"The following remarks are extracted from an address by Gordon Mills, president of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, which were delivered at the NCARB Annual Meeting and Conference in Chicago in June.
As I indicated in my opening remarks earlier this morning, I’m going to focus on two issues that I see coming down the road that I believe will be large on NCARB’s radar. The issues are responsible control and mobility of credentials. Neither issue is urgent today, but they are emergent. I believe that both are embedded in changes underway in practice and in society. Responsible control and mobility will surface as important issues that NCARB must address when the time is right. To address them successfully, it is important that NCARB be prepared. That preparation will come from analysis, study, and the continuation of the dialog that we have had over the past two years.
Why do I dwell on just these two issues and not others? NCARB always has much on its plate regarding integrated project delivery (IDP), the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), communications, education, and customer service. These programs will require continued diligence as we journey down the road. However, I believe the environment in which these things are developed and delivered is reasonably foreseeable for the next few years. At the same time, architectural practice is changing, and across the globe, economics and politics are playing a greater role in regulation. As these changes continue, they will demand a response from NCARB, a response that is both timely and appropriate if regulation is to remain a relevant and a valuable part of public protection.
First let me talk about responsible control. Saturday we will take up a resolution that is a by-product of some very good work by our Procedures and Documents Committee and their Integrated Project Delivery Task Force. The testimony they received in their hearing last October has resulted in a relatively modest change in our definition of responsible control. It is far less of a change than I expected would result when we established the Task Force last year. I do believe the revised definition as presented in the resolution is appropriate to where practice is at this time and place. There is real wisdom in the definition they produced. Through the hearings NCARB determined that integrated project delivery, with and without building information modeling (BIM), is in flux. Practice, on all sides -- client, architect, engineer, E & O insurer, product supplier, and contractor -- is feeling its way in to this method of delivery. What is in place today is not what will be in place tomorrow. What is happening in big firms is not necessarily what is happening in small firms. What is happening on some innovative projects is not what is happening on most projects. Practice with regard to this delivery process is still very much in flux.
I believe that the signs are very clear that practice is moving in the direction of integrated project delivery. Down the line I see it as the prevailing delivery method for projects that are big and small and used by firms that are both big and small. The advantages imbedded in a process are great. It has the potential to apply the talents of the entire team in project decision making at a much earlier time in the life of the project. It will win out for many reasons, but notable to me is the fact that that through deep planning early in the project life, both time and dollars will be saved. This can be done without sacrificing design or the health, safety, and welfare of the public.
What are the signs this transformation is underway? There are many. First, you only need to read our professional press such as, DesignIntelligence, Building Design and Construction, and Architectural Record to know that IPD has traction. Clients are asking for it because they’ve seen the evidence that this can make for better projects, providing improved value not only near term but also over the years the building is occupied. You have all read about the stimulus plan and the dollars from that plan that are pointed toward buildings. The General Services Administration has about $8 billion in stimulus funds to spend on projects. They have deadlines for when those dollars must be spent. To meet these time and cost commitments these projects will be accomplished using IPD in one form or another.
There are other IPD champions out there as well. Colleges and universities are getting on board. So are state governments and other branches of the federal government. The private sector is also using this approach more and more.
The architect is the only person on the building team who is educated and trained to protect the public. IPD has the potential to blur the roles and responsibilities of the many team members. It is possible to view this potential as a threat. It is also possible to view this as a opportunity for architecture and public protection.
It’s time for me to provide my annual and last quote to you from Winston Churchill. It is a quote that I’ve used before but one that fits well here: “A pessimist is one who sees the difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist is one who sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
I believe in that quote. As regulators it is critical that we grasp this opportunity. We must to ensure continued adequate protection of the public.
Forward-thinking people who have executed projects using IPD profess confidence that they are exercising appropriate responsible control by the architect throughout the project process. I hope that they are. The problem that I see is that our industry has not yet even begun to wring out the full potential value from BIM and integrated project delivery. That will come with time. As IPD evolves, it will be necessary for NCARB to consider how it regulates practice to protect the public. How responsible control is achieved will be critical. Will the architect maintain his or her strong role? Or will others supplant the architect’s authority? I am confident that larger changes in the definition will be needed down the road in order that regulation remain relevant and additive to process rather than an obstacle that detracts. NCARB will need to play a strong part as this story plays out.
What signals will NCARB receive as this transformation takes place? It is hard to predict, but there will be signs. BIM and IPD together have the potential to serve client project needs and add value from predesign through construction and throughout the occupied life of the building. As this happens there will be an expansion of BIM as a tool. It is already underway. To wring out the most value from the capabilities of BIM and IPD, adjunct programs that interface with BIM are coming in to use. These programs are for cost estimating, energy modeling, facilities management, and more. As their use increases the use of IPD as a delivery system will increase. And the roles of project team members will have the potential to blur even more. I believe it is important that NCARB keep an eye on the growth of IPD and on the expansion of BIM as a tool. We must continue to assess the impact of these changes on Responsible Control. We need to do so in order that both the definition and practice of responsible control continue to provide protection of the public as it meets the needs of architectural practice.
At this time it is too early for NCARB to get out in front. IPD is too much in flux, and practice must lead regulation. However, NCARB must be alert for a time that might well come where regulation, to remain relevant and appropriate, must lead practice. Putting a stake in the ground then would be a wise thing for NCARB to do... Continue Reading..."
Very interesting things to think about when adapting BIM and IPD. As a student it is great to be aware of such discussions. When the time comes to be a practicing Architect we must be well informed about these changes that take place and will take place.