NCARB’s up to something.

Just when you thought the dust had settled from IDP 2.0 and ARE 4.0….

Just when you had fleshed out your IDP excel spreadsheet…

Just when your office had finally collected all the updated study resources…

NCARB goes and starts changing things.

Sure they are kinks in the system now, but why change? We know intricacies and the red tape to avoid, so why change the system and cause complete chaos!?!

NCARB’s reply? To stay relevant to where the profession is and where it is going. -Fair enough.

Hi! My name is Meg Kullerd Hohnholt and I am AIA Colorado’s former IDP Coordinator. I say former because earlier this month NCARB gave my volunteer position a new title – Architect Licensing Advisor. Fancy, I know!

Yes, NCARB is changing things and after hearing about them at the IDP Coordinator’s conference earlier this month, I am both concerned and excited. Concerned for the process of shifting mindsets to these new changes. Excited to help this process begin.

So let’s do this…

Modified Six Month Rule (Lost Hours – Found!)

You can now get credit for experience hours completed beyond six months! This is great news, especially for emerging professionals in Colorado. Why you ask? Because as of January this year, Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) will only accept experience through the NCARB’s IDP program.

More Frequent ARE Retakes (Oops, I did it again.)

NCARB will now allow candidates who have failed a division to retake the division as soon as 60 days after the previous attempt, up to three times in a running year for any one division. We went from 6 months down to 60 days for a retake. This is awesome news for those who have found the momentum for taking the ARE exams because they can not worry as much that a failed test will push back the entire process for half a year.

ARE 5.0 (Did you say fewer tests?)

Hold on to your smartphone, because here’s the BIG news. Yes, ARE 5.0 is coming and its format will completely change how candidates approach the exam. So remember the ARE 3.0 to 4.0 switch and how most the study materials still aligned to the exam sections and vignettes really didn’t change? This won’t be like that.

First of all, the vignettes are gone. The Dorf book that I told to you beg, borrow or steal for your only hope in passing the vignettes, it can now be used as a coloring book.

Second, they’ve added new question types to the test. You’ll still have your ol’ reliables of “Single Select Multiple Choice”, “Check All That Apply”, and “Quantitative Fill in the Blank”, but now you’ll have prepare for “Hot Spot” (pick a point on a drawing to identify the___) and “Drag and Place” (place the following object(s) on a drawing).

Third big change is there will be Case Studies in the tests. These will be written scenarios with context and resource documents that you’ll be tested on.

But wait!…There’s more..

The final big change is that there will be only six tests in ARE 5.0.

NCARB knows exam transition will be challenging so they sweetened the deal. For those who select to transition from ARE 4.0 to ARE 5.0, there is a way to only take five tests to pass the ARE. So should you start planning your transition between the test versions now? Not unless you want to hold off your licensure (and your career) another two years.

ARE 5.0 won’t be launched until late 2016, and ARE 4.0 is going to continue for another 18 months after that (June 2018)! For those starting to test and for those contemplating on when they will start their ARE endeavor, now is the time to dive in while the study materials and the support community (those who’ve recently taken ARE 4.0) is there for you!

More Changes are Coming!

These are just this fall’s the hot topics. Stay tuned because it has been proposed that   IDP will get an overhaul too.

No IDP record? Submit NOW or LOSE!

Are you putting off applying for your architect license in Colorado? Well NOW is the time to apply!
Effective January 1, 2014, NCARB’s IDP will be required of all Colorado applicants for original licensure. This means that if you haven’t been using IDP to log your experience hours, but have completed the required amount of experience for DORA, you better submit soon so that you are approved to test before January 1st!  If you are not approved to test before that date, you’ll have to submit your experience through IDP.

This is going to be upsetting for folks who have NEVER logged in their hours in IDP because they will “lose” all their prior experience and have to start over logging their hours in IDP.

Now I realize that’s a LOT of acronyms in the statement above. So let me break it down further….

There are essentially 3 things you need to become a licensed architect.
ncarb1) Education
2) Experience
3) Examination
This issue focuses on Experience and Examination, and for more information about the whole process of becoming a licensed architect, click here.

