Practicing ArchitecturePracticing Architecture
From ARCHITECT Live: Professional Ethics and Risk Management Video
Common ethical pitfalls and the added responsibilities of AIA membership
At the 2013 AIA National Convention in Denver, ARCHITECT LIVE host Stephen Chung, AIA, spoke with Michael Prifti, FAIA, and construction litigation lawyer Michael Vardaro about two of the more pragmatic aspects of practicing architecture: ethics and risk management. At this ARCHITECT Live session, Prifti and Vardaro defined how membership in the AIA requires higher ethical obligations than non-member designers, and pointed out some of the most common ethical lapses.
Prifti is managing principal of BLT Architects and previously served on the National Ethics Council for six years; he is currently a trustee of the AIA Trust. As an attorney, Vardaro focuses his practice on construction litigation, including drafting and negotiating construction contracts. With a degree in civil engineering, he is well-versed in providing legal advice to a variety of construction industry clients.
In the ARCHITECT Live conversation, Prifti says that the most common and frequently unintentional violation of ethics in design is the omission of credit for the true authorship of a project. Prifti notes that there are obligations and restrictions on a new firm using the drawings of a predecessor firm, and advised that it is appropriate to credit everyone involved in the completion of a project, not just the architects. Failure to accurately credit work performed for a previous employer could result in an ethical claim which may not necessarily be a legal claim, depending on the state and its laws and regulations.
Another situation where AIA ethics claims address obligations that go above and beyond what is required by law concerns maintaining the safety of the public. For example, an architect could become aware of a decision that the client is making which is not necessarily within regulations, but that the client is adamant to implement. In this case, the architect has a duty to advise the client against making the wrong decision, and should the client ignore the advice and hire another architect who will follow his directions without question, the original architect has an ethical obligation to report the situation to the authorities to ensure that the building is safe for the public at large.
Since the AIA ethics guidelines address only AIA members, the National Ethics Council does not exercise authority over the non-member practitioner, but all architects are subject to state regulation. AIA members have a deep well of risk management educational resources available to them, collected on the AIA Trust website.
Watch the ARCHITECT Live Professional Ethics and Risk Management video.
Read the AIA Code of Ethics.
Find this upcoming white paper and all AIA Trust risk management resources—free to AIA members—on the AIA Trust website.