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Rhode Island

Regulation of architects in Rhode Island is found in Title 5, Chapter 1 of the Rhode Island General Laws.  Rhode Island General Laws regulates board of examination, registration of architects, rules and regulations for the conduct of the board.  Pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 5-1-2, “Architect” means any person who engages in the practice of architecture.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 5-1-8 provides that an individual must possess certain qualifications in order to receive a certificate of registration.  Only an applicant who is at least twenty one (21) years of age is eligible to apply for a certificate of registration.  S/he must hold a National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) professional degree in architecture from an accredited school and also have any practical experience including academic training.

Whereas, a non resident can obtain a certificate of registration by submitting satisfactory evidence to the board that s/he is registered to practice architecture in another state, and has fulfilled the requirements for National Council of Architectural Registration Board’s certification.

Pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 5-1-8, an applicant must pass examinations and grading procedure of the national council of architectural registration boards.  The board will issue certificates to individuals qualified to practice architecture.  The board can establish any rules and regulations for the issuance and renewal of certificates including rules for the issuance of certificates by reciprocity.

In addition to the rule making authority, the board has the power to:

  • Suspend, revoke or annul certificates of registration and certificates of authorization,
  • Investigate all complaints and charges of unprofessional conduct against any licensee or any applicant for a certificate of registration or certificate of authorization, and to hold hearings to determine whether the complaints and charges are substantiated,
  • Appoint one or more members of the board, legal counsel, and/or an independent investigator to act on behalf of the board in investigating the conduct of any licensee, or of any applicant for a certificate of registration or certificate of authorization,
  • Issue subpoenas, administer oaths, and summon and examine witnesses.

Pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 5-1-7, a person will be guilty of a misdemeanor and will be sentenced to pay a fine or imprisonment, if an individual uses anything that implies that s/he is an architect competent to practice architecture.  An individual can be fined upto one thousand dollars ($ 1,000) for the first offense and a fine between one thousand dollars ($ 1,000) and two thousand dollars ($ 2,000) for each subsequent offense, or imprisonment upto one year.  The court can also order to reimburse costs incurred by the board.  The board also has the power to institute injunction proceedings in a superior court.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 5-1-12 provides that, every architect must obtain a stamp designated and approved by the board, and must impress that stamp on drawings and specifications prepared by him/her.  An architect who impresses his/her stamp, or knowingly permits it to be impressed on drawings or specifications which were not prepared by him/her or under his/her responsible control is guilty of a misdemeanor.  Similarly, any person who impresses an architect’s stamp, or knowingly permits it to be impressed on drawings and specifications after the architect’s certificate of registration has expired, or has been revoked, annulled, or suspended, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 5-1-13, after issuing notice and hearing, the board can revoke, annul or refuse to renew any certificate of registration or any certificate of authorization, publicly censure, reprimand, or censure in writing, limit the scope of practice of, impose an administrative fine, order a reimbursement of the board for all expenses.

The board can take actions for the following causes such as:

  • Bribery, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in obtaining a certificate of registration or certificate of authorization;
  • Practicing architecture in another state, country, or jurisdiction in violation of the laws of that state, country, or jurisdiction;
  • Practicing architecture in Rhode Island in violation of the standards of professional conduct established by the board;
  • Fraud, deceit, recklessness, gross negligence, misconduct, or incompetence in the practice of architecture;
  • Unauthorized use of an architect’s stamp;
  • Suspension or revocation of the right to practice architecture before any state or before any other country or jurisdiction;
  • Conviction of or pleading guilty or nolo contendere to any felony, or to any crime of, or act constituting a crime of, forgery, embezzlement, obtaining money under false pretenses, bribery, larceny, extortion, conspiracy to defraud, or any other similar offense, in a court of competent jurisdiction of Rhode Island or any other state or of the federal government;
  • Failure to furnish to the board, or any person acting on behalf of the board, within sixty (60) days of notification any information legally requested by the board.

Pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 5-1-13.1, the board can initiate proceedings against holders of a certificate of registration and/or a certificate of authorization either on its own motion, or on complaint of any person, upon a finding of probable cause or upon receiving notification from another state board of architects or from the appropriate authority in another country or jurisdiction.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 5-1-16 provides that an architect or architectural firm, which voluntarily and without compensation provides architectural services at the scene of a disaster emergency is not liable for any personal injury, wrongful death, property damage, or other loss or damages caused by an act or omission of the architect or architectural firm in performing such services.  However, the immunity granted by will not apply to acts or omissions constituting gross negligence or willful misconduct.

Inside Rhode Island