in: AIACC / 4 Comments
legislative, interior design, practice act, court construction, vehicle miles traveled, building code

Share this article:

Navigating the political process has been compared to making sausage…you don’t always want to know what goes into it. But like it or not, sometimes there are important “ingredients” that should not be overlooked. This article is the first in a regular series about some of the latest developments heard “around town” which may have an impact in the regulatory world.

Announcing Executive Appointments

Much of what the AIACC is able to achieve in the regulatory arena is founded on our trust-based relationships with decision makers; it’s harder to say no to a friend than a stranger. And so we were quite pleased when we learned Governor Brown has chosen to reappoint James Barthman as a Public Member to the California Building Standards Commission.

Jim has served on the CBSC since 2000 contributing his vast amount of experience gained as a building official, electrical inspector, and, most recently, as a building and electrical code consultant and regional supervisor of codes and technical services for Underwriters Laboratories Inc.

Jim has been a good friend and supportive of the AIACC’s efforts to assure California has safe, sustainable, affordable, and sensible building codes. We look forward to working with Jim and congratulate him on his appointment to the CBSC.

In addition to Barthman, Governor Brown has also appointed Richard Sierra, of San Bernardino, as the Organized Labor Member to the California Building Standards Commission. Mr. Sierra has worked at the Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 783 since 1977 and has served as business manager since 1996. The AIACC welcomes and looks forward to working with Mr. Sierra.

These positions require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation.

A New Twist on Qualifications Based Selection

I hesitated to put this in writing for fear I would be participatory in this becoming the new norm – if it’s not already.

For years public project owners have “complied” with California’s Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) laws using the sealed “wink wink” envelope method to pretend compliance with the law, while in actuality circumventing it. For years this has been their solution to the prohibition on requesting fees prior to the ranking of a firm, based on its demonstrated competence and professional qualifications prior to selection.

Now, I’ve learned from an AIA member of a new strategy that, to be quite candid, caught me by surprise: a school district has taken the position that all architects responding to their Request For Proposals are equally qualified, thereby avoiding the need to individually interview and rank them.

Obliquely, one could conclude that the district has met the selection requirements of QBS and is within the law. What is clear is that the profession is being treated, now more than ever (and especially so in this economy), as a “product”. A commodity no different than any other be it a case of copy paper or a carton of paper towels, moving us further from a service and closer to its margins.

Changes to LEED 2012: Public Comment Period Open

The USGBC is seeking public comment on revisions to LEED for 2012. Architects are encouraged to review LEED 2012 information and submit their input. Changes are scheduled to be released by USGBC at this year’s Greenbuild Conference in San Francisco – November 12-16. The deadline for comment is March 20, 2012.


Kurt Cooknick, Assoc. AIA

Kurt T. Cooknick, Assoc. AIA, is the Director of Regulation and Practice. With experience in the profession and over 15 years as an advocate on behalf of the architectural profession in California, he is passionate about protecting and advancing the profession.

More Posts

Share this article:

  1. avatar

    On the surface the proposal appears to have merit, however, I do not believe that it is within the purview of CAB to enter into language with the potential to impact the methods and means by which professional contracts are entered into, beyond present language contained in the licensing act.

    That is, unless you have already sought and received a concurrence from Doug McCauleyn that this would permissable.

  2. avatar
    Anne Zimmerman

    Kurt-I think the AIA CC strategy you outline is quite brilliant. I only hope that the less experienced generations learn how critical this is for all of us, and the profession, and architecture and quality design, as a whole. thank you for all you do!

  3. avatar
    Kurt Cooknick

    Thank you for your comments.

    Those who understand Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) value it as the best possible method for selecting design professionals, and that by making superior qualifications and experience the paramount basis for selection, QBS moves beyond focusing on the lowest price, and instead focuses on obtaining the best value.

    Unfortunately, both the QBS and the RFP process have been manipulated and maligned to arrive at cost first – often, and ironically, at the expense of the project. This, coupled with poor project scoping at the onset, places the design professional at a disadvantage with the client as they struggle to both manage and meet the client’s expectations.

    For its part the AIACC is taking a unique approach to this problem. Recognizing that any efforts to strengthen the existing statute (Government Code Section 4526) could quite possible lead to the loss of the statute, the AIACC is introducing a bill that makes a significant change to the Architects Practice Act.

    The bill, SB 1424, authored by State Senator Tom Harman, addresses the growing trend we are seeing of public entities asking for a fee during the selection phase of public works.

    Our approach to this issue is not to strengthen the QBS law by more clearly prohibiting the use of fees during the selection phase – we believe that, for a variety of reasons, including the economy, we would not succeed with that approach – but rather a better approach is to put language in the architects, engineers, and land surveyors practice acts to prohibit architects, engineers, and land surveyors from providing fees during the selection phase.

    This language is intended to empower those professionals to reject a request for a fee, to give them the ability to say, “I am violating the law if I provide a fee, and will be subject to disciplinary measures by my licensing board if I provide a fee.”

    SB 1424 should have its first hearing in the Legislature in April.

  4. avatar

    QBS proposal requests are more often then not drafted by CM’s (with a vested interest?)

    Many are to new at the game to know the abilities of firms. Consider taht with 1000 K-12 and 100 CC districts, there is a dilution factor that means larger districts often get the more experienced firms and smaller or farther out districts get newer firms with less experienced personnel. The same is true with CM’s. Therein the issue lies, too much work at times with not enough experienced professionals and then not enough work with too many competeing for it. Every 10 years the cycle repeats itself (71, 81, 91, 01, 11) and many contiue to ignore it. This is reality!

    We continue to allow them to wedge themselves between us and the client. How much longer will we allow them to undermine us?

    Also note that the pool of ‘experienced architects” Those licensed prior to the 90’s is rapidly diminishing.
    We are losing our institutional memory at a critical time, what with the retirement and layoffs of experienced personel. The same is true of the construction community, they are being decimated. The newer project delivery systems are increasing CA time for architects and with it the demand for more rapid responses. We are setting ourselves up for another 1990’s construction defect explosion during the coming years.

4 Responses to Noteworthy


Leave a Reply

Join the discussion!