NCARB Emphasizes Its Commitment to Professional Conduct with Updated Guidelines

Culminating a three-year effort to review and strengthen the role of ethics in the regulation of architecture, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) refreshed its Model Rules of Conduct to emphasize its commitment to professional conduct. Approved by delegates at its 99th Annual Business Meeting, the updated rules serves as a national model that each board can adapt to ensure ethical practice among architects.

Workplace demeanor and professionalism in business relationships have moved to the forefront of national conversation. However, NCARB’s deep dive into the topic began in 2015 when then-president Dennis S. Ward, FAIA, NCARB, established an Ethics Task Force. Comprised of architects, attorneys, educators, and other volunteers, the task force was charged with reviewing the existing Rules of Conduct and determining how ethics could be featured in the relationship between architects, NCARB, and licensing boards.

“Among other issues, the task force referenced harassment as a focal concern,” says Ward. “It’s affirming to see that the ethical guidelines our volunteers have crafted over the past three years will help address the issues highlighted by current social movements.”

In addition to harassment, the refreshed Model Rules of Conduct lays out the obligation to report unethical conduct, a principle commonly accepted in other learned professions, such as law and medicine. The Rules also outlines the role that Architectural Experience Program (AXP) supervisors play in training future architects, and requires that supervisors maintain objectivity when reviewing experience reports.

“The Model Rules of Conduct serves as both a regulatory tool for licensing boards and a statement to all NCARB Record holders,” says NCARB CEO Michael J. Armstrong. “It has the potential to lift architecture to the same standards held by other professions.”

The document is designed to be adopted by licensing boards across the U.S., with language that is understandable, implemented with ease, and adapted as necessary. Accordingly, NCARB will continue to base any discipline of its Certificate holders on actions taken at the licensing board level.

In addition to the updated Model Rules of Conduct, delegates at the Annual Business Meeting also approved a realignment of the continuing education categories laid out in NCARB’s Legislative Guidelines and Model Law/Model Regulations. With this change, the categories that count toward health, safety, and welfare continuing education hours now align with the AXP and the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) 5.0 divisions.

The redefined categories reflect current trends and evolving technologies, and allow for modifications to keep up with changes in the practice of architecture.

Other updates approved at the Annual Business Meeting include eliminating the need for an Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA) for architects completing the Certificate Portfolio path (a savings of over $2,200), as well as several housekeeping edits to the NCARB Bylaws.

To learn more about NCARB and its Annual Business Meeting, visit online.

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