Dennis S. Ward, FAIA, NCARB
2015–2016 NCARB President
2nd Vice President
1st Vice President
I was asked to serve on the South Carolina Board of Architectural Examiners in the spring of 2000, 17 years ago. Prior to that, I had helped initiate a new American Institute of Architects (AIA) component in our area, served as its president, and served as a director on the AIA South Carolina board. It was through that initial experience that I realized the impact of volunteering. At the time I thought that I would only be serving the architects of South Carolina, but while attending my first NCARB Annual Business Meeting I saw that there were so many other opportunities to make a difference on a national level.
Having a platform for a voice; associating with so many brilliant people who all wanted to make the profession better; meeting, encouraging, and discussing what works and addressing what didn’t; and seeing that your efforts have culminated in a stronger, more vibrant organization as well as profession.
When I first began with NCARB in 2000, it was known as a stodgy, slow-moving regulatory organization, adverse to change and reluctant to explore other possibilities. Through hard work and evolution, today NCARB is admired among its peers as a cutting edge, proactive, blue-sky thinking organization; promoting licensure through a variety of options that can be tailored to one’s personal life path. There is a mentality pervasive throughout the organization that welcomes the challenge of “what if” and creatively addresses the “how to.”
Each offered challenges and successes: the development and implementation of the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) 4.0, the restructuring of the old Intern Development Program (IDP) to the Architectural Experience Program™ (AXP™), and exploring new testing possibilities through the ARE Technology Committee. But I think the committee that was most challenging and rewarding for me was the Licensure Task Force, from which came the Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (IPAL) Program. For the first time, NCARB has developed a path to licensure that—while still requiring all of the elements of the traditional path—encourages overlap in a way that enables students to complete these elements prior to graduation. This is so important to our profession as there is no longer a “one size fits all” approach to licensure. Ambition, work ethic, family, socio-economical, and geographic challenges can all be impediments to the traditional path. We have now created options and choice, understanding that however one chooses to complete their education, experience, and examination requirements, they all have met the exact same standards, albeit through different paths and timelines.
First let me say how much I enjoy this opportunity. Working with the AIAS student leadership has assured me that the next generation of our profession is in great hands. For some time there has been a major disconnect between the AIAS and NCARB. AIAS had liaisons from the AIA and Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), along with representation on the AIA and ACSA boards. Students spent a great deal of their time engaged with educators, and the AIAS offices are located at the AIA. There was little contact and a lot of misconceptions about NCARB. Having a face and a voice for NCARB, and supporting one of their most visible programs, has been instrumental in showing that NCARB cares about their education and future beyond just obtaining a Record.
The Freedom by Design™ (FBD) program has been around for more than a decade. However, few AIAS chapters had the finances and mentoring required for a successful project. The NCARB/AIAS partnership included an initial $100,000 grant that is being utilized to provide grants to chapters to obtain construction materials, provide funding for additional AIAS staff to work specifically with chapters to ensure their project success, and to provide funding to record project successes and develop instructional material to aid future projects. In addition, NCARB has asked each Member Board to engage with their state programs to offer mentoring and support. This provides additional NCARB exposure and strengthens the relationship between the Member Board and the school. However, the successful growth of FBD is dependent on the engagement of the Member Boards and continued funding. We anticipate that this will be a multi-year, continuously evolving process.
I knew that we were busy during my year as president, but in looking back I am amazed at how much was accomplished. This is a testament to the dedicated volunteers and staff who all work so diligently to make things happen, and thanks to President Kristine Harding, NCARB, AIA, for continuing these initiatives and programs through her term.
Some of these initiatives began under previous presidents and continued under President Harding. This is a testament to a new approach where leadership works together to develop, initiate, and continue long-term programs that exceed their year as president.
This has probably been one of the most challenging tasks for me to date. Our current Model Law is difficult to read and more difficult to navigate. The Model Law Task Force was charged with reviewing our current Model Law and updating it. However, once we began a review, we determined that this was a great opportunity to initiate a complete overhaul. Our rules and regulations had no consistency. We spent the first year looking at what was no longer relevant and where there were gaps that did not address current definitions and the way we practice architecture today. We also reviewed the structure of comparable organizations’ model laws. We then took our rules and regulations and created buckets that could be re-organized for consistency. Gaps were identified and placeholders created. We then reviewed the Federation
of Associations of Regulatory Boards (FARB) Uniform Model Law used as a framework for numerous organizations and determined that the structure could also be utilized as a framework for our own.
This year we will begin with conversations between our task force and other NCARB committees, along with presentation discussions with a representative from the International Code Council (ICC). As you can see, the task force has already accomplished a great deal, but we still have much to do. This is too important of an opportunity to not take the time to explore every aspect. We will continue to move forward and keep the membership informed of the status of our work at appropriate intervals.
I hope that NCARB continues to explore possibilities, incorporates blue-sky thinking into all aspects, and maintains a constant review of all programs as they pertain to changes in the profession. It is important to keep up a dialog with our collaterals, but we must not be afraid to move forward without their support if it is best for the Council, our programs, and the profession. We have done an excellent job of becoming more proactive than reactive. I hope that we continue to understand that being a regulatory organization does not mean that we have to be an authoritative one. Choice and options should be considered as long as we maintain current standard and guideline requirements.
I plan to continue with the AIAS for the next two years and will serve at the pleasure of NCARB presidents in any capacity where they feel I might bring value. Most importantly, the Past Presidents Council is an underutilized group. I have had conversations with CEO Michael Armstrong and past presidents willing to explore possibilities of how our skills, knowledge, and experience might best serve the Council. Perhaps this will create other opportunities for further engagement. And of course, I hope to continue to attend Annual Business Meetings to join in the celebration of NCARB’s future successes.
Q & A
with Past President
Dennis S. Ward, FAIA, NCARB
In the Profession
Path to Licensure
Partners in Collaboration
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