Currently in the State of Colorado, if you’d like to apply to take your architectural registration exams (AREs), you need to prove your work experience or that you are on your way to getting the required amount of work experience.

  • One way to do that is through the National Council of Architectural Registration Board’s (NCARB’s) Intern Development Program (IDP).
  • The other is through submitting your experience directly to the State of Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA). This direct option WILL GO AWAY at the end of the year.

Now how does that relate to “losing” prior experience?
Say you have a M.Arch degree and have been recording your experience hours on paper (or in an excel spreadsheet) for the past 3 years. Okay, then say you wait to submit your experience for licensure until next year, 2014. As of January 1, DORA will not allow you to submit your experience via paper and pencil, only by IDP. So you start logging your hours into IDP, only to find out that IDP has a 6 month rule that only allows you to log in experience as far back as 6 months (actually 8 months, but that’s another blog post). Now you have just “lost” 2.5 years of experience! You will have to wait that amount of time in logging additional experience in IDP in order for you to prove you have the adequate amount of experience to apply for initial licensure in Colorado.

So if you’ve been thinking about getting licensed and applying with your experience directly to DORA (i.e. without IDP), NOW is the time to get the paperwork submitted! *I write this in bold and italics because come next year, I’d really, really, REALLY would like to avoid getting angry emails from applicants saying they were not told about this transition. In fact, the transition was approved in early 2011…2 years ago.


Below is a Frequently Asked Question from DORA’s website describing the process for this direct option.

Q: Do I have to go through NCARB and IDP to get my experience verified?

A: No, IDP is not required now. However, you must have an NCARB File Number in order to take the ARE. You may apply directly to the Colorado Board without going through the entire NCARB IDP process; however, all applicants are required to apply online at to set up a NCARB record and obtain a NCARB file number. In addition, you must meet the Colorado experience requirements pursuant to the NCARB IDP training requirements (refer to Board Rule 4.4.1). Be aware that many states require completion of IDP for licensure and may not award endorsement or reciprocity licensure without it. Information about IDP and states that require it is available from NCARB’s website. If you decide to apply directly to the Colorado Board, complete the Application for Original License by Examination.

Effective January 1, 2014, NCARB’s IDP will be required of all Colorado applicants for original licensure.

For more information on this, please contact me!
Meg Kullerd Hohnholt, AIA, NCARB
AIA Colorado State IDP Coordinator

And we are live – ARCHITECT LIVE!

Good Morning Everyone!!!

Your AIACO_EP bloggers were busy representing at the 2013 AIA National Convention! We gave our presentation “Do You Know Your Emerging Professionals?” on Saturday morning. You know it’s a hit when over half the audience stays after the presentation to talk to the presenters. Just saying.

Then we had breakfast (or in Nathan’s case, Second Breakfast) and scooted off the Architect LIVE studio on the Expo floor. Click HERE for the link to our Architect LIVE video. 

Below are a few photos from our experience.

Thanks for all the love and support! We couldn’t have done this without our great mentors, friends & families. Enjoy!


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Becoming an Architect – Why? & How?

Let’s start off with the BIG question…Why get licensed?

This is what began NCARB’s presentation of “IDP, ARE & Certification” last week to audiences at University of Colorado campuses in Denver and Boulder and at the AIA Colorado Office in Denver.

NCARB’s Martin Smith, AIA, led the discussion by referring to a similar professional occupation – Doctors.

You’ve been to a Doctor, right? Hopefully in the last few years just for a checkup at least! Well, when you walk into a doctor’s office and you glance past all their certificates and licenses in big fancy frames…you assume something right? That these pieces of paper say your doctor is competent enough in their education and experience not to kill you with whatever they prescribe. Licensed Doctors save lives every day.
Same thing goes for Architects. The building you are in right now had an Architect. They were (or still are) licensed by the state that they were competent enough in their education and experience not to kill you with whatever they designed. Therefore, Licensed Architects save thousands upon thousands of lives every day!!!

That’s cool, but why would someone want to get licensed? Martin gave some great reasons:

  • Having an architectural license allows you to be called an Architect – if you don’t have it, by the State of Colorado you are an “Architectural Intern”.
  • Having an architectural license gives you a strong credential in the job market and increases you value($$$)! Your billable rate to projects and your salary should both increase once you’re licensed. If they don’t, then you may want to have a conversation with your employer.
  • Having an architectural license also gives you the credibility and independence to start your own firm. Our Adam Hillhouse did it! And you can too!

