Get to Know NCARB President David L. Hoffman

In June, Kansas architect David L. Hoffman, FAIA, NCARB, Hon. FCARM, was installed as NCARB’s FY19 president. Over the next year, he will lead the organization through our Centennial Celebration and a refreshed Strategic Plan. We caught up with President Hoffman to discuss his passion for architecture, the importance of volunteering, and his vision for NCARB’s future.

What inspired you to become an architect?

My history with architecture began when my parents gave me my first box of Tinkertoys. My hometown of Mason City, Iowa, is also an enclave of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, which I was constantly exposed to on my paper route. Ever since then, I've had an interest in structures, art, and physics. I originally attended Iowa State University to study aerospace engineering. After some soul-searching, I switched into architecture, and it's absolutely been the best decision I ever made.

Why was earning a license early in your career important?

There was never a discussion amongst my peers about not earning a license. Licensure gives you the freedom and opportunity to do what you wish, own a firm, or pursue licenses in other states. Three years after graduation, I took and passed the exam, and have enjoyed and benefited from being licensed ever since.

You’re supervising several licensure candidates at your firm. Why is mentoring the next generation of architects so critical?

We currently have 10 employees who are on the path to licensure, and as part of our weekly management coordination our supervisors review their progress. Sooner or later, the older architects are going to leave the profession, and the younger architects will be in high demand. It's critical that the next generation has the ability to have firm ownership, take on added responsibilities, sign contracts, and be able to legally represent the firm.

I really enjoy sitting down with our younger professionals to discuss what their goals are, where they are in their process, and how we can help them earn Architectural Experience Program® (AXP™) hours. Being able to pass along experiential knowledge is a great a feeling. We celebrate licensure in Kansas, by presenting licenses to our new architects in the State Capitol Dome, and believe me, the whole community is proud.

How did you first get involved with NCARB, and why do you continue to volunteer?

Volunteering is giving back, plain and simple. Shortly after being appointed to the Kansas State Board of Technical Professions, I volunteered and was selected for the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) Item Writing Committee. Most architects don't give a second thought to how the ARE is developed and maintained; they don’t consider how regulation affects the profession once they’re licensed. In my case, I see NCARB as the most important vehicle for maintaining the legitimacy and validity of our profession, in the architect’s effort to protect the life, health, and safety of the public.

To me, volunteering is critical. I think I'd be lost without having that feeling of contribution. Once you start writing for the examination, you begin to realize how NCARB impacts so many different areas in an architect’s practice. The spectrum of volunteer activities became much wider, and I saw other opportunities to give back—and that's what I did.

You’re licensed in 29 jurisdictions. How has having an NCARB Certificate benefited your career and firm?

The NCARB Certificate plays many valuable roles. I originally applied for the Certificate to facilitate obtaining a reciprocal license. Beyond that, using the “NCARB” credential behind your name tells clients that you have the ability to practice throughout the country. It’s especially helpful in completing continuing education requirements at no cost; in our firm, we have to keep track of the CE needs of our architects who hold over 100 licenses. NCARB plays a significant role in making all of this possible and easier.

NCARB is celebrating its Centennial in 2019. Why is it important to look back on the organization’s history?

Our profession goes back much further than NCARB’s 100 years, but we can point to so many accomplishments and milestones. You’ve got to have a sense of what you've done, where you've been, and what your predecessors’ motivations were to move forward. If you don't reflect on your history, you're basically driving blind. You need to have that foundation to plan for the future.

In addition, we’re going to be celebrating the people who have helped shape the organization. There are individuals who have volunteered decades of their time to grow and develop NCARB’s programs. A lot of the volunteers I work with feel that they can point to something that says, "This really makes a difference." All of the work we’ve done over the past 100 years has had an impact on the profession—and to have been a part of that is probably the ultimate accomplishment.

Where do you want to see NCARB go next?

First and foremost, NCARB is the bedrock of the profession. Our role is to have a solid examination, maintain the process for reciprocity, monitor regulation, and be a service to our Member Boards. However, the organization’s role is expanding, and I'm very happy to say that as time goes on, we're being drawn to roles that we have traditionally not played. I hope we continue to improve our programs, make sure that architects have the opportunities they need, and respond to the needs of our Member Boards. I have been amazed at the energy and interest I have seen getting ready for NCARB’s next chapter.