A house by Dreambuilder Custom Homes on the Street of Dreams
BY ROBERT NOBLES
There are no Architects involved in Street of Dreams homes, part of a larger fact of American homebuilding: that less than 10 percent of single family homes are designed by registered Architects. Yet on the Street of Dreams website, Facebook page, and printed guides, are listed the names "architects" associated with each home. (In many cases, after complaints were made to the Oregon Board of Architect Examiners, these have since been changed.) If someone instead searched the ORBAE website for these names, they would find that none are licensed Architects, and some have previous complaints of such false claims.
Architect is a protected title in the State of Oregon. Use of the title first became regulated in 1919 with the establishment of the Oregon Board of Architect Examiners. The board is responsible for ensuring that only individuals that attain a high standard of professional competence are permitted to use the title architect.
Being an architect in Oregon means that you have obtained a professional degree from a National Architecture Accrediting Board program, have completed the minimum 5,600 hours of training units in 16 distinct categories to complete the Intern Development Program, been certified by the National Council of Architect Registration Boards, completed the seven test Architectural Registration Exams, and have passed the ORBAE’s oral and jurisprudence exams.
It is an arduous process to become an architect, but it does not stop there. To maintain your title you must participate in continuing professional education classes to stay on top of new building technology, sustainability, and protection of public health, safety, and welfare.
The public spends most of its time in buildings that have a large effect on our health and happiness. Your home may or may not have been designed by an Architect, but your work surely was, your favorite shops and restaurants, and even your favorite outdoor urban space. Additionally 35-40 percent of energy consumption in the U.S. comes from buildings. There are few titles that require so much effort to attain because there are few professions that have so much potential to affect our lives. That is why it is a serious matter to use the title Architect when an individual that is not licensed by the ORBAE.
It is a slow time for the construction industry in general, and I am sure that the Home Builders Association works tirelessly with the Construction Contractors Board to get unlicensed builders fined and shut down. It is terrible that for the few people who are looking to remodel or build a new home, and possibly hire an architect, the HBA would instead direct them to unlicensed individuals portrayed as Architects. It costs Architects work, damages the profession's reputation, and could expose the public to great risks.
Robert Nobles is a Portland architect.