Oppose the John O’Donoghue Bill

Life is rich, always changing, always challenging, and we architects have the task of transmitting into wood, concrete, glass and steel, of transforming human aspirations into habitable and meaningful space.
– Arthur Erickson

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while and John Cloonan ( http://archtech-ie.blogspot.com/2010/09/architect-by-grandfather-clause.html) with his excellent post stirred me into action.

Here’s my take on the John O’Donoghue Private Members’ Bill which wants to amend the Building Control Act.

In essence the Bill wants to amend the Building Control Act so that a person can be a registered Architect by the following:

1. Being at least 35 years old

2. Showing evidence of providing services commensurate with those of an architect in Ireland for a minimum of 7 years

3. Having a portfolio of work undertaken for quantitive verification during the minimum 7 years

4. Providing a sworn declaration of the above.

You will notice that there is no account of any educational qualifications, supervised practical experience and professional practice examination (which would be the standard way most architects would become registered in Europe (and indeed most countries in the world!). Nor is there any account of a technical assessment for those not having architectural qualifications but have worked as an architect which is an alternative way of becoming a registered architect in Ireland and already exists (apparently Holland is the only other EU country to have such a similar technical assessment).

Why is this Bill Amendment a problem ?

If the Bill goes through the following will happen:

* It will undermine consumer confidence and protection
* It will invalidate the existing register of Architects
* It will damage the reputation of Irish architects and architecture (you can forget about any Irish Architecture graduates getting jobs overseas)
* It discriminates against those who have worked and invested in a qualification and career in architecture
* It undermines the validity and acceptibility of all architectural qualifications in Ireland
* The Bill Amendment is for those unwilling to have their knowledge, skill and competence properly assessed.

There have been unfounded criticisms of the existing technical assessment procedure:

It’s not independent – Although the RIAI is the Registration Body, the responsibility for the technical assessment is with an independent Technical Assessment Board

It takes too long and is too demanding – The Technical Assessment can be done in as little as 4 months. Compare that to the 3 years degree, 2 years supervised practical experience, 2 year Postgraduate Diploma, Practical Experience Examination + Interview plus the interview and Part 3 Lecture series before I could register as an architect in Ireland !

It’s too expensive – The Technical Assessment has been investigated and audited by an idependent firm of Accountants experienced in forensic work and is the actual cost for the procedure.

It’s elitist – The technical assessment is open to all, is independent and does not disadvantage anyone in the process.

The bar is set too high – With the Bill Amendment there would effectively be no bar – this is not in the interest of the consumer.

It puts people out of business – The existing Act does not prevent anyone working in the field of architecture; the only control is over who can legally use the name ‘architect’. This restriction is completely normally in every European country.

What can you do about it ?

You can meet with your local senator and/or TD and explain the above situation and how the Bill Amendment will undermine consumer confidence and protection.

Comments welcome as always…

0 thoughts on “Oppose the John O’Donoghue Bill

  1. The Bill specifically requires evidence of establishment showing that the applicant for registration has provided services commensurate with those of an architect for 7 or more years.
    It doesn’t matter whether it says quantitative or not.
    It cannot be evidence of acting as a technician, a draughtsperson, or an undergraduate.
    If they can show they can do the work, what are you worried about?
    If they hold themselves out to be architects, they carry the same responsibility and the same liability.
    What you should be worried about is the growing number of architectural technologists that are around – architect-lite, not the same title or liability by the looks of things and undercutting prices in a catchment near you.

    1. I’m not bothered by architectural technologists, at least they have a form of academic qualification and experience as long as they don’t call themselves architects.

      The problem is the zero checking of the “architects” that will result of the Bill amendment. There’s a big difference between having a candidate technically assessed by a panel and a worthless piece of self signed paper.

  2. The Bill is self extinguishing, the day it is ratified it makes allowance only for Architects who have been in business for more than seven years. Other countries in Europe have included similar in their original legislation in consideration of the system that was in place before the Act.
    Some of these Architects are in practice for 20 & 30 years and came through their apprenticeships back in the day when getting into the one college in Ireland that run a course in Architecture for the rich kids of that time.
    As I said above the Bill is self extinguishing, no new faces can appear or register so if a practicing architect out there is only six years in business then he/she can’t register.
    Also another point you appear to have missed, this registration process run by the RIAI for ‘non-academically trained’ Architects is the most expensive registration process in Europe by multiples? Is the RIAI running a public sector like process here that it has to cost so much?
    Also in the registration process for ‘non-academically trained’ Architects, the applicant must have their application portfolio assessed by three riai architects who report their findings on to the registration board which consists of another three riai architects. How can someone who is in competition with an riai architect trust this system?
    The competition authority warned of this conflict of interest in 2003 and 2006 but which was ignore by the Government. They also recommended that a new independent body be set up to administer the registration process, similar to the SEAI.

    1. Hi Sean

      Many thanks for the comment, couple of responses:

      Agree mostly with what you say, I think the biggest mistake was not setting up a separate registration body as they have in the UK with the ARB.

      The cost is for effectively an assessment of seven years work – it’s not just an administration fee to register someone, nor is it a fee to take an examination. I’m happy to be corrected but as far as I know Holland is the only other EU country that has this assessment method for architects registration – all other countries require academic qualifications. The cost therefore (let’s take the UK as an example) for the final Part 3 is the cost of the examination (written,oral, case-study etc…) and then there’s the annual fee to keep yourself registered as an architect – the previous 5 years have already been assessed and the 2 years practical training have been logged and checked. Therefore the cost of this is obviously going to be a lot less than assessing seven years worth of work.

      My principle gripe with the proposed Bill amendment is that (if you read carefully) there’s no assessment whatsoever; you write a written declaration that you have done the work and nothing (again correct me if I’m wrong) is checked by any assessment panel. The Bill amendment is a ridiculous idea and concept.

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