Sure enough, NCARB agrees with that. NCARB, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, has published a document entitled Architecture as It Differs From Engineering. It's a 2004 update of a document originally created in 1982 and amended in 1995, and its purpose is "to assist its Member Boards in their continuing effort to prevent the unlawful practice of architecture by unlicensed persons." Basically, it's a legal brief to be used by state boards when they go after non-architects for providing design services. They go through differences in training; outline precedent cases in which engineers were sued or blocked from project completion because they had done design work; compare the Architectural Registration Exam (ARE) to the Fundamentals of Engineering and Principles and Practices of Engineering exams; bring in quotes from an "expert group" about professional differences; and compare B.Arch and B.S. Civil Engineering curricula from six colleges.
The argument boils down to this:
- architects go to school longer than engineers;
- architects have broader training than engineers;
- this training is more "integrative and imaginative" than that of other fields;
- this training allows architects to coordinate the work of others; and
- this training ensures that architects promote individual, community, and ecological values.
Being someone involved in the training of architects, I think I'd have to respectfully disagree. There aren't an awful lot of courses in the curriculum that help students manage teams of diverse specialists. There's only sporadic attention to ecological concerns and data-driven outcomes testing. The consideration of "how does a building impact its surroundings" is typically true only inasmuch as the surroundings are mass models of gray chipboard. And the understanding of culture and behavior and values is also not a feature of most architectural curricula.
In the end, as we look at the comparison of the B.Arch and B.S.C.E. curricula they provide in Appendix C, the only fundamental differences are that the engineering students take a lot more math, physics and technical systems, and that the architecture students have studio and architectural history. So in order to bolster NCARB's claims, studio and arch history courses had better have a lot of attention paid to team facilitation, post-occupancy evaluation, individual cognition and social behavior, cultural norms and values, contextual sensitivity, and ecological fit.
And, as the saying goes, how's THAT workin' out for ya?