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What are the licensure requirements in the UK for US architects?

Fiona Mckay

Licensure in the UK is administered by the Architects Registration Board (ARB). This is equivalent to the individual state licensing boards in the US. The RIBA, like the AIA, is not a legal entity that regulates either the practice or title of architecture. It is worth noting that the practice of architecture is not regulated in the UK, rather the title ‘Architect’ is regulated. Therefore, a US registered architect (or anyone else) can practice architecture in the UK so long as they don’t call themselves an architect. This affects the use of initials such as AIA within the UK, and this topic is discussed elsewhere.

The overall requirements for licensure in the UK and the US is similar, with the main difference being that the US license requires a minimum of 3 years’ work experience, whereas the UK license only requires 2 years. The UK license is divided into 3 parts, Parts I, II, and III. The first two parts relate to university education, with Part I being 3 years of education and Part II being two years of education. This is like the US 5-year B Arch degree. The US range of options of undergraduate/graduate study does not exist in the UK. In the UK, by completing a UK architectural degree you have completed Parts I and II. The Part III is a professional practice examination that covers things such as contracts, project administration, and UK specific items such as planning (zoning) permissions and rights of light.

There is no reciprocity between the US and the UK for architectural licensure, although this did exist briefly a number of years ago. In a typical scenario, for a US architect to obtain UK registration they must demonstrate that they have an architectural education equivalent to the UK Parts I and II. They must then pass the Part III examination. In theory, the above sounds straight forward, but the practical reality is considerably different. The easy bit in the process is the Part III examination. This is offered by most architectural schools, and they typically have programmes with evening lecture series, geared towards young architects who are
working duering the day, and are working towards their licensure. It is a simple matter to enrol and participate and/or take the examinations.

The key issue is educational reciprocity, which does not exist. An accredited US architectural degree does not qualify as a UK accredited degree. It should be noted that it is the ARB who is responsible for determining whether a degree qualifies for Part I or Part II exemption. Somewhat confusingly, the RIBA also does this, but this has no legal bearing, and there have been some unfortunate incidents
involving UK Commonwealth countries that have RIBA accredited architectural programmes whose graduates don’t qualify for the UK ARB Parts I and II.

For someone with a US accredited architectural degree to get equivalency by ARB, the candidate must submit a portfolio, considerable documentation, and attend an interview for each of the two parts. The current cost for each part is approximately £2000. If the applicant fails the process, then a new fee must be paid. The failure rate in recent years has been surprisingly high, and in this writer’s opinion there is something drastically wrong with this system given the similarities of US and UK
architectural education.

The AIA UK is working to assist in developing a method of education reciprocity between the US and the UK, although until the UK leaves the European union, this won’t be possible. Also, this issue is not high on the agenda for the organizations involved (on both sides of the Atlantic), and this factors into timescales.

If you have further questions, please contact the AIA in the United Kingdom and they canput you in touch with one our members living here who can address your questions in greater detail.

Written by: Lester Korzilius; FAIA, NCARB, RIBA, ARB

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Welcome New Chapter Members

Fiona Mckay

The AIA UK chapter continues to grow and the Board of Directors would like to welcome the
following new members who joined since the first of the year.

  • Paul Allen, AIA - Echo Architecture
  • Illiana Ivanova, AIA - FXFOWLE Architects
  • Innocenzo Langerano, Int. Assoc. AIA - Design International
  • Anna Liu, Int. Assoc. AIA - Tonkin Liu
  • Susan Shay, AIA - PhD Candidate, Cambridge University
  • Ziad Shehab, AIA - BIG Partners Ltd
  • Gonzalo Padilla Villamizar, Assoc. AIA - Foster & Partners

We look forward to meeting all of you soon!

By Michael Lischer, FAIA
Membership Chairman

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Member News: Thinking Small and Achieving Big

Fiona Mckay

This article has been written as part of the AIA Newsletter’s commitment to up-to- date member news. If you are aware of UK Chapter members’ involvement in other newsworthy projects or events, please bring them to our attention via a “comment” follow up note at the end of this article and we will endeavour to publish further feature articles.

Remember we won’t know what you have achieved unless you tell us!

There is nothing quite like working for major international firms on large projects to kindle a sincere interest in all things small, local and community minded. Although AIA UK Board Directors Amrita Raja AIA and Katharine Storr AIA both work for rival London firms, they jumped at the opportunity earlier this year to pool their talents, think small and enter a design competition for a one-room children’s playhouse.


For the past 22 years, an organisation called Dallas CASA has worked with “generous architects, builders, organisations, corporations and individuals” to design, build and donate “extraordinary children’s playhouses to raise funds so that Dallas CASA can provide more volunteer advocates to help abused and neglected children have safe, permanent homes where they can thrive”. (See more about Dallas CASA HERE.)

For the past 6 years, the Life of an Architect blogger Bob Borson has supported Dallas CASA’s “Parade of Playhouses” by organising an annual Playhouse Design Competition. (See more about the LOAA blog HERE.)

For the past 2 years, SketchUp – the company whose 3D modelling software has been used by almost every competition entrant – has worked with LOAA establishing a special award category and making a sizable donation to Dallas CASA to underwrite the construction of its own and two other Playhouse Design Competition winners. 

And the 2017 SketchUp Playhouse prize winner was - you guessed it – the musically themed “Playhouse Rock” designed by the team of Amrita and Katharine. Not only has the London based duo had the satisfaction of winning a design competition at this early stage in their careers, they have also had the added pleasure of seeing their creation actually built – a rare treat in their otherwise everyday world of large projects and lengthy delivery times.

   Photo Credits: Boy at Xylophone by DallasCASA / Screenshots of 3D Model by SketchUp

Photo Credits: Boy at Xylophone by DallasCASA / Screenshots of 3D Model by SketchUp

While congratulating Amrita and Katharine on their win, it should be made clear that – although small – according to Bob Borson, playhouses are in fact “surprisingly complicated little buildings”. The 6 judges had to assess 26 entries based on overall design, appeal and constructability. Part of the design competition rules also stipulated that entries included both design drawings and full construction documents. (See more about the other winners HERE.)


Amrita and Katharine have known each other since their Master of Architecture courses at Yale and their friendship has continued since they both came to London and joined the AIA UK Chapter Board. Playhouse Rock itself has been well critiqued in a SketchUp interview (see HERE), which is well worth reading for more details on the concept and comments on how the Amrita and Katharine collaboration worked.

Now that they are officially “S-Lab.Space” (see HERE), Amrita and Katharine plan to continue their collaboration and are also looking for partnerships with others for design research and non-profit projects with a need for design improvements.

Written by:: Lorraine King, AIA

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Member News: The Long Road to Wembley……

Fiona Mckay

This article has been written as part of the AIA Newsletter’s commitment to up-to-date member news.  If you are aware of UK Chapter members’ involvement in other newsworthy projects or events, please bring them to our attention via a “comment” follow up note at the end of this article and we will endeavour to publish further feature articles.

It all started way back on 15 Nov 2016 when the AIA UK Chapter held its first – of many it is hoped? – Pub Quiz Night, hosted by our generous sponsor, Armstrong. See Newsletter 80 HERE.

On the night, the competition was fierce and the disappointment at losing out to bigger, stronger (and younger) teams was bitterly felt by the coalition of Deborah Bartlett, Int’l Assoc; Lorraine King, AIA and Michael Lischer, FAIA. This veteran team had - after all - clearly “won” that Quiz section based on architectural expertise, but there was no award for such limited and specialist knowledge.  (See evidence of sectional victory below.  Could you have done better?  Is there anyone out there aware that Los Angeles actually now has a skyline?)  

   ‘Best in Quiz’ for Picture Round

‘Best in Quiz’ for Picture Round

However, other teams were simply far better at those tricky, general knowledge questions and the Bartlett, Lischer, King Team did not even end up with an honorary mention.  (We all know about the Apollo moon landings and the famous line “The Eagle has landed,” so is there any point in knowing the exact wording of the first lunar landing quote??? Most of the other participants were not even born at the time…)

However, the slight – very slight – air of disgruntlement at losing out so badly to other teams was soon dispelled when Bartlett, Lischer and King hit the jackpot at Armstrong’s generous follow up Raffle.  The two winning tickets where held by none other than - Deborah and Lorraine!  It eventually turned out that the prizes were two top-rate tickets for an England World Cup qualifying match against Lithuania at Wembley Stadium.

   Opening events at Wembley.  Photo: Michael Lischer, FAIA

Opening events at Wembley.  Photo: Michael Lischer, FAIA

On sober reflection the next morning, both Deborah and Lorraine – with admirable self awareness – decided that others might actually enjoy a football match together more than they would.  Who better to give their tickets to than teammate Michael Lischer and fellow participant Robert Rhodes AIA?

On the 26th of March, Robert and Michael were finally treated to the thrilling Lithuania v England match.  The Lithuanian team put up a strong defence, but were ultimately unsuccessful.  Goals by Jermaine Defoe and substitute Jamie Vardy clinched the 2-0 victory for England.  Michael and Robert enjoyed a great evening with the Armstrong host Phillip Pabst, but at this late date cannot quite remember any further pertinent details!  

Thanks to Armstrong for their continued support of the AIA UK Chapter and their generosity to its members. Another Pub Quiz Night has now been confirmed for 8 Nov 2017.  Be prepared!

