AA architects: 2014 Licenses


At the end of 2014, there were approximately 1955 architects in the Directory of African American Architects.** For the year, 23 African American architects reported as newly licensed.

Year 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Men 37 33 22 20 15
Women 19 11 12 13 8
Total 56 44 34 33* 23

The number continues the downward trend that has been characteristic of the last five years. The organization that creates the architect registration exam (ARE), NCARB, has also seen an up-and-down rate, since 2009, of people completing ARE sections.

I asked some of my colleagues for their thoughts to get some other perspectives on the trend. There is optimism and celebration, and also some self-actualization.

I have mixed feelings about the low numbers. We as a community can and should do more in supporting candidates of color. The fact that I have mentored three of the newly licensed architects on the 2014 list and at least two more in 2015 makes me feel like NOMA [National Organization of Minority Architects] is helping an upward trend. For that I’m proud but collectively it takes a village!!!
Bryan W. Hudson- R.A., NOMA, AIA
Chicago, Illinois

Congrats and kudos to Bryan for mentoring architects toward the licensure process. It’s is much easier to do with a cheerleader/accountability coach/nag pushing you to get it done.

I wonder how that number correlates to the number of newly licensed women architects. I have this ambitious theory that there is going to be a surge of licensed AA members in the next 5 years. None of this thinking is substantiated, and is actually opposite of your numbers, but I can only hope that my absolute enthusiasm to become licensed is shared with my AA architectural peers. I think that it is. Also, the incorporation of the 5.0 exam may elicit this surging.
Devanne Pena, Assoc. AIA, NOMA
Austin, TX

According to the June 2014 NCARB by the Numbers report, 3,153 people completed their ARE in 2013. The report does not give a breakdown of gender for those completing, but it does say that about 35% of test takers were women. The report does not have any data on race or ethnicity.

The recent press on Public Interest Design has changed the potential pathway for many recent graduates to pursue jobs outside of traditional architecture firms.

The question will be, is the training at community design centers & Public Interest Design firms for these recent graduates the same, inferior or superior to traditional firms in preparing them to pass their licensing exams.
Prescott Reavis
Oakland, CA

Interns can now earn credit for volunteer service with organizations on NCARB’s Community-Based Design Center Collaboration list. This will give interns another vehicle to complete this step toward licensure. Many of these centers have architects on staff or as consultants who can help ensure interns are getting a quality experience.

I feel like I’m the reason why those numbers are so low. On the one hand, I encourage architectural professionals to get licensed, however, I’m unable to obtain licensure myself. The main reason is lack of motivation. My job doesn’t support me in the way I need supporting and the work/life balance hasn’t been mastered.
Melissa Daniel, Assoc AIA, NOMA
Washington, DC

I am sure so many people are in this boat. I was there. At some point, I just buckled down and did it. I started a Yahoo group with others who were also taking their exams. It may sound cliche, but we do “have to be the change we want to see.” Those numbers are not going to increase if we are sitting on sideline.

As I continue to mentor the next generation and cultivate their interest in architecture, I emphasize the value of an architectural education as a solid foundation that can support many other career choices. The more people we can get into the pipeline, the greater the opportunity to increase our numbers. If we are to be included among those who would create the legacy of our time in the built environment, we must be present and accounted for within the profession.
R. Steven Lewis, NOMAC, AIA
Altaden CA

This is why many of us continue to mentor, teach youth programs, cajole and nag those who are taking exams: we want to see more in the pipeline.

What are your thoughts on the statistics of licensed architects and its affect on the profession?

NCARB by the Numbers, trends of internship, exam, and licensure
Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture data & resources

Previous annual posts:
20132012 | 2011 | 2010

**Note: listings in the directory are self-reported and continuously updated. Check the website for current totals.

*Updated to reflect people that reported after March 2013.

10 Responses to “AA architects: 2014 Licenses”

  1. 1 Emily

    Reblogged this on architecture | equality.

  2. 3 M

    Reblogged this on MicheleCrawford and commented:
    The disparity seems so distant until you read something like this.

    • Hi Michele. That is one reason why I started doing this annually. I wanted to see the trend, show it to others, and motivate others who are on path to licensure.

  3. Katherine – Thanks for doing this work. I would also suggest looking at the pipeline. According to NAAB, there were 1,307 AA in accredited programs, 342 in candidate programs, and 311 in preprofessional programs – more than the current total. In 8-12 years, the total of AA should double if not more but how do we keep students in the pipeline.

    At Illinois, we have 8 new AA freshmen; I am doing what I can to keep them on the path; our NOMAS is somewhat active but the road ahead is long.

    Just some thoughts.

    • Lee, Thanks for reading and responding. I haven’t looked at the student data extensively. I now they have been increasing. Licensure is still a hurdle where we haven’t seen a jump in numbers. There is a fall off for all sorts of reasons.

  4. Yes, Katherine, Thank you for doing this work and making it relevant. There is a phenomenal STEM focus in the country at present and yet architecture is consistently left out of the conversation even though it is the best example of a discipline that incorporates every facet of STEM. Promoting architecture as a STEM career is important and I believe it will result in increased numbers of people of color in the profession.

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