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DesignMind: A New Path to Architecture Licensure

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Published on:

August 1, 2016


DesignMind: A New Path to Architecture Licensure

NewSchool is part of something revolutionary.

Starting this fall, NewSchool is launching its Integrated Path to Architecture Licensure (IPAL) program, which provides students with the opportunity to graduate and obtain architecture licensure in an accelerated manner, saving time and money, while also obtaining a strong education and valuable, real-world experience.

Many architecture schools are so focused on history, theory and schematic design that they don’t get into the necessities of practice. They tend to gloss over them. Architectural media love to publish beautiful drawings and models, but they don’t talk about what it means to be an outstanding spec writer or cover a fuller picture of what it means to be an architect. Students can get a warped view of architectural practice.

Since the early ’90s, I have been talking and writing about the drift away from professional preparation. Most recently, I discussed it as part of a panel at the 2016 American Institute of Architects (AIA) convention in Philadelphia.

As educators, we must bring internships and education together in the architectural curriculum. That is why I’m excited that NewSchool of Architecture & Design is one of 14 architecture schools that are the first to participate in the Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (IPAL) created by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, which regulates the licensing and credentialing of architects. We are also one of only two institutions in California to offer IPAL at the graduate level.

This integrated path places students in real-world situations through paid internships with our industry partners as part of the curriculum. It also allows them to take each of the six parts of the licensure exam while they are still in school with the goal that at graduation, they are licensed architects. Without it, the average age of a person who gets architectural licensure is 33.

This matters because licensure not only makes architects more employable more quickly, it gives them freedom to do more diverse and interesting work, moving from one firm to another, if they desire, with ease. It also decreases the cost of their education and allows them to work half- or full-time in paid internships, which helps them graduate with a firmer financial foundation.

At NewSchool, we already have a tradition of teaching our studios later in the day so students can work in the morning. We also have strong relationships with employers who can give us critical information about intern performance, which helps influence how and what we teach. The most important thing these additional real-world opportunities will give students is a more realistic and well-rounded understanding of—and joy for—what it means to be an architect. It also means they’ll discover early on which part of the field they are most passionate about.

Maybe that’s not so revolutionary after all.

What do you think about the Integrated Path to Architecture Licensure?