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Beware of 'fake' architects!

Published:Monday | May 7, 2012 | 12:00 AM
From left: Robert Woodstock, Warren McDonald, and Joan McDonald of Berger Paints, were spotted at the recent Jamaican Institute of Architects annual dinner held at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel, New Kingston. - Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer
The Atrium, the National Commercial Bank's headquarters, is an example of the fine architecture produced by members of the Jamaica Institute of Architects. It was designed by the firm McMorris Sibley Robinson.

Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer

Laurie Ferron, president of the Jamaica Institute of Architects (JIA), is warning the general public to be careful of persons who operate and use the title architect without being registered by the Architects Registration Board of Jamaica.

Ferron stated in a recent interview with The Gleaner that only persons who are registered by the board are entitled to take and use the title architect after their names or to practice the profession of architecture. He disclosed that many times persons visit the JIA centre or call the JIA's office seeking mediation between themselves and persons who have taken their money under the guise of claiming that they are architects.

"They tell persons they are architects and some of these individuals disappear after the plans they have drawn have been rejected by the building authorities and the clients come to the JIA seeking help as to how to reclaim their money. Neither the Architects Registration Board or the JIA can help then and the clients only recourse is legal action," Ferron said.

Ferron, who is a part-time lecturer at the Caribbean School of Architecture at the University of Technology, stated that registered persons must first enter an accredited architecture school and attain a professional degree in architecture. Following receipt of the degree, it is required that they work a minimum of two years under the supervision of a registered architect.

Registration important

Persons can then apply to become registered and take the Architects Registration Examination that is administered by the JIA on behalf of the Architects Registration Board. The examination is normally held once per year in November. After successfully passing the examination, persons are then recommended to the Architects Registration Board and assigned a registration number.

"It is important that all persons who play a key role in the development process, especially within the public service, be registered professionals ... . The JIA will strive to be at the forefront and be a watchdog for the improvement of the quality of life through a well developed and planned environment," Ferron said.

"The JIA is encouraging the public to be fully aware of contacting us if they need the services of a registered architect. These so-called architects delivered substandard product, or none at all; at this point the JIA cannot render any assistance to these clients, and their only recourse is to seek legal action." he said.

Preserve integrity

He further noted that because of the high level of substandard building design and development been delivered by these so-called architects, there is an immediate need to protect the public and preserving the integrity and value of the architecture profession. He feels it is high time the JIA take a closer look at monitoring its profession, however challenging this might be.

In addition, he said, registered members participate in seminars and workshops each year to further develop and appreciate the value of architecture in Jamaica. Following their participation, they are issued with an Annual Practice Certificate and further solidifies their licence to practice architecture in Jamaica.

A list of registered architects in Jamaica can be found on the Architects Registration Board of Jamaica's website: