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Pennsylvania

Pursuant to Architects Licensure Law (code of Pennsylvania 63 P.S. § 34.4), Architects Licensure Board which shall consist of the Commissioner of Professional and Occupational Affairs pursuant to Code of Pennsylvania 63 P.S. § 34.6 shall set standards of professional conduct for architects.

Pursuant to Code of Pennsylvania. 63 P.S. § 34.18, no individual shall engage in the practice, or offer to engage in the practice of architecture in the State of Pennsylvania, or use the title of architect or use any sign, card or device implying that such individual is an architect, or is competent to engage in the practice of architecture, unless such individual holds a currently valid certificate.

Code of Pennsylvania. 63 P.S. § 34.8 provides that the following are the requirements for submitting application for a certificate of architect’s license

  • Any individual of good character, who is a legal resident of Pennsylvania or who is in the employment of or under the direct supervision of an architect licensed with the board and who maintains a practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania under a permanent Pennsylvania business address may apply for a certificate under this act.
  • Each applicant for a certificate shall submit evidence satisfactory to the board that the applicant holds a professional degree in architecture from an accredited school and has obtained at least three years’ practical experience in the employ of or under the direct supervision of a registered architect or as part of the applicant’s academic training.
  • In lieu of a professional degree in architecture, the board may accept evidence of at least six years’ practical experience obtained in the employ of or under the direct supervision of a registered architect which may include academic training.
  • The board may require that applicants who do not hold a professional degree in architecture must first pass a qualifying examination before being admitted to the licensing examination
  • The board may at its discretion adopt as its standards for minimum education and experience, the current guidelines on education, training and experience equivalents adopted by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.

Each applicant for licensing who satisfies the above conditions shall submit to a licensing examination.  The examination shall cover such technical and professional subjects and shall be graded on such basis as the board shall by regulation prescribe. The board may at its discretion adopt the examination and recommended grading procedures adopted by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.  The board may also require applicants under Code of Pennsylvania. 63 P.S. § 34.8 to appear for a personal interview.

Pursuant to Code of Pennsylvania. 63 P.S. § 34.12  Every architect shall obtain a seal approved by rules and regulations promulgated by the board and shall impress said seal on drawings, specifications and other design documents prepared by the individual or under the architect’s personal supervision for use in the State of Pennsylvania.

However, an architect who impresses his seal or knowingly permits it to be impressed on drawings, specifications or other design documents which were not prepared by him or under his personal supervision shall be guilty of a violation of this act and shall be subject to the penalties.

Any person who impresses an architect’s seal or knowingly permits it to be impressed on drawings, specifications or other design documents after the architect’s certificate has expired, or has been revoked, annulled or suspended, shall be guilty of a violation of this act and shall be subject to the penalties provided herein.

Code further provides that, upon the forfeiture, revocation, suspension or annulment of a certificate, or upon expiration of a certificate without renewal, an architect shall surrender his or her seal or stamp to the board. Upon the death of an architect, his personal representative shall surrender said seal or stamp to the board in accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the board.  The board shall have the power to take appropriate action, in accordance with the “Commonwealth Attorneys Act,” to enforce this subsection.

Pursuant to Code of Pennsylvania. 63 P.S. § 34.13, an individual architect or a group of architects in Pennsylvania may practice architecture in one of the following forms of architectural firms:

  • sole proprietorship;
  • partnership;
  • professional association;
  • professional corporation;
  • business corporation;
  • limited liability company; or
  • limited liability partnership.

The board shall by promulgation of rules and regulations, require any partnership, professional association, professional corporation, business corporation, limited liability company or limited liability partnership practicing architecture in the State of Pennsylvania to file with the board information concerning its officers, directors, partners, professional association board of governors, beneficial owners, members or managers and such other aspects of its organization as the board deems appropriate.  In the administration of this subsection, the board may require each partnership, professional association, professional corporation, business corporation, limited liability company or limited liability partnership to pay an annual filing fee in the amount determined by the board by promulgation of rules and regulations.

Furthermore, no corporation, professional association, partnership, limited liability company or limited liability partnership may perform any act relating to the practice of architecture which an individual architect is prohibited from doing.

However, pursuant to 49 Pa. Code § 9.165, an architect employed by a person, partnership, or corporation which is not an architectural firm can practice architecture if the architectural services performed by the employed architect concerns the modification of or the origination and supervision of the design or the construction of structures, or both, which the employer intends to utilize for its nonarchitectural business purpose.  Note that the employed architect must hold a certificate to practice architecture in the Commonwealth in conformity with the provisions of Architects Licensure Law and an architect’s seal must be affixed to all documents prepared by the architect.   In Consulting Engineers Council of Pennsylvania v. State Architects Licensure Board , 551 A.2d 380, 383 (Pa. Commw. 1989), the court stated that a nonarchitectural firm can employ a staff architect for architectural work, so long as the nonarchitectural firm uses the staff architect for its own internal purposes and does not market those architectural services to the public.

Code of Pennsylvania. 63 P.S. § 34.17 provides that each rule and regulation of the board in effect on the date of the passage of the act shall remain in effect after such date until repealed or amended by the board, unless such rule or regulation is inconsistent with any provision of the act.

Code of Pennsylvania. 63 P.S. § 34.19 provides the disciplinary proceedings for unauthorized practice of architecture.  The board may refuse to issue a certificate to an applicant or may refuse, revoke or suspend a certificate, censure an architect, issue a letter of reprimand, restrict a certificate holder and attach certain conditions to a certificate for any of the following acts:

  • Bribery, fraud, misstatement or misrepresentation of fact by an applicant in connection with this application for a certificate.
  • Engaging in the practice of architecture in this Commonwealth in violation of any provisions of this act or the rules and regulations promulgated
  • Having a license to practice architecture revoked or suspended or having other disciplinary action taken by the proper licensing authority of another state, territory or country.
  • Engaging in the practice of architecture in this Commonwealth in violation of the standards of professional conduct established by rules and regulations promulgated by the board.
  • Aiding or abetting any individual, partnership, association or corporation to engage in the practice of architecture in violation of any provisions of this act.
  • Bribery, fraud, deceit, recklessness, gross negligence or incompetence in the practice of architecture.
  • Use of an architect’s seal in violation of the provisions of the act.

Conviction of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude. shall include a finding or verdict of guilt, an admission of guilt or a plea of nolo contendere.  A plea of nolo contendere shall be deemed to be a conviction for purposes of this section.  Unless ordered to do so by a court, the board shall not reinstate the certificate of a person to practice as an architect which has been revoked and such person shall be required to apply for a certificate after a period of five years if he desires to practice at any time after such revocation.


Inside Pennsylvania