Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In Texas, a Fight Between Architects and Engineers Goes to the State Capitol

Fred A. Bernstein
Architect magazine
March 22, 2011

A decades-long battle in Texas over whether engineers can provide architectural services has moved from the courts to the state Legislature.

Under Texas law, engineers can perform design work on projects that fall below certain thresholds: 20,000 square feet for commercial structures, $100,000 for new public buildings. But that isn’t enough for the engineers, who have persuaded allies in the Legislature—including two with engineering backgrounds—to propose laws that would allow engineers to engage in what they call “comprehensive building design.”

The fight has been brewing ever since the Texas Legislature passed a “practice act,” restricting architecture work to architects, in 1990. But some engineers continued doing architecture, and in 2005 and 2006 the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners began enforcement actions. In 2008, the board issued cease-and-desist orders to three engineers it found to be practicing architecture.

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