Thursday, July 22, 2010

What’s Wrong with this Picture?

by Yvonne Castillo
TSA General Counsel

The Texas Board of Architectural Examiners is planning to propose a rule change requiring that renderings be labeled with your name, date of issuance, and statement of intent (“Not for regulatory approval, permitting or construction”). It’s an issue that the Board finds compelling due to cases seen where clients have decided during the schematic design phase or design development phase that they don’t want to pay for architectural services anymore and are ready to build with what they’ve got. This, of course, poses a risk not only to the architect, but to the public at large if the building design is not ready to be constructed.

The problem is: how can the agency regulate this scenario to protect the public in this digital age particularly since the proposed definition of a “rendering” is “a drawing, illustration or other artwork created for the purpose of demonstrating the anticipated appearance of a proposed design after construction which allows a client to make design-related decisions throughout the course of the project?” This is pretty broad. Moreover, does this kind of regulation cross over into meddling?

Architects illustrate for a living. We (and I mean you all) help clients visualize the future with illustrations of what the space will feel like, look like and how it will function, which is part of the proposed definition of “rendering.” I assume that pretty much every client meeting involves illustrating the project in some form or another. That’s why one hires an architect. These illustrations are on paper (sometimes paper napkins, paper bags, the back of an envelope) and they’re electronic (2-D and 3-D). These illustrations, especially in this technological age, are evolving, being manipulated and changed with the client real time. So with this proposed rule, how does one draw the line (so to speak)? Isn’t every illustration in some way a “rendering” used to help your client make design decisions? So, how does one decide when to include the disclaimer language? The bottom line, I think, is that it’s too fuzzy and probably shouldn’t be regulated by TBAE. Now, from a legal standpoint, if I were your attorney, I would certainly recommend that you use this disclaimer language any time possible because it protects you, as well as the public. But I don’t think it’s an easily enforceable rule. Not only that, I understand from our last Government Affairs Steering Committee meeting that because the line is so fuzzy, architects would err on the side of caution by including the language on virtually everything, which puts architects in the awkward position of appearing overly defensive to the client. Makes sense to me.

We’ll be advocating our concerns at the next TBAE meeting on August 20th. If you’re interested in this issue and want to provide input, please contact me at

1 comment:

Susan Welker, AIA said...

Why would TBAE want to regulate Renderings? TBAE's budget is already too small to regulate the general practice of sealing architectural drawings.