Written by: Lorraine King, AIA (with support from Michael Lischer, FAIA)

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AIA UK Chapter Annual Bike Ride / Kent & the Low Weald

Fiona Mckay

   Photo Credit: L Barndt AIA (by remote control)

Photo Credit: L Barndt AIA (by remote control)

The AIA Chapter Annual Bike Ride was originally planned as an educational outing to chart “the development of British gothic architecture from the Early English to Decorated and then Perpendicular periods”. On the day, it also proved a celebration of all things quintessentially English – timber framed houses, medieval churches, picturesque villages, hospitable pubs, glorious countryside and – of course - unpredictable weather.

The ride – organised by Benedict O’Looney RIBA, architect and historian (See HERE) – was a leisurely tour of the Kent countryside with an extension for the more intrepid through Romney Marsh and along the coast to Folkestone. Six AIA members – Etain Fitzpatrick AIA, Lorraine King AIA and Chris Musangi AIA - completed the core ride (See Chris’ Relive route HERE), while three others – Lutz Barndt AIA, Maria Loring AIA and Alex Miller AIA - followed Benedict to Folkestone.

LB Journal.jpg

As usual, the tour benefited from Benedict’s local social and historical knowledge, judicious route planning and intense enthusiasm for architecture in context. The now quiet Kentish villages on the route were once part of a lively network of trade and cultural exchange that is reflected in the quality of their ancient buildings. Benedict always takes time to point out special
features one might otherwise overlook, this time in particular, stressing the continuing relevance of traditional materials and the opportunities for special artistic treatments.

The ride started in the village of Headcorn, with a review of the two architectural types to dominate the day – timbered houses and 11th to 13th century churches. Quick to recognise the educational insights, Lutz’s on-the- spot journal entry for the day (extract above) faithfully recorded some of the salient features we were to witness over the next few hours.

   Headcorn and Smarden Photo Credits: M Loring, AIA, E Fitzpatrick AIA

Headcorn and Smarden Photo Credits: M Loring, AIA, E Fitzpatrick AIA

Leaving Headcorn, we passed a WWII airfield on our way to the even more picturesque village of Smarden with a fine collection of vintage houses. Smarden’s local pub hosted the group on an outdoor octagonal table, perfectly suited for simultaneous lunching and sketching. The drawings below were accomplished quickly – albeit some with post-ride enhancements – under Benedict’s calm encouragement.

   Smarden street scenes. Photo credit: E Fitzpatrick AIA / Sketch credits: C Musangi AIA, M Loring AIA, L Barndt AIA, B O’Looney RIBA

Smarden street scenes. Photo credit: E Fitzpatrick AIA / Sketch credits: C Musangi AIA, M Loring AIA, L Barndt AIA, B O’Looney RIBA

The next stage of the ride was undertaken in a gloomy “summer” shower, until we took refuge in Bethersden’s comforting village pub. The rain tried to dampen spirits, but most of us have lived in the UK long enough to appreciate English weather so we eventually just pushed on to Woodchurch with its striking windmill and fine church.

   Woodchurch’s windmill and church Photo Credit: C Musangi AIA

Woodchurch’s windmill and church
Photo Credit: C Musangi AIA

As we had hoped, the weather cleared along the way to the final village of Appledore. Although the weather did not quite achieve rainbow stage, the sunshine alone made the final leg as close to sublime as anyone could wish.

   Glorious (flat) countryside Photo Credit: C Musangi AIA

Glorious (flat) countryside
Photo Credit: C Musangi AIA

Written by: Lorraine King, AIA

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AIA International Region 2018-2019 - First Vice President

Fiona Mckay

On behalf of the American Institute of Architects' International Region Board of Directors, we are pleased to announce the results of our recent elections for the 2018-2019 positions of First Vice President and Treasurer.

Lester Korzilius, FAIA, RIBA

Director and co-owner of Ellis Williams Architects

Based in the UK, Lester has been elected as the AIA International Region 2018-2019 First Vice President.  A former AIA-UK President and Secretary to the International Region, Lester is setting out to:

  • Improve communication to all IR members

  • Strengthen ties and communication between the 6 existing IR chapters

  • Create programs and opportunities for Unassigned IR members, including local events, webinars and social media

  • Assist and nurture overseas areas wishing to become chapters

  • Assist in building positive brand awareness overseas of US architects and US architecture

  • Promote American values of design and project delivery internationally

  • Strengthen ties with overseas professional architectural organizations

  • Work with the College of Fellows to extend the influence of the AIA via mentorship, scholarships, and other similar programs

  • Strengthen awareness of international issues and concerns among US based members of the AIA and related organizations

  • Working with the International Practice Advisory Group, provide a resource of best practice for overseas projects

  • Leverage sponsorship opportunities of the IR to fund the above programs

Join us in congratulating Lester and welcoming him back to the International Region Board of Director.

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