Okay, then how do I become an Architect?

Usually this question is first asked by curious high schoolers, which is good, but it really should be asked throughout college and those first few internships as well, just to make sure you’re still on the right track!

The rest of Martin’s hour and a half presentation covered all the ins & outs of this process, but in the light of my limited word count, I’ll give you the simplified version.

NCARB breaks down the process into three parts: Education, Experience and Examination.

  • Education – Get a NAAB (National Architectural Accrediting Board) accredited degree. If you don’t, depending on the state, it may take you more Experience (aka TIME) before you can sit for the Examination.
  • Experience – Get work experience at an architecture firm and log it in through IDP (Intern Development Program). If you don’t work for an architecture firm, it may take you more Experience (aka TIME) before you can sit for the Examination.
  • Examination – Get the AREs (Architect Registration Examination) done as soon as you can once you’re done with school. If you don’t, life and work may get in the way and make it incredibly more difficult to set aside time to do these.

For more detailed information on how do get these three milestones done, go to NCARB’s website. Just dive right in and try not to drown in its volume of information. If you feel you are close to taking on water, but you still can’t find the answer to your one burning question, please email me at I’m more than happy to take on your question and find an answer so you can stay afloat! But if you’ve got an extra hot issue that needs special attention, you may want to contact NCARB’s customer service directly, 202/879-0520.

Bests of Luck!

Megan Kullerd Hohnholt, AIA, NCARB
AIA Colorado State IDP Coordinator

You Get What You Give

As I walked into the event, I felt solitary. Same feeling I would get going to a club to meet up with a friend who I hoped was already there. Here I am and I know no one. How am I going to meet people? Who am I going to talk to? Why did I come here in the first place? Just don’t be a wallflower Meg. Worst comes to worst, hide out on the dance floor.

Those were my thoughts as I braved into my first AIA Denver event, YAAG 2010. I had just moved to Denver and only new a handful of architects. I had no idea how big or small the community was…until that night.

When I first walked in I ran into Cheryl, who I met at a Women In Design event. I asked if she knew Mary, my mentor that I was paired with by Chris. Of course! She’s right over there! And Chris is talking to those guys over there!

It snowballed from there. I don’t even remember if there was a dance floor.  As I left the event with six business cards in hand I knew it was a very successful networking night for me. I had a hunch that this was the way I’d find an architecture job in Denver. I had to get more involved in AIA.

Fast forward 2.5 years to last Thursday at the AIA Denver Annual Meeting.

I get there early and say Hi to all the awesome AIA staff. I make my way over to the food – got to get the good stuff first, plus once people get here it will be hard to eat. Nathan joins me at the buffet and we chat about our firms and the projects we’re on. Moments later I see an Associate member who arrived solo. He’s standing at a table alone while taking in the scene. I have empathy for this guy as I think back to my first AIA event. I put down my hummus, straighten my name tag listing the committees I’m on and go say Hello.

Of the Associates who attended the AIA Denver Meeting, I would guess half or more are looking for architectural work. Their chances of finding a job increased tenfold by attending that event and meeting people. Good for you for getting out on a Thursday evening and stepping into a place that can be very good for your career!

Want to know the next step? Get involved! It’s one thing to attend the parties and eat the food. But it’s getting involved in the committees where you can really get the attention of perspective employers.

This upcoming year is prime with opportunities for Associates to get involved in AIA, especially within the AIA Denver Chapter. The position of Associate Director on the AIA Denver Board of Directors is open starting next year. If you’re interested in running, here’s the information to get on the ballot. AIA Denver also has an Associates Committee, ACAD, that has unfortunately dormant this year and looking for leadership for next year. Are you a passionate person who has creative ideas for events for Associates? Then maybe this is your calling. Maybe you’ve got a friend who wants to do it too. Co-Chair! Contact Pomie at the AIA Colorado Office.

I often get asked, “What do you get out of AIA?” As the New Radicals put it…You Get What You Give.
So get out there, meet people, and give.