled comparisons as well as a transition calculator to help you make your decision. Visit the Transition section of their site to learn more.
For those of you who are already testing within ARE 5.0, there are a growing number of resources, which can also be accessed through the NCARB website in the Preparation section of their site.
The most important point to remember is that there is no “correct” path. The only right path is the one that works for you and helps you reach your personal licensure goals!
NCARB streamlines path to certification for architects withouth an NAAB accredited degree
The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) has launched the first phase of its revised certification path for architects without a degree from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). The NCARB Certificate facilitates reciprocal licensure among the 54 U.S. jurisdictions and several countries.
Through this alternative, architects licensed in a U.S. jurisdiction who hold an architecture-related degree can satisfy the Certificate’s education requirement by documenting two times the Architectural Experience Program’s™ (AXP™) requirements (7,480 hours). A separate certification option for U.S. architects without an architecture-related degree will launch in spring.
These education alternatives replace a previous option known as the Broadly Experienced Architect (BEA) Program, which cost $5,000 plus transcript review fees. Additionally, these revised paths will lead to a shorter evaluation process, and will be offered at no additional charge to active NCARB Record holders. The changes were adopted by a vote of the NCARB membership in June 2016 at its Annual Business Meeting.
“This revised path recognizes the value of the initial license and practical experience while maintaining a rigorous, yet inclusive, option for architects seeking NCARB certification,” said NCARB President Kristine A. Harding, NCARB, AIA.
U.S. architects interested in earning an NCARB Certificate through this path must meet the following requirements:
- Have at least three years of continuous licensure in any U.S. jurisdiction without disciplinary action.
- Hold a bachelor’s degree in an architecture-related program.
To learn more about the benefits of NCARB certification, visit www.ncarb.org/certification.
Board Investigator Report
By: Joseph J. Holt, Architect, Board Investigator
The role of the LSBAE is to safeguard life, health and property and to promote public welfare through regulation of individuals who practice architecture in Louisiana. The Board is responsible for establishing rules and regulations which licensed architects must follow in order to maintain an active license. All complaints received by the Board are fully investigated and considered by the Board’s Complaint Review Committee prior to Board action.
We thought it would be helpful to share with you the process that we undergo when a complaint is received by LSBAE. The following occurs:
- A copy of the complaint is sent to the individual/firm identified in the complaint (respondent) via certified mail, with a request for a written response.
- A phone call is placed to the complainant by the Board Investigator to discuss the circumstances of the complaint.
- A letter is sent to the respondent via certified mail itemizing any violations of Louisiana state laws and rules, and requesting a written response within 21 days of receipt.
- A phone call is placed to the respondent by the Board Investigator to discuss the circumstances of the complaint.
- After a response is received from the respondent, it is forwarded to the complainant for further comment.
When all of the above documentation plus any other relevant evidence has been collected, the Board Investigator presents it to the Complaint Review Committee (CRC), for its review and consideration. The CRC is tasked with reviewing the case information carefully and determining if there are any violations to the architects rules and regulations and ultimately, making a recommendation for appropriate action to the LSBAE Board. The CRC is composed of Board members, but those members will recuse themselves from voting on final actions taken by the Board.
Upon initial review of a complaint, the CRC may respond in many different ways which include but are not limited to, requesting further information from either the complainant or respondent, calling for a hearing, imposing a fine, or closing the case.
Recent Complaint Report
Over the past 16 months, 15 complaints were filed with the Board by private citizens and architects per the filing process explained on the LSBAE website (www. lsbae.com). All complaints have been investigated, with five being closed, and ten cases remaining open at this time. A majority of the complaints received were related to the proper use of the term “architect” or any derivation thereof. These complaints involved the following specific issues:
- Designers / other unlicensed firms and individuals practicing architecture and utilizing the word form architecture for themselves, their firm, or their services.
- Disgruntled clients of contractors whose business forms included the use of the word form “architect.”
- Architects notifying the Board of a licensed architect’s staff being promoted on their website by the job title “architect” or “associate architect,” when the staff member was not licensed.
- Unlicensed out-of-state vendors marketing their services in Louisiana utilizing a word form of “architect” on their website or other marketing materials.
Discovery that many web site business directories, including the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce (www.neworleanschamber.org/list/member/professional-designs-group-inc-6824) include a category “Architects & Planning,” whereby many unlicensed individuals and firms are listed.
In addition, there were complaints submitted by disgruntled clients of licensed architects.
Use of the Title Architect
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently updated their position statements to clarify the use of the title “intern,” “architectural associate” and “design professional.” In part, this statement states: “…AIA is not a licensing body and does not regulate titles along the path to licensure; therefore, it is up to firms to identify titles that are legal within their jurisdiction. The position statement is intended to guide firms and jurisdictions as they evaluate titles in the future and consider changes…”
Ms. Katherine E. Hillegas, CAE, Executive Director of the Louisiana State Board of Architectural Examiners, comments: “…The Louisiana architect licensing law defines ‘Architect’ as a person who is technically and legally qualified to practice architecture (R.S. 37, Chapter 3, §141, B(2)). That means someone who has met the education, experience and examination requirements for licensure and has received a license to practice from the Louisiana State Board of Architectural Examiners. Any use of the title architect or derivation of that word by an unlicensed individual is considered an infringement on the law.”
With respect to the title “Intern,” our rules allow use of the title “Intern Architect” for candidates who have completed a NAAB accredited degree program and are participating in or have completed the NCARB AXP (formerly IDP). Candidates must be employed by a firm that is lawfully engaged in the practice of architecture (LAC 46:1, Chapter 17, §1529). The caveat is that that title can only be used in connection with their employment with a firm.
The recommendations established by the AIA in their position statement are a direct violation of the Louisiana statute and rules. When position titles are granted to individuals working toward licensure, it is important to consider the statutory requirements and ensure that such titles do not violate the licensing law or Board rules, which restrict and limit the titles which may be used,” she said.
“I strongly encourage all Louisiana licensees, both in-state and out-of-state, to review the rules and regulations and the licensing laws available on the LSBAE website, www.lsbae.com,” she added.
LSBAE State Board of Architectural Examiners
Ronald B. Blitch
FAIA, FACHA, NCARB
New Orleans, LA
J. David Brinson
Baton Rouge, LA
John Cardone, Jr.
Lake Charles, LA
Richard J. LeBlanc
Knox H. Tumlin
AIA, NCARB, CSI
New Orleans